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8 Ways Having Straight Teeth Changes Your Life

8 Ways Having Straight Teeth Changes Your Life (Really!)

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

Think straight teeth are just a ticket to a gorgeous smile? There’s so much more to it than that! The benefits of orthodontic treatment are powerful and wide-ranging.

In this post, the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics will cover some of the ways having straight teeth and a strong bite can positively impact your life.

1. Enhanced Confidence

As an orthodontist in Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek, WA and Juneau, AK, there’s nothing Dr. Richard Chan loves more than seeing the confidence his patients gain from treatment. Having a smile you love provides a huge boost in self-esteem that carries over into all areas of your life, including your relationships, academics and career.

2. Easier Chewing and Better Digestion

One of the health benefits of braces and Invisalign® treatment is easier chewing. When designing your new smile, Dr. Chan accounts for your entire chewing system, including your lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, chewing muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), With these interrelated structures properly aligned, you can chew all types of food without discomfort or dysfunction. This helps you get the vitamins and minerals you need.

Beyond that, effective chewing is an integral component of the digestive process. According to research, breaking down foods efficiently leads to better digestion and absorption of nutrients.

3. Better Oral Health

Straightening teeth makes them easier to clean. Crowded, crooked teeth and/or gaps between the teeth create nooks and crannies where food debris, plaque and bacteria can hide, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Certain types of malocclusion (improper bite) also put undue pressure on the teeth and gums and cause the enamel to wear down. This too can make you more susceptible to damage, cavities and periodontal disease.

4. Clearer Speech

Misaligned teeth and jaws can contribute to speech difficulties, including lisps, a whistling noise and difficulty producing certain speech sounds. In some cases, orthodontic treatment can improve speech disorders by creating the right conditions for proper airflow and tongue movement. Being able to communicate clearly and confidently is an asset professionally and socially.

5. Fewer Dental Issues for Lifelong Savings

As we said above, straight teeth are easier to clean and aren’t as susceptible to damaging forces. This can mean fewer dental issues across your lifetime, saving you time and money.

6. Improved Overall Health

We’ve already discussed that reducing oral disease is one of the biggest health benefits of straight teeth. This doesn’t just apply to the mouth though. Our oral health is directly connected to our overall health.

The Washington Post recently published a piece on the ways oral health can affect your brain with one being an increased risk of dementia. This is the latest in a number of studies connecting inflammation and bacteria in the mouth with diseases in other areas of the body, including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

7. Stronger Social Connections

An assured smile can build stronger social connections. Research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that smiles, especially genuine smiles, are important social tokens and play a role in social decision-making and bonding.

8. Excellent First Impressions

In a perfect world, how you look wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The appearance of your smile plays a starring role in the first impressions you make.

According to a study in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, people with ideal smiles are considered “more intelligent and have a greater chance of finding a job when compared to persons with non-ideal smiles.”

In a recent poll, 76% of respondents said a person’s smile is the number one physical trait that makes a first impression. Additionally, 68% of Americans believe people who smile are more trustworthy, confident and approachable.

Ready to experience the social and health benefits of straight teeth for yourself?

Now that you know orthodontic treatment is worth it, you might be wondering how to get straight teeth. We can help! Schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Mill Creek, Monroe or Bothell, WA or Juneau, AK!

Dr. Chan will develop an accurate diagnosis and provide you with personalized treatment recommendations. Whether you choose braces or Invisalign, the outcome will be a beautiful, functional, healthy smile and all of the perks that come with it.

Girl Smiling Outdoors

Richard Chan Orthodontics Shares Fun Facts About Teeth Following National Orthodontic Health Month

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

Since last month was National Orthodontic Health Month, Seattle, WA-area and Juneau, AK orthodontist, Richard Chan Orthodontics, wants to continue keeping teeth top of mind by offering 10 fun facts about oral health and orthodontics this month.

1. It All Started in the 1700s

A French surgeon and dentist named Pierre Fauchard invented the bandeau, a metal strip bent like a horseshoe meant to expand the dental arch and straighten teeth.

2. And Really Kicked Off in the 1970s

About 200 years later, stainless steel became popular for contemporary braces because of its less expensive cost and increased flexibility over previous materials.

3. Teeth Can’t Repair Themselves

Enamel, the thin but hard outer shell of teeth, isn’t living tissue so it can’t heal itself.

4. Enamel is The Toughest

Yet, enamel is also the hardest material in the body, even harder than bone!

5. Teeth Naturally Want to Shift Back to Where They Started

Why is a retainer a must after braces or Invisalign? Teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original positions over time. A retainer prevents teeth from moving.

6. No Two Sets of Teeth Are Alike

Just like fingerprints, teeth are unique to each and every person. That’s why Dr. Richard Chan at his Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK orthodontic offices delivers personalized treatment that addresses each patient’s specific orthodontic issues.

7. Saliva Is Necessary, And A Lot of It

A person can produce up to 730 liters of saliva per year. And it’s all for good use — saliva helps with tasting, chewing and digestion, reduces oral bacteria, has proteins and minerals that strengthen teeth, and prevents bad breath.

8. Straight Teeth Are Easier To Keep Clean

Well-aligned teeth have fewer nooks and crannies for plaque and food debris to hide. They’re easier to brush and floss effectively which means a reduced risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

9. A Stunning Smile Boosts Confidence

As a Juneau, AK and Seattle-area expert orthodontist, Dr. Chan has seen countless patients step into a newfound confidence because of their new smile.

