MYTHS DEBUNKED PART 5: The Perceived Vanity of a Healthy Smile

MYTH: Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic. 

TRUTH: Function first, but cosmetic improvements are often a happy side effect.

gabriel-silverio-221749-unsplashThis week we address the common myth that depicts braces as a purely cosmetic treatment. This is my least favorite myth on so many levels. Many people assume that they don’t need braces because they don’t mind their imperfections but then run into major health problems later in life.

Teeth that are aligned and healthy not only look good but hold up well to wear and tear. Poor bite relationships can wreak havoc, causing premature tooth wear and fracture/breakage, as well as gum and jaw problems. A misaligned bite could also lead to chronic headaches, earaches and gastrointestinal problems from the impact of improper chewing. Braces will help avoid all these health concerns while facilitating better oral hygiene, improved digestion and nutrition habits. In addition, straightening your teeth will reduce your chances of gum disease, stop bone erosion, and correct speech impediments.

Orthodontic treatment can also enable other dental work, such as creating space for crowns or dental implants. Bottom line: There are many functional reasons for orthodontic treatment, and an attractive smile is a fun bonus.

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MYTHS DEBUNKED PART 4: An Ounce of Prevention Could Be Worth a Pound of Orthodontic Cure

MYTH: My child is too young for orthodontic treatment. 

TRUTH: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends ALL children see an orthodontist by age seven. 

janko-ferlic-354852-unsplashMany parents believe that middle school and high school is the time to start thinking about braces. While the majority of kids wearing braces fall into that age category, visiting the orthodontist at a younger age can provide many long-term, even preventative, benefits.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children see an orthodontist by age seven, and while most children will not need treatment at this age, some have serious orthodontic problems that could result in damage if not detected early. Issues such as a narrow upper jaw, cross bite and lack of space for permanent teeth are much easier to correct at a younger age. Early orthodontic intervention will also diagnose teeth development issues including premature loss of baby teeth, impacted adult teeth, and unbalanced jaws.kamal-bilal-511362-unsplash

Early orthodontic evaluation and treatment can help prevent issues from increasing in severity, and might also help you save money through reduced treatments down the road. Even if you’re confident your child has a naturally healthy smile, consider a consultation with a board certified orthodontist part of your child’s well check routine starting around age seven.

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MYTHS DEBUNKED PART 3: Healthy Smiles Have No Age Limit

MYTH: I’m too old for orthodontics.

TRUTH: It’s never too late to love your smile.

Welcome back to Myths Debunked, where this week we tackle the misconceptions surrounding orthodontic treatment and age. Many adults believe that they’ve missed the window to straighten their smiles, and this is just simply untrue!

In fact, the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment is growing: 27% of all US and Canadian orthodontic patients are 18 years old and older. Adults are seeking orthodontic treatment not only to straighten their smile, but to also improve their overall oral health.Untitled design (3)

As we get older, our teeth tend to shift around, potentially causing health concerns beyond just a crooked or overcrowded smile. For example, an astounding 75% of adults have malocclusion, a condition where teeth do not fit together correctly, resulting in plaque buildup and issues with chewing and swallowing1. Other common side effects of misaligned teeth include strained facial muscles and chronic head and ear pain. More and more adults are turning to orthodontic treatment to improve their smiles, self-confidence and overall health.

My growing community of adult patients – one of my favorites is 81! – has access to a number of treatment options, which are low impact and relatively quick in delivering a smile they’ll love for the rest of their life.

Options we commonly offer to adults include traditional braces, Invisalign, and clear ceramic braces, all custom designed with a patient’s unique needs in mind. It’s never too late to get the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.


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MYTHS DEBUNKED PART 2: Invisalign’s Perfect Fit

MYTH: I’m not eligible for Invisalign® treatment.

TRUTH: Times, and technology, have changed.


We often see people give up on the dream of the perfect smile all because they don’t like how braces look. We learned from our last Myth Debunked post that today’s braces are lighter, more attractive, and less painful, however, we know our patients can be overwhelmed by orthodontic treatment options. A far too common point of confusion is from those who don’t want braces for aesthetic reasons, yet assume – or have been told – they are not eligible for Invisalign clear aligners.


invisalign adult patient

As we learned in the last post, the times of orthodontics have changed, people! Improved technology, maturing techniques and a depth of experience have opened Invisalign aligners as an option for nearly all ages and treatment needs. Invisalign’s clear aligners are removable, transparent and offer a discrete alternative to straightening your smile without the traditional metal bracket-and-wire braces. Over five million patients have successfully straightened their teeth with Invisalign treatment, and the numbers are continuing to grow as orthodontic technology advances to treat a wider range of clinical concerns.


