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We are an orthodontic practice devoted to enhancing the natural beauty of your smile using conservative, state-of-the-art procedures that will result in beautiful, long lasting smiles.

State of the Art

Self ligating braces made in the U.S.A.
Empower Clear Braces
Invisalign preferred provider

Affordable

We don’t want finances to get in the way of your treatment needs. We offer custom, no-interest financing options designed to fit into your monthly budget.

Convenient

We are happy to see you at any of our 3 Whatcom County locations:  Bellingham, Ferndale, & Lynden.

Dr. Shoff

Dr. Mike Shoff has extensive experience with difficult interdisciplinary cases as a former member of the VCU Craniofacial/Facial Reconstruction Team. His orthodontic training includes Invisalign certification and experience with all of the latest orthodontic technologies.

Learn More about Dr. Shoff and meet the Shoff Team

Teenage orthodontics:

Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first put on or when adjusted during treatment. After the braces are on, teeth may become sore and may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Patients can usually manage this discomfort well with whatever pain medication they might commonly take for a headache. The orthodontist will advise patients and/or their parents what, if any, pain relievers to take. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces.  Orthodontic wax applied to an offending bracket will help relieve discomfort. Overall, orthodontic discomfort is short-lived and easily managed.  Once patients have become accustomed to their braces, they may even forget they have them on.
Today’s braces are generally less noticeable than those of the past.  The brackets are smaller and are bonded directly to the teeth, minimizing the “tin grin.”  Brackets can be metal or clear depending on the patient’s preference.  In some cases, brackets may be bonded behind the teeth (lingual braces). Some of today’s wires are made of “space age” materials that exert a steady, gentle pressure on the teeth, so that the tooth-moving process may be faster and more comfortable for patients. A type of clear orthodontic wire is currently in an experimental stage.  Another option may be the use of a series of plastic tray aligners instead of traditional braces to correct some problems.  Your orthodontist will advise which type of orthodontic appliance will best correct your problem.

Yes.  Patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. They must not chew on pens, pencils or fingernails because chewing on hard things can damage the braces. Damaged braces will almost always cause treatment to take longer, and will require extra trips to the orthodontist’s office.

Keeping the teeth and braces clean requires more precision and time, and must be done every day if the teeth and gums are to be healthy during and after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning.  The orthodontist and staff will teach patients how to care for their teeth, gums and braces during treatment. The orthodontist will tell patients (and/or their parents) how often to brush, how often to floss, and, if necessary, suggest other cleaning aids that might help the patient maintain good dental health.

A good reason to keep teeth, gums and braces clean during orthodontic treatment is that clean, healthy teeth move more quickly!  This will help keep treatment time as short as possible.

Patients who are active in contact sports, whether in organized programs or just games in the neighborhood, should wear a mouth guard.  Talk with your orthodontist about the kind of mouth guard to use while braces are on.

Good “patient cooperation” means that the patient not only follows the orthodontist’s instructions on oral hygiene and diet, but is also an active partner in orthodontic treatment.

Successful orthodontic treatment is a “two-way street” that requires a consistent, cooperative effort by both the orthodontist and patient. To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must carefully clean his or her teeth, wear rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed by the orthodontist, avoid foods that might damage braces and keep appointments as scheduled. Damaged appliances can lengthen the treatment time and may undesirably affect the outcome of treatment. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their desired positions if the patient consistently wears the forces to the teeth, such as rubber bands, as prescribed. Patients who do their part consistently make themselves look good and their orthodontist look smart.

To keep teeth and gums healthy, regular visits to the family dentist must continue during orthodontic treatment.

Although every case is different, generally speaking, patients wear braces from one to three years.  Treatment times vary with factors that include the severity of the problem, patient growth, gum and bone response to tooth moving forces and how well the patient follows the orthodontists’ instructions on dental hygiene, diet and appliance wear (patient cooperation).  Patients who brush and floss thoroughly and regularly; avoid hard, sticky, crunchy and sticky foods; wear their rubber bands and/or headgear as instructed; and keep their appointments usually finish treatment on time with good results.  After the braces are removed, most patients wear a retainer for some time to keep or “retain” the teeth in their new positions.  The orthodontist will determine how long the retainer needs to be worn.  Most patients remain under the orthodontist’s supervision during the retention phase to ensure that the teeth stay properly aligned.
After braces are removed, the teeth can shift out of position if they are not stabilized. Retainers are designed to hold teeth in their corrected, ideal positions until the bones and gums adapt to the treatment changes. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed is the best insurance that the treatment improvements last longer. It is normal for teeth to change with increasing age.
Studies have shown that as people age, their teeth may shift. This variable pattern of gradual shifting, called maturational change, probably slows down after the early 20s, but still continues to a degree throughout a lifetime for most people. Even children whose teeth developed into ideal alignment and bite without treatment may develop orthodontic problems as adults. The most common maturational change is crowding of the lower incisor (front) teeth. Wearing retainers as instructed after orthodontic treatment will stabilize the correction and can prevent most of this change.
Research suggests that wisdom teeth do not necessarily cause teeth to shift.  In most cases, removal of wisdom teeth is done for general dental health reasons rather than for orthodontic health.  Your orthodontist, in consultation with your family dentist, can provide guidance regarding removal of wisdom teeth.
Choose foods that are softer.  Right after you get braces or whenever they are adjusted, you may want foods that require little or no chewing such as soup and macaroni and cheese.  Cut or tear sandwiches and pizza rather than biting into them.
If a portion of the appliance breaks, let your orthodontist know so that arrangements can be made for repairs.
Tongue-piercing jewelry may contribute to breakage of appliances and to tooth and gum damage from contact with the stud.