10. Straight Teeth Help Optimize Eating and Digestion

Crooked teeth and a bad bite can make biting, chewing and swallowing difficult. This can then affect proper digestion and overall health. In contrast, a straight smile offers optimum oral functioning.

Your Seattle-area Orthodontist Making Braces Accessible and Easy

American Board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Richard Chan, and his team strive to provide informed, stress-free braces and Invisalign treatment that works for every patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and budget. And whether visiting the Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, or Juneau, AK orthodontic office, patients are greeted by an award-winning, friendly team at a bright, modern office designed with patient comfort in mind.

6 Reasons to Start Orthodontic Treatment in Summer

6 Reasons to Start Orthodontic Treatment at Richard Chan Orthodontics This Summer

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

We often think that fall is the best time to start new endeavors. But when it comes to starting braces or Invisalign, we think summer is an ideal time to start, especially for kids. Why? Here, the Richard Chan Orthodontics team shares 6 reasons to consider summer the best time for when to start orthodontic treatment.

  1. You’ll Have Routines Dialed-in By The Time School Starts 

Let’s be honest, whether braces treatment or the Invisalign® process, orthodontic treatment takes some getting used to. Summer’s slower, less scheduled days give you time to figure out the changes you need to make in your daily life because of your new braces or Invisalign. Come fall, you’ll have your routines down pat for appliance-friendly eating and excellent oral hygiene

  1. You Can Take Advantage of Summer’s Cold Treats to Soothe Discomfort

When you have braces or Invisalign, your teeth, gums, and jaws work hard to shift into their final positions. Experiencing a little oral pain or discomfort at times is part of your smile transformation. Cold, summer treats like fresh fruit smoothies, ice cream, or popsicles are a great way to soothe oral discomfort from braces or Invisalign treatment. Just remember to choose soft treats like ice cream without nuts or hard mix-ins if you have braces to avoid damaging them.

  1. Scheduling initial appointments is easier when you’re less busy

For many families, the school year can get pretty hectic. That’s why starting braces or Invisalign in the more relaxed season of summer is a great option. It can be less stressful and you can fit in your initial appointments without missing school, work, practices, or lessons.

  1. Save Money with Our Limited Time Braces or Invisalign Offer

This summer is prime time to start braces or Invisalign treatment because we’re offering affordable braces and Invisalign for as low as $129 per month. At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’re all about making braces and Invisalign costs manageable for our patients because everyone deserves a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile.

  1. More Time To Feel Confident With Wearing Braces or Invisalign 

Braces have been around for a long time — and Invisalign started straightening smiles 25 years ago. So it’s fair to say that orthodontics isn’t so surprising anymore. That said, some patients — both adults and teens — appreciate some adjustment time before heading back into the full social demands of the fall. Summer offers prep time to help ease any initial self-consciousness and ensure a smoother social transition into the school year.

  1. Achieve Faster Progress and Results

Getting braces or Invisalign in the summer months can help you make significant progress right from the get-go. How? Less scheduling constraints and more mental space allows you to focus and stick to your treatment plan more diligently, like switching out your aligners at the right time or refreshing elastic bands as instructed. Paired with our use of innovative technology and techniques, you might find that a summer start contributes to more efficient and precise results.

Summer’s For Smiling With Richard Chan Orthodontics

If you’re ready to get Invisalign or braces this summer, Dr. Chan is your award-winning, Seattle-area and Juneau, AK orthodontist for high-quality orthodontic care and amazing outcomes. 

Contact us for an appointment this summer for Invisalign or braces at our Monroe, Bothell,  Mill Creek, WA or Juneau, AK office for personalized, affordable modern braces or Invisalign.

Invisalign Treatment

6 Things You Should Know Before Getting Invisalign

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

Have you been thinking about getting Invisalign to straighten your smile? It’s definitely a great way to straighten and improve your teeth. In fact, 14 million people have experienced the benefits of Invisalign since it came on the market 25 years ago. But before you jump in with Invisalign treatment, Dr. Chan and the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics wants to share a few things you should know first about this clear aligner treatment. Here are 6 common things to think about when considering Invisalign.

  1. A Reputable Invisalign Doctor is Key

We’d argue that the most important step in the Invisalign process is finding a qualified and experienced Invisalign doctor. Look for an orthodontist who is certified by Invisalign and has a good reputation in your community. Not to toot our own horn here (okay, maybe a little) but our team recently won a SeattleMet Top Dentist Award for the ninth year in a row. Plus, Dr. Chan is a board certified orthodontist. So it’s safe to say getting Invisalign treatment with Dr. Chan will mean fantastic results!

  1. Eating is Easier with Invisalign vs. Braces

Invisalign offers several benefits over traditional braces but perhaps the biggest one? No food restrictions. You don’t have to change your eating habits to avoid foods that could break your appliance like you would with braces. Most orthodontists — including Dr. Chan — recommend you take your Invisalign trays out when you eat or when you drink anything other than water. 

You might even notice that you snack less during the Invisalign process. Since you need to keep your aligners in for at least 22 hours a day to ensure your teeth shift according to your treatment plan, your snacking game. It’s definitely a perk for improving your overall health in the long run.