With major strides in the last decade, Invisalign treatment continues to evolve and improve. Today, Invisalign clear aligners can be used to treat nearly every issue no matter how complex. If you were previously told that you were not eligible for Invisalign treatment, come see me and I will help you achieve the confident smile you deserve.

Invisalign and the Invisalign logo, among others, are trademarks of Align Technology, Inc. and are registered in the U.S. and other countries.Images courtesy of Align Technology, Inc.






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MYTHS DEBUNKED PART 1: Braces, Pain, and Pursuit of the Perfect Smile

MYTH: Braces have to be painful to work.

TRUTH: Not anymore.

The most common misconception we hear is that braces have to be painful to work. Many people who have never experienced orthodontic treatment assume that the process is painful, but those who have had braces know that is far from the truth. Many people don’t consider the major advancements in orthodontic technologies and still imagine the heavy, old-school brackets of the past.

foods to eat with bracesToday’s braces utilize lighter forces and less friction to painlessly straighten teeth in less time. With modern technologies, tools and techniques, we are able to give patients a pleasant experience with minimal discomfort. Some patients will occasionally experience a dull ache, similar to sore muscles after a workout, while others experience little or no discomfort at all.

And there are steps you can take to keep those sensitivities at bay. Make sure to stay away from hard foods, including candy, crunchy snacks, steak, and other difficult-to-chew foods. Eating soft foods for the first several days after getting braces will allow for minimal discomfort. And make sure to come see me regularly so we can make necessary adjustments to ensure your teeth are aligning as quickly and as painlessly possible.

Braces are not nearly as scary as they are made out to be in movies and T.V. How do you think your favorite movie stars got their perfect smiles? In reality, braces aren’t a big deal. They won’t be painful, they won’t set off metal detectors and they definitely won’t increase your odds of being struck by lightning. Braces have come a long way over the last couple decades and there has never been a better, less-painful time to start the process.


wearing braces and smiling confidentlyIf potential braces pain still has you running for the door, stayed tuned for our next myth on Invisalign eligibility. There are many options to choose from when pursuing a confident smile. Make sure to watch out for the next installment in Myths Debunked!

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Congrats, Grads!: Dreaming Big with Walker Orthodontics

Scan 3Graduation is just around the corner, and I’d like to congratulate the class of 2018 on all your hard work. In celebration of this exciting time in your life, I wanted to share my own personal journey to finding my dream job and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

It may come as a surprise, but I didn’t always want to be an orthodontist. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, after witnessing an autopsy of a dead bull during one of my shadowing sessions, I quickly realized the profession wasn’t for me. I then started searching for other opportunities in the community and came across an orthodontist who let me shadow for an afternoon. Considering my childhood hobby of crafting faux braces from paper clips, I thought I’d give it a shot. During that four-hour shadowing experience, I knew I had found my dream job.

I fell in love with the profession knowing little about it and even less about the schooling and experience required. As soon-to-be-graduates prepare for their next step, I want to share what I learned in the process:

To be an orthodontist, you’ll need a general dentistry degree plus an orthodontic certification – which means a lot of school!

I earned a business degree from Washington State University and then a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Minnesota. That was eight years of schooling, and I wasn’t done yet.

Scan 1Before earning my certificate in orthodontics in a three-year residency program, I served for three years on active duty as a general dentist and commissioned officer with the United States Navy.

A good mentor is hard to find, and absolutely critical. My mentor was my hometown orthodontist, who generously allowed me to observe, ask questions and get early hands-on experience with dental tools. Later, Dr. Mark Shoger, whose Murrayhill practice I bought in 2014, provided me with mentorship around business ownership. These two doctors helped form my orthodontic philosophy and business strategies, and I am eternally grateful to them both.

The best orthodontists uniquely blend left- and right-brain power. Every day I have to employ the skills of an artist, accountant, computer engineer and counselor. This is a huge reason why I love my job; when you have to wear this many hats, you’ll never be bored!

The industry is changing, and future orthodontists will need to evolve to keep up. In my practice, we employ 3D imaging, 3D printing, custom braces, aligners and accelerated tooth movement – all technologies that didn’t exist 10 years ago. I participate in hundreds of hours of continuing education each year, and students entering the field must be prepared to work to evolve with changing technology and patients’ needs.