Adult orthodontics:

Yes.  Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily for adults as for children. Orthodontic forces move the teeth in the same way for both adults and children, but adult treatment may take longer due to the maturity of the bone. Complicating factors, such as lack of jaw growth, may create different treatment planning needs for the adult.  This is why a consultation with an orthodontist, the dental specialist who aligns teeth and jaws of patients of all ages, is essential.

Adults are not growing and may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and the bone that supports the teeth. Orthodontic treatment may then be only a part of the patient’s overall treatment plan. Close coordination may be required among the orthodontist, oral surgeon, periodontist, endodontist and family dentist to assure that the treatment plan is managed well. Below are the most common characteristics that can cause adult treatment to differ from that of children.

No jaw growth: Jaw discrepancy problems, including both width and length, in the adult patient may require jaw surgery.  For example, if an adult’s lower jaw is too short to match properly with the upper jaw, a severe bite problem results. The amount that the teeth can be moved in some cases, with braces alone, may not correct this problem. Establishing a proper bite relationship could require jaw surgery, which would lengthen the lower jaw and bring the lower teeth forward into the proper bite.

Gum or bone loss (periodontal breakdown): Adults are more likely to have experienced damage or loss of the gum and bone supporting their teeth (periodontal disease).  Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth.  The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth.”  Many people are unaware that they have gum disease because there is usually little or no pain.

Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes inflammation in the gums.

The mildest form of the disease is called gingivitis.  The gums redden, swell and bleed easily. Gingivitis is often linked to inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is often reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body, in essence, turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.

The good news is that teeth that are properly aligned are less prone to gum disease.

Special treatment by the patient’s dentist or a periodontist may be necessary before, during and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable. Adults who have a history of or concerns about periodontal disease might also see a periodontist (a dental specialist who treats diseases of the gums and bone) on a regular basis throughout orthodontic treatment.

Worn, damaged or missing teeth: Worn, damaged or missing teeth can make orthodontic treatment more difficult. Teeth may gradually wear and move into positions where they can be restored only after precise orthodontic movement. Damaged or broken teeth may not look good or function well even after orthodontic treatment unless they are carefully restored by the patient’s dentist. Extra space resulting from missing teeth that are not replaced may cause progressive tipping and drifting of other teeth, which worsens the bite, increases the potential for periodontal problems and makes any treatment more difficult.

One of the problems commonly associated with jaw muscle and jaw joint discomfort is bruxing, that is, habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, particularly at night.  Bruxism is a muscle habit pattern that can cause severe wearing of the teeth, and overloading and trauma to the jaw joint structures. Chronically or acutely sore and painful jaw muscles may accompany the bruxing habit. An orthodontist can help diagnose this problem. Your family dentist or orthodontist may place a bite splint or nightguard appliance that can protect the teeth and help jaw muscles relax, substantially reducing the original pain symptoms. Sometimes structural damage can require joint surgery and/or restoration of damaged teeth. Referral to a TMJ specialist may be suggested for some of these problems.

Your dentist is probably recommending orthodontics so that he or she might treat you in the best manner possible to bring you to optimal dental health. Many complicated tooth restorations, such as crowns, bridges and implants, can be best accomplished when the remaining teeth are properly aligned and the bite is correct.

When permanent teeth are lost, it is common for the remaining teeth to drift, tip or shift. This movement can create a poor bite and uneven spacing that cannot be restored properly unless the missing teeth are replaced. Tipped teeth usually need to be straightened so they can withstand normal biting pressures in the future.

It’s never too late! Orthodontic treatment, when indicated, is a positive step—especially for adults who have endured a long-standing problem. Orthodontic treatment can restore good function.  And teeth that work better usually look better, too. A healthy, beautiful smile can improve self-esteem, no matter the age.
Patients are finding that braces are more affordable today than ever.  The cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on many factors, including the severity of the problem, its complexity and the length of treatment.  Your orthodontist will be glad to discuss the cost with you before treatment begins.  Most orthodontists have a variety of convenient payment plans.  Often there are combined plans available for parents and children who have treatment at the same time. In addition, many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits.  Dollar for dollar, when you consider the lifetime benefits of orthodontics it is truly a great value.
Pregnancy brings on bodily changes that can affect the mouth.  Soft tissues such as gums become much more susceptible to infection. The possible need for x-rays during the pregnancy is not advised.   Discuss this question with your medical practitioner/physician and orthodontist before you start orthodontic treatment.
This procedure goes by many names: enamel stripping; interproximal reduction; slenderizing; reproximation and selective reduction.  The goal is to remove some of the outer tooth surface (enamel) to acquire more space for your teeth.  The procedure has been used in orthodontic treatment since the 1940s and has been shown to be safe and effective.  Some studies among patients who have had this procedure show that it neither makes teeth more susceptible to tooth decay nor does it predispose patients to gum disease.
Crooked teeth should be evaluated by an orthodontist so that the most appropriate treatment plan can be suggested.

Bellingham Office

Lynden Office

Ferndale Office

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Phone:

Phone: 360-676-1401
Fax: 360-676-4097

Office Hours:

Monday – Friday
8:00am – 5:00pm