  1. We Can Treat a Wide Range of Cases with Invisalign

A common question patients ask us is, “Am I a candidate for Invisalign?” These days, Invisalign is a good choice for many who want to improve their smile. In previous years, not everyone was a candidate for Invisalign treatment — it was typically best suited for patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues, such as crooked or crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, and minor bite problems. But today, what can Invisalign fix? Well, in the hands of an experienced Invisalign doctor like Dr. Chan, even complex cases can be treated with Invisalign. 

Your Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK orthodontist will determine if you are a good candidate for getting Invisalign. During your consultation, Dr. Chan will evaluate your teeth and gums, take X-rays of your teeth, and review your dental history to determine if Invisalign is right for you.

  1. Invisalign is Effective When You Stick to Your Treatment Plan

As we mentioned, getting Invisalign from an experienced orthodontist plays a big part in the success of your treatment. The other factor is you! Your aligners can only shift your teeth into place precisely and on schedule if you wear them according to your treatment plan.

As mentioned earlier, you should wear your Invisalign aligners for at least 22 hours a day, only taking them out to eat, drink anything other than water, brushing and flossing, or if you’re wearing a mouthguard when playing sports. Then make sure you always switch your trays to the next set as prescribed, and see Dr. Chan for your progress check-ins as scheduled.

  1. Keeping Your Clear Aligners Clean During Invisalign Treatment Will Keep Your Progress On Track

Good oral care is vital during Invisalign treatment. Why? Because conversely, oral health issues like cavities and gum disease can disrupt your orthodontic treatment, delaying your progress while you wait for fillings or gum disease treatment. To make sure your oral health is 100% while Invisalign straightens your teeth, make sure you:

  • Take out Invisalign when you eat or drink anything other than water
  • Brush your teeth before you put aligners back in
  • Stick to a thorough oral hygiene routine
  • Clean your clear aligners every day with a toothbrush (no toothpaste) and deep clean with Invisalign crystals halfway through the week 
  1. Losing Your Clear Aligners Can Delay the Invisalign Process

Super important: when your aligners aren’t in your mouth, store them in their case. It’s not uncommon for aligners to go missing because they’ve been put in a napkin or a cup and then forgotten. Losing a set of aligners can delay your treatment — you might lose a few days while the replacement set is being made, giving your teeth the chance to start regressing to their original spots. But we get it; life happens! If you do misplace a set, call the office and Dr. Chan will instruct you on what to do.

If you think you or your child might misplace your Invisalign often, we suggest weighing the practicality of Invisalign vs. braces for your lifestyle. For many adult orthodontic patients, keeping track of their Invisalign clear aligners is a breeze. But for younger patients, an active lifestyle might mean keeping track of aligners is a challenge. Some teens actually prefer braces anyway, because they can choose the color of the elastic ties to suit their personality, the seasons, or their mood.

Getting Invisalign with Your Seattle-area Orthodontist

Now that you know a few of the high points to think about when considering Invisalign treatment, come visit your expert Invisalign doctor in Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK. Dr. Chan can help you answer the question, “Am I a candidate for Invisalign?” and if you are, we can help you move forward with clear aligners and get the perfect smile you’ve always wanted.

Contact Richard Chan Orthodontics for your free initial appointment to get started!


SeattleMet Top Dentist Award 2015-2023

Richard Chan Orthodontics Wins 2023 Seattle Met Top Dentist for 9th Straight Year

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

It’s nice to be recognized for a job well done. And even better? Receiving recognition year after year. For the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics, 2023 marks nine years in a row winning a SeattleMet Top Dentist award.

What is the SeattleMet Top Dentist Award?

The SeattleMet Top Dentist award is an annual, peer-selected achievement. In other words, Dr. Richard Chan and his team have received recognition of their dental colleagues for outstanding work in orthodontics and patient care. 

Every year, SeattleMet partners with national survey company Top Dentists, which sends ballots to local, active dentists listed with the American Dental Association (ADA), dental academies and societies. These recipients in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Pierce counties can nominate peers within these organizations, as well as those who aren’t. 

What are the Nomination Criteria?

The magazine asks, “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?” Presented with the names of nearby practitioners, each voting dentist considers:

  • Experience
  • Professional development
  • Adoption of new techniques and technologies
  • Physical outcomes

After responses are compiled, the magazine takes the names of the highest-rated nominees and cross-references each name with the Washington State Department of Health to check for a clean disciplinary record, active licensing, and good standing. Since 2015, Dr. Richard Chan Orthodontics has risen to the top, consistently earning a spot on the SeattleMet Top Dentist list.

What Makes Richard Chan Orthodontics Stand Out

Dr. Richard Chan and his team strive to provide informed, stress-free braces and Invisalign® treatment for patients of all ages — for a lifetime of healthy, functional teeth that look amazing, too. A tech-lover, Dr. Chan uses the latest orthodontic technology to straighten teeth safer, faster, and more comfortably. He offers beautiful outcomes with modern metal, ceramic, and self-ligating braces and is a 2022 Platinum+ Invisalign Provider, a designation for orthodontists with a high level of proficiency and experience with Invisalign. 

Dr. Chan’s bright and modern offices in Bothell, Monroe, or Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK are designed with patient comfort in mind. 

About Dr. Richard Chan

Dr. Richard Chan understands that many people want a straight, functional smile but can’t afford it, but he believes that everyone deserves a healthy smile they’re proud to show off. So as a certified specialist in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, Dr. Chan is on a mission to make high-quality orthodontic treatment work for every patient’s specific needs, lifestyle and budget

This Washington and Juneau, AK orthodontist is a board-certified member of the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association, and the Washington State Dental Association, and engages in continuing education to provide patients with leading-edge service. Whether you have misaligned teeth, a crossbite, overbite, or underbite, Dr. Chan can help you achieve a fantastic, new smile.

