Orthodontics and me
Here are my answers to these questions:
Why would you be interested in orthodontics?
Why would you want to read about it?
Why would you think of possibly adding it to your practice?
My interest in orthodontics came from an interest in seeing my child patients have the most gorgeous smile as soon as possible, and for as long as possible. It came from seeing children who felt like (and were often called) names like 'Bugs Bunny' (protrusive upper incisors).
It came from seeing children who felt (or were thought of as) “a bully” (Class III mandibular protrusive profile with the resultant “tough” look).
It came from seeing children who felt like they had (and/or were told they had) “fangs” (high, horrid-looking canine eruption).
It came from seeing children who felt as if their teeth were horridly “ugly” (severely crowded or spaced anterior teeth.) It came from seeing children who needed four-bicuspid extractions which in my mind, often decreased the beauty of their profiles and faces.
It came from realizing children with airway difficulties often had lower IQ’s, bedwetting, ADHD, open-bites, and that some of these sequelae would never be different, even when later their “teeth were different” (orthodontically treated).
And, it came from seeing teenagers and young adults who covered their smile (or didn’t have one) so no one could see their teeth.
It came from within.
It was a passion that would not be silenced.
After pediatric dental residency, I had the grand opportunities of first, a fellowship in the orthodontic department at UConn. And then, of working under the tutelage of the great Dr. Walter A. Doyle.
The passion still burns, calls, and my learning never ceases, in making these things better for children, and their parents who love them so dearly. And then, I had to get out there and teach it!
The calling to widen the reach, through you and other dentists who are called like I was, is everything to me. Transforming your life and many other lives through you.
Many, if not most patients you try to educate on dental health don't get it.
So what is a dentist to do?
Part 1: Get Clarity
Have you considered adding orthodontics to your practice?
As a pediatric dentist, and with more than 25 years of practice, I can not imagine practicing dentistry if I did not do orthodontics. It has been part of my practice for all my years of practice. All of them.
But, before I tell you why it’s so important to me, let me ask you:
Why might you be interested in orthodontics?
Why might you want to read about it?
Why might you think of possibly adding it to your practice?
The answers to these questions are the beginning of clarity for you.
Why is that important?
Because the etiology, the source of all your power, and all your joy in life - in practice - is within you, never outside of you. (Likewise, the cause of your weakness and misery is within you as well.) Thus, thinking about and discerning your intent, a clear vision and your actions toward those goals come from your clarity.
As you identify your dream, the reason you are here, the reason you are in dental practice, go back to why you went to dental school. What made that a goal that you would work so hard to achieve? What about it answered that inner longing, inner need, inner source?
In the United Arab Emirates, in the city of Abu Dhabi where I practice orthodontics, I regularly marvel at the amazing, mind-boggling tall and very modern skyscrapers in this city, all built on a sandy desert. I often think the architects must have an absolute blast, getting to design and see to fruition, such unusual, uncommonly distinctive and striking art, in its hold on the cityscape.