Orthodontics is a field that uniquely blends entrepreneurship and artistry with technical expertise. On the brink of massive growth, the orthodontic industry is projected to grow 19 percent between now and 2026.[1] Plus, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Every day I have the honor of helping my patients to achieve healthy smiles and gain confidence. I get to flex my creativity, explore business strategies and develop meaningful relationships with patients that last forever.

[1] United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 13, 2018.

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Walker Orthodontics partners with Girls on the Run

As part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen the communities of SW Beaverton, Walker Orthodontics proudly partners with an amazing Girls on the Run team at Nancy Ryles Elementary. Through scholarships, subsidized registration fees and the purchase of shoes, we get to foster a community of strong, smart and courageous girls.


Last week, we had the opportunity to join the Nancy Ryles’ Girls on the Run team during one of their practices. We shut down the office for the afternoon and took a trip out to the school to share a lesson on what it means to be a good friend. We sat in a circle sharing the characteristics we look for when choosing friends, and discussing what it means for a friend to have HEART: Helps, Encourages, Acceptance, Really listens, and Treats you with kindness. We compiled all of our thoughts onto a poster board, each writing in our contributions with colored markers, and hung it up outside the school.

The activity brought the girls closer, and reminded us that we all have the power to be a great friend, and to pick friends who lift us up with kindness and acceptance. We concluded the lesson with a HEART relay exercise, where we got to put the acronym to use and get our blood pumping on the track.

NancyRylesGOTRHeartLessonI was so taken aback by how strong and perceptive these girls were during our lesson together. As the future of our community, these girls stand strong together and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of their journey. Go get ‘em girls!

To learn more, visit the Girls on the Run website.

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Smiles Change Lives Partnership Helps Children in Need

Walker Orthodontics has teamed up with Smiles Change Lives (SCL) to provide orthodontic treatment to children who need braces but can’t afford them.

Founded in 1997, SCL has partnered with caring orthodontists like Dr. Walker to provide pro bono orthodontic treatment to children. Over the years, more than 1,500 children have been helped. Without SCL, most of these children would not have received the treatment they needed. Getting treatment often helps alleviate the social, physical, and emotional difficulties children face from having dental deformities.

patient oliver with bracesOur first SCL patient, Oliver, wrote Dr. Walker a heart-felt letter saying, “I’ve been extremely self-conscious of my teeth as to where keeping my mouth closed would be second nature. Now thanks to Dr. Walker and Smiles Change Lives, I’ve been blessed with the greatest gift of all – a nice smile. After graduating high school, I plan to join the marines and serve the nation as a way to help others the same way I have been helped.”

“I truly believe that a confident smile affects a child’s future relationships, education, and job opportunities. I became an orthodontist because I wanted to help people. Walker Orthodontics partnered with Smiles Change Lives to help kids in our community who may not otherwise have the opportunity to LOVE their smile.” – Dr. Walker.

smiles-change-lives-patient-stanleySince launching our participation with this wonderful program, we have had the chance to meet and help several children. Stanley is one of the great kids we’ve had the privilege to help.

Walker Orthodontics began providing braces for kids who qualify through SCL in January 2017. We are excited to continue to help children in our community for many years to come! To learn more about SCL, please visit

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Dr. Walker Featured in Murrayhill Living Magazine

Murrayhill Living Magazine

Click to download the PDF

Murrayhill’s Dr. Walker began her orthodontic journey in grade 3, when she started making her own “retainers” out of paper clips and gum. She didn’t need a retainer but wished with all her heart she could wear one. Later, as a high school senior in rural Washington, her interest in orthodontics returned and she set her sights on becoming an orthodontist one day.

After attending college and dental school, Dr. Walker served as an officer and dentist in the United States Navy. Fourteen years after her high school graduation, Dr. Walker completed her post graduate program in Orthodontics in New York City. It was a long but worthwhile pursuit. Living in the Big Apple was exciting, but she missed her family and the fresh air of the Pacific Northwest.

Returning Home

Dr. Walker searched for a community to call home, and the wonderful Murrayhill neighborhood of Beaverton was a perfect fit. Dr. Walker purchased her orthodontic practice from a retiring orthodontist and Walker Orthodontics was born. She loves being a member of such a vibrant community, and decided to live in the neighborhood as well. Dr. Walker creates confident, beautiful smiles for patients ages seven to 81. The opportunity to help people in a community that she calls home fulfilled a lifelong dream.

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