Black Triangles Between My Teeth

Will Orthodontic Treatment Cause Black Triangles Between My Teeth?

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

If you’ve been considering orthodontic treatment, you might have heard or read about the possibility of developing back triangles in your teeth after braces or Invisalign®. But what are black triangles? And does orthodontic treatment actually cause them? The team at Richard Chan Orthodontics will be covering everything you need to know.

What are Black Triangles Between Teeth?

Ideally, there is a piece of gum tissue, known as an interdental papilla (papillae plural), that extends from the gumline and sits between two teeth, firmly attaching to both. In the front of the mouth, the papillae are shaped like pyramids, or triangles. They keep the tooth roots safe and prevent food from getting stuck between the teeth and causing decay and cavities. 

When the papillae don’t project from the gum line and fill the space between the teeth, it creates a triangular void between the teeth and the gumline. This is what people sometimes refer to as a black triangle. 

In a study published in the European Journal of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry, participants ranked black triangles between the teeth, technically called open gingival embrasures or gingival triangles, as the third most disliked smile aesthetic issue after cavities and crown margins.

While black triangles do compromise the appearance of your smile, it’s not merely a cosmetic problem. Depending on the size of the space, it can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. It may also interfere with your ability to properly produce certain speech sounds. 

What Causes Black Triangles in Teeth?

According to a literature review in the British Dental Journal, there are a number of causes of black triangles in teeth and they often develop because of a mixture of factors, including:

  • The amount of space between teeth
    You need enough width between the teeth to facilitate blood flow to the papillae but not so much space that the tissue is stretched or unable to fill in the area.
  • Genetics
    Inherited traits like the natural shape and position of your tooth roots, as well as the distance between the jawbone and the first point of contact between two teeth can make you susceptible to black triangles.
    The shape of your teeth, which is also genetic, plays a role too. People with square or rectangular-shaped teeth tend to have better contact between teeth from top to bottom when the teeth are properly spaced. Triangular-shaped teeth, on the other hand, often meet closer to the chewing surfaces where they’re wider, but as the teeth narrow towards the gumline, a black space can occur.
  • Your age
    The risk increases with age and certain systemic diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Your gum biotype
    People with thin, scalloped gums are more likely to develop black triangles, because this gum biotype responds to trauma and inflammation by receding. A thick, flat gum biotype often means the gums have greater blood flow and are better able to withstand inflammation, which helps keep the papillae in place.
  • The presence of periodontal (gum) disease and gum recession
    As the gums recede, the papillae will also recede and can begin to lose attachment with the teeth, creating black triangles.
  • Diverging tooth roots
    This is when the tooth roots are spaced or angled in a way that creates space between the teeth near the gumline.
  • Misshapen dental restorations
    Crowns or other restorations that aren’t the correct size and shape can lead to a space between the teeth.
  • Poor oral habits
    Nail biting, excessive toothpick use, and aggressive flossing can damage the papillae and/or cause gum recession.

Do Braces and Invisalign Cause Black Triangles?

No, Invisalign and braces do not cause black triangles in between the teeth. There is a misconception that it can be a consequence of orthodontic treatment. But the truth is, when teeth are crowded, crooked, or overlapping, the black triangles aren’t visible. 

As your braces or Invisalign aligners straighten the teeth, black triangles can start to appear. This is simply because there isn’t enough gum tissue to fill in the space where the crowded or rotated teeth used to be. So if you have new black triangles in your teeth after Invisalign or braces it’s likely becuase orthodontic treatment revealed an existing issue. 

When you visit Richard Chan Orthodontics, we assess your teeth, gums, and bite before you start treatment. Dr. Richard Chan then creates a personalized treatment plan based on your unique dental and facial anatomy. He may take certain steps or coordinate with your dentist to minimize or prevent black triangles and create your ideal smile.

How Can I Prevent Black Triangles in My Teeth After Braces or Invisalign?

While you can’t do anything about genetics, your age, or your gum biotype, there are things you can control, including keeping your gums healthy to ward off recession. 

Black triangles, or open gingival embrasures, are frequently an early sign of gum disease. If Dr. Chan believes you have gum disease, you’ll need to have it treated prior to beginning orthodontic treatment.

Once you get braces or Invisalign, it’s important to maintain excellent oral hygiene. To keep gums healthy and reduce your risk of black triangles:

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in the morning and after all meals and snacks for two full minutes each time. If you have braces, pay extra attention to the tight areas around your brackets and the space between your brackets and gumline. Be sure to gently massage your gums while you brush as well to keep them stimulated and prevent swelling.
  • Floss at least once per day.
  • In addition to flossing with dental floss, you may want to consider using a water flosser too. This will help remove even more plaque and food debris and stimulate your gums. 
  • Ask Dr. Chan about including an antibacterial mouthwash into your daily routine. He can recommend a rinse that fights plaque and boosts gum health if needed. 
  • Avoid biting your nails or using toothpicks excessively. When you floss, be gentle with your gums. 
  • Continue to see your general dentist for routine dental exams and cleanings once every six months during your braces or Invisalign treatment. 

How to Fix Black Triangles in Teeth

If you do notice black triangles, there are solutions. The best treatment for you will depend on the underlying cause and your individual needs. Dr. Chan and/or your dentist can make personalized recommendations for how to fix black triangles in your teeth in a way that will promote good oral health. 

Options could include:

  • Orthodontic treatment. In some cases, when gum disease isn’t the culprit, orthodontic treatment can actually fix black triangles. In these instances, once the teeth are properly aligned, the unwanted voids will be eliminated. Plus, straight teeth are easier to keep clean, which reduces your risk of gum disease and recession going forward.
  • Interproximal reduction. If the shape of your teeth is behind black triangles, this technique can be used to gently file down enamel. Once your teeth are reshaped, we can use braces or Invisalign to shift them into place. They’ll then be flush against one another and the black triangles will disappear.
  • Cosmetic dentistry. A dentist can enhance a tooth, or teeth, with bonding materials to eliminate or reduce black triangles. Dental crowns, veneers, and recontouring procedures could also be possibilities.
  • Hyaluronic acid. Similar to cosmetic facial fillers, hyaluronic acid can also be injected into the gum tissue to add volume and encourage the tissue to fill in the space between the teeth.
  • Grafting or tissue engineering. For severe gum recession or disease, your dentist might recommend attempting to regrow gum tissue. This can be achieved through procedures such as gum grafting and tissue engineering.
  • Other options. There are other options as well that you may want to discuss with your dentist. These can include using pink restorations or gingival veneers to hide the black triangles. 

Say Goodbye to Black Triangles

Want to find out if orthodontic treatment can fix black triangles between your teeth? Or are you looking for an experienced orthodontist who can create a treatment plan that helps you avoid them? Richard Chan Orthodontics has you covered! Schedule a visit with our Juneau, AK and Bothell, Monroe, and Mill Creek, WA orthodontist today.

Braces-Friendly Super Foods

4 Braces-Friendly Super Foods for Strong Teeth

By Community, Dental Care No Comments

With the new year comes a fresh resolve to boost your health. And although you’ve already taken a big step in healthy teeth — getting braces — take it one step further by eating foods that strengthen your teeth, too. 

So what foods strengthen teeth that you can eat while wearing braces? To help you figure that out, the teeth experts at Richard Chan Orthodontics have created a list of 4 braces-friendly super foods:

1. Brightly Colored Fruits and Veggies

Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are a good place to start when it comes to good nutrition for oral health. Dr. Chan recommends taking small bites, or cutting up your fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. This helps avoid bits getting stuck in your braces.

Vivid-hued fruits and veg contain vitamins C and A, both of which contribute to a healthy oral environment. Let’s talk about each here:

Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps build and maintain healthy oral tissue and gums. Strong connective tissue in your gums keeps teeth firmly in place and helps prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Foods to eat with braces that are rich in vitamin C include: 

  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli (feel free to steam or cook to soften)
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Bell Peppers

As a bonus, many braces-friendly foods with vitamin C can also whiten teeth. Strawberries contain a stain-fighting enzyme called malic acid. And the tartness in citrus fruits causes extra saliva production that helps wash away sticky, stain-causing bacteria and sugars.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A strengthens your teeth by helping maintain a healthy amount of saliva. Saliva lowers the acidity in your mouth after you’ve eaten to a more neutral or alkaline pH, helping prevent tooth enamel erosion and making your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay.

Fruits and vegetables with lots of vitamin A include leafy greens like spinach and kale, and “orange” fruits and vegetables like:

  • Oranges
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots (steam or cook to prevent the risk of braces damage)
  • Sweet potatoes


Say, “Cheese, please!” when you want braces-friendly food that also strengthens your teeth. Cheese has both naturally occurring health benefits and is fortified with several powerhouse vitamins and minerals. Your oral health is boosted with cheese’s calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and protein. And we can’t forget to mention that the calcium in cheese helps protect your teeth and gums.

When reaching for cheese, opt for soft cheeses to avoid damaging your braces. Braces-friendly cheeses include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Brie
  • Thinly-sliced or cubed Cheddar, Swiss or American cheese
  • Mozzarella

Eating cheese also helps neutralize the pH balance in your mouth, reducing the acids that can damage your tooth enamel, cause stains, and contribute to tooth decay. Cheese helps clear out mouth sugars and bacteria that trigger acids after you eat, making it a great food for maintaining healthy teeth.

Pro tip: Make the most out of the calcium in cheese by also eating foods with lots of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body better absorb calcium. 

3.  Lean Protein

Poultry, fish, eggs, and lean beef are all protein foods that are good for teeth. Lean proteins have lots of phosphorus, a mineral that helps strengthen teeth by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel. Protein also helps heal gum tissue and the mucosal lining of your mouth faster.

When eating lean proteins with braces, Dr. Chan suggests cutting your protein in small, bite-size pieces, then chewing with your molars. Don’t tear chunks with your front teeth. 

4. Water

Though not a food, water is Nutrition 101 for supporting good oral health over any other beverages when you have braces. Why? First, no sugar. 

Second, your saliva is about 99% water and 1% protein and salts, so ensuring you drink plenty of water keeps your saliva at optimal levels. As we mentioned previously, saliva’s job is to wash away sugars and bacteria, and bring down the acidity in your mouth. 

Third, saliva helps you avoid dry mouth, an issue that causes bad breath.

Lastly, drinking or rinsing your mouth with water helps wash away plaque and food debris from your teeth and braces if you’re not able to brush and floss right away. 

Tap water or bottled?

Which is better for nutrition and oral health? Typically, clean tap water is preferable over bottled water because most tap water contains added fluoride — while bottled water does not. Fluoride is a mineral that helps rebuild and strengthen tooth enamel.

A Straight, Healthy Smile From Richard Chan Orthodontics

Now that you know more about braces-friendly foods that strengthen teeth, we hope you enjoy good teeth health while waiting for your fantastic, new smile. 

But if you haven’t started braces treatment yet, now’s the time! At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’ll help you get a beautiful, functional smile that suits your needs, lifestyle, and budget. 

Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Chan, your orthodontic specialist in Bothell, Monroe, and Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK.


What is a Crossbite and How is it Fixed?

By Dental Care, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

As a board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Richard Chan is an expert in diagnosing, preventing and treating malocclusion, or an improper bite. There are different types of malocclusion and you’ve probably heard of a few of them like an overbite and underbite. One type that a lot of people are less familiar with is a crossbite. So, what is a crossbite? Our Juneau, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek orthodontist will be covering everything you need to know about this orthodontic concern.

What is a Crossbite?

Normally, your upper teeth overlap on the outside of the lower teeth when you close your jaws together. When you have a crossbite, however, one or more of your upper teeth bite inside of your lower teeth. A crossbite can involve several teeth or a single tooth and it can occur in the front of the mouth, back of the mouth or both. There are two main types of crossbites:

  • Anterior Crossbite: An anterior crossbite, or front crossbite, is when one or more front top teeth sit inside of the front bottom teeth.
  • Posterior Crossbite: A posterior crossbite, or back crossbite, is when one or more of the upper teeth in the back or on the side of the mouth sit inside of the lower teeth. A posterior crossbite can develop on one side of the mouth or, occasionally, both sides.

So, isn’t a crossbite the same as an underbite? No. With an underbite, the jaw and whole arch of top teeth are behind the bottom teeth.

What Causes a Crossbite?

  • Genetics The most common cause of a crossbite in children is genetics, which, unfortunately, means that many crossbites can’t be prevented. Usually, it’s a result of a small or narrow upper jaw and/or larger lower jaw, which can be inherited from one or both parents.
  • Delayed Loss of Baby Teeth When the baby teeth don’t fall out when they’re supposed to (over-retained primary teeth) and the permanent teeth are delayed in erupting, the other teeth may shift to compensate, creating misalignment, such as a crossbite.
  • Oral and Myofunctional Habits Oral habits like prolonged thumb sucking and pacifier use are another cause of malocclusion. The pressure from the thumb or pacifier can push teeth out of alignment and distort bone, resulting in a narrow palate and crossbite. Myofunctional problems like abnormal swallowing patterns can also cause a crossbite, because they too exert undue pressure.
  • Mouth Breathing Chronic mouth breathing in kids, which often happens at night, can impact jaw and facial development. It may lead to an elongated face and underdeveloped jaw, contributing to the development of a crossbite and other orthodontic concerns like crowding.
  • Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate A cleft lip and cleft palate happen when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn’t properly form when they’re in the womb. With a cleft lip, the sides of the lip don’t fuse during fetal development, while a cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth, or palate, doesn’t fuse completely, leaving an opening.Children with orofacial clefts are more likely to have dental issues. According to research published in BioMed Research International, the most common malocclusion among patients with total cleft of the lip, alveolar bone and palate was a crossbite.

Why Does a Crossbite Need to be Treated?

While it depends on the severity and type of crossbite, an untreated crossbite can lead to:

  • Excessive wear of the enamel and chipped or cracked teeth, because of the way the teeth come together when you bite down
  • Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease, as misaligned teeth are harder to properly brush and floss
  • Gum recession, because certain teeth bear the brunt of the chewing forces. As gums recede, tooth roots are left exposed and vulnerable to decay and infection
  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Difficulty closing the mouth
  • Strain on the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and chewing muscles, resulting in TMJ dysfunction and pain
  • Headaches and toothaches
  • Lopsided jaw growth since patients often compensate by shifting their jaw forward or to the side
  • Speech issues – a study found that a posterior crossbite can affect speech in children by altering the tongue position and making speech sound distorted

Does a Crossbite Require Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment?

Sometimes, a severe posterior crossbite does require interceptive orthodontic treatment, also called phase 1 orthodontic treatment. At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we rarely treat young children and can usually achieve excellent results with one phase of orthodontic treatment. However, there are cases where early interceptive treatment will help to prevent the lopsided jaw growth that can occur in patients with a crossbite.

In these instances, during phase 1 treatment, Dr. Chan uses certain orthodontic appliances, mostly commonly being a rapid palatal expander. A palatal expander is a fixed appliance that sits against the roof of the mouth. As you activate the expander by turning a key, it gently widens the upper jaw, which in children, consists of two halves that meet at the middle, called the midline suture. The suture isn’t yet fused, so the pressure from the device is able to shift the two halves of the jaw apart to correct the crossbite. 

When the desired amount of skeletal expansion is achieved, the appliance is left in for a bit longer so that new bone can form in the middle to stabilize the expansion. 

Dr. Chan removes the expander and then after a resting period where the remainder of the baby teeth fall out, the patient starts phase 2 orthodontic treatment, typically around age 12 or 13. During phase 2, we use braces or Invisalign Teen to straighten the teeth and ensure the bite is coming together properly.

Is Crossbite Correction Effective in Adults?

We can treat an anterior crossbite or a crossbite that is due to the position of the teeth at any age. For a posterior crossbite that’s skeletal in nature, while it’s never too late to have it fixed, getting treatment during childhood or the early teen years will help you achieve the best results more quickly and less invasively. This is because, before jaw growth is complete, we’re still able to widen the upper jaw. 

In the past, treating a severe posterior crossbite in an adult would have required corrective jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, along with orthodontic treatment. However, thanks to advances in technology and treatments, we can fix a crossbite in an adult without surgery in more cases than ever before.

How to Fix a Crossbite


Can Invisalign fix a crossbite? Yes, Invisalign can fix a crossbite in certain cases. If you have an anterior crossbite or a single-tooth crossbite, Invisalign or Invisalign Teen will be super effective. For some patients with a posterior crossbite, braces are the better option. 

If clear aligners are used, we may need to pair your aligners with Invisalign attachments. These tooth-colored buttons are bonded to your teeth and act almost like a handlebar for your aligners to push off in order to achieve more complex tooth movements. Invisalign rubber bands could be needed too. Rubber bands provide the connective force necessary to improve your bite, or the way your upper and lower teeth meet.


We can fix a crossbite with metal braces or clear braces. In fact, certain types of crossbite respond better to braces, usually along with rubber bands, than Invisalign. Whether we use braces alone or in combination with other treatments and appliances will depend on the severity of your crossbite and whether it’s skeletal or related to the position of your teeth.

Auxiliaries and Orthodontic Appliances

When treating a posterior crossbite with braces or Invisalign, we may need some help from auxiliaries like rubber bands and/or Invisalign attachments. In preteen and teenage patients who are still growing, we sometimes pair braces or Invisalign Teen with an orthodontic appliance to expand the jaw at the same time that we straighten the teeth. 

Other patients may respond well to using innovations like temporary anchorage devices (TADs) with their braces. TADs are an alternative to headgear and give Dr. Chan a fixed anchor point from which to achieve complicated tooth movements, including asymmetrical tooth movements, more efficiently and comfortably.

How Much Does Crossbite Treatment Cost?

The cost of crossbite correction is determined by how severe the problem is and your treatment plan. Once you come in for a free consultation at our practice and Dr. Chan develops a diagnosis and treatment recommendations, we’ll be able to provide you with the cost. 

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on offering high quality care for an affordable price. We accept most insurance plans, will help you determine your coverage and even file claims on your behalf. We also offer flexible, in-office financing, including braces and Invisalign for as low as $129 per month.

Crossbite Correction in Mill Creek, Bothell and Monroe, WA and Juneau, AK

If you think your child has a crossbite, or you have one yourself, schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Mill Creek, Bothell and Monroe, WA or Juneau, AK. At your consultation, Dr. Chan will evaluate your diagnostic records and perform an exam to determine an accurate diagnosis. He can then create a personalized treatment plan to fix the crossbite and help you or your child achieve optimal oral health and function.

Brush Your Teeth Before Breakfast

10 Habits That Could be Harming Your Teeth

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we always teach our patients how to keep their teeth healthy so they can make the most out of their treatment. After all, no one wants to invest in braces or Invisalign® and then do something to harm their smile.

Of course, there are obvious things like not brushing or flossing your teeth that will have a negative impact on your oral health. But, there are also a number of common habits and practices that you might not think twice about that can damage teeth too. In this post, Dr. Richard Chan will be sharing what these habits are and how they can affect your smile.

1. Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding and clenching, called bruxism, can have a significant effect on your teeth. While a mild, daytime teeth grinding habit might not be a huge concern, chronic bruxism, especially if you grind your teeth at night, will cause complications if not addressed.

Teeth grinding often results in excessive wear of the enamel, chipped or fractured teeth, damaged restorations, headaches, pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, earaches, loose teeth and more.

Wearing a night guard will help prevent complications by providing cushioning against the grinding forces. Depending on the cause of bruxism, additional treatment could be needed to help stop the habit and minimize or correct teeth grinding damage.

2. Chewing on Ice, Pencils or Other Objects

What does chewing on ice do to your teeth? First, it can wear away your enamel, which protects your teeth from cavity-causing acids. As enamel erodes, teeth are more susceptible to decay, they become sensitive to hot and cold and, if the underlying dentin is exposed, they can even look yellow. Chewing on ice is also a culprit behind cracked and chipped teeth and worn-down bite edges.

Chewing on pens, pencils, fingernails and other hard objects will probably have the same outcome. Hard plastics like pens or anything with sharp edges can lead to hairline cracks in the enamel and injure the soft tissues of the mouth. Plus, any time you put objects in your mouth, you’re also introducing germs.

3. Eating Lots of Starchy Foods Like Potato Chips and Crackers

There’s always a lot of talk about sugar and teeth. But, the bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates, meaning both sugars and starches. When they do, they release acids that leach minerals from the tooth enamel. Frequent acid attacks cause tooth decay. As tooth decay progresses, a hole forms in the tooth, which is what we call a cavity.

In addition to containing carbohydrates, whether or not a specific food is likely to cause cavities also depends on how long it will be in contact with the teeth and how fast the food is eaten.

Starchy foods like potato chips and pretzels are heavy on the carbs, tend to be snacked on at a leisurely pace and get stuck in the teeth. So, they check all of the cavity-causing boxes. In fact, if you’re in the mood for a treat, when it comes to harming your teeth, you’d be better off having a scoop of ice cream than you would a handful of crackers since ice cream is eaten quickly and rinses off the teeth easily.

4. Not Wearing a Mouthguard When Playing Sports

It’s important to wear a mouthguard during any sport or physical activity that could result in a blow to the mouth. Unfortunately, only a handful of sports require a mouthguard, though a large number of dental injuries occur during basketball and baseball where mouthguards aren’t typically worn.

Common orofacial injuries include cuts to the soft tissues of the mouth, chipped, fractured or knocked out teeth and/or a broken jaw. Wearing a mouthguard is a proven way to reduce these types of injury and keep your smile safe. If you have braces, wearing a mouthguard is especially crucial as an injury can damage your appliance and the brackets and wires can cause even more extensive trauma to your mouth.

5. Drinking Soft Drinks, Energy Drinks or Sports Drinks

While you can drink soda with braces, we always encourage moderation because soda is one of the worst drinks for your teeth. It contains a large amount of sugar, giving fuel to your oral bacteria and causing them to release acids. Soda also contains acids itself, including citric acid. Citric acid is bad for your teeth in large amounts because it causes enamel erosion. The one-two punch of sugar and acidity is a major contributor to tooth decay.

Is diet soda better for your teeth? Nope. While you skip the sugar, it still leads to acid erosion. Some diet drinks have more acidity because of the artificial sweeteners. In fact, a study on enamel dissolution from various beverages found no difference between regular and diet versions of the same brand.

Energy drinks, sports drinks, bottled iced tea and lemonade tend to be up there with soda too, as they’re all acidic and high in sugar. The same study on enamel dissolution found that canned iced tea actually caused more enamel erosion than most soda, with the exception of Mountain Dew and Sprite.

The effects of acid on enamel are cumulative, so the prolonged exposure inherent in sipping a carbonated drink makes you more likely to experience teeth damage. Your best bet is to drink plain water. If you do have a soft drink, enjoy a small glass as part of a larger meal and rinse your teeth with water when you finish.

6. Brushing Your Teeth Right After Having Something Acidic

Speaking of acidity, as part of a balanced diet things like tea and citrus fruits are fine and, in the case of fruit, even beneficial. But if you do have something acidic, when you brush your teeth matters. So, should you brush your teeth before or after coffee or your morning orange juice? The answer is, before!

That might sound counterintuitive, but the acidity weakens your enamel for about 30 minutes to an hour after eating or drinking. If you brush your teeth before the pH in your mouth returns to normal, you can inadvertently cause further damage to your enamel while it’s in its temporarily weakened state.

Instead, brush your teeth before breakfast and then rinse your mouth out with water afterwards. If you’re prone to coffee breath, you can chew a piece of sugarless gum to get rid of the odor and encourage saliva production. Or, if you’re not in a rush, wait an hour after having coffee, juice or acidic foods to brush.

7. Using Your Teeth as a Tool

It can be tempting to use your teeth to tear open a plastic package or rip a stubborn tag off, but the habit increases your risk of teeth damage. Using your teeth as a tool can weaken them and cause chips or cracks, leading to pain, infection and aesthetic concerns. Preserve your pearly whites by using scissors instead.

8. Constant Snacking or Sipping

How often you eat and drink is nearly as important as what you eat and drink. Again, every time you eat, plaque bacteria feed on the sugars and starches and release cavity-causing acids. It takes 30 minutes to an hour for your saliva to neutralize the acidity in your mouth. Every sip and bite starts the clock over again, exposing your teeth to more acids.

Snacking also produces less saliva than eating a full meal does. This means food bits aren’t as effectively rinsed away and they sit on the teeth for a longer period of time.

To prevent tooth decay and damage to your teeth, minimize snacking and sipping on anything aside from water. When you do snack, eat something that’s smile friendly and low in carbohydrates like nuts, cheese or carrot sticks. Have sugary or starchy foods and drinks with a meal, so your saliva production is in full gear in order to promote remineralization and whisk away debris.

9. Frequently Indulging in Chewy and Sticky Treats

Just as with the starchy things like chips or crackers, chewy and sticky foods stick in the teeth, making you more susceptible to cavities. Raisins and other dried fruits and gummy bears, Sour Patch Kids, Starburst and other candies are especially harmful because they also contain sugar.

10. Sucking on Hard Candies or Cough Drops With Sugar

As long as you don’t chew them, hard candies, lollipops and cough drops should be better for your teeth since they dissolve and won’t get stuck in the nooks and crannies, right? Unfortunately, no.

These types of foods are high in sugar and still expose your teeth to carbohydrates and acid attacks. Since you’re sucking on them and they dissolve slowly, exposure is prolonged. Steer clear of hard candy and lollipops or opt for sugarless varieties (bonus points if they contain xylitol, which helps fight cavities). If you’re sick and need cough drops, look for sugarless ones or at least rinse your mouth out with water after having one.

Are You Ready to Experience Amazing Oral Health?

Aside from avoiding these teeth damaging habits, you can also improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment. Straight teeth are easier to clean and an aligned bite keeps your jaw healthy and strong. To find out your options for braces or Invisalign in Bothell, Monroe or Mill Creek, WA or Juneau, AK, schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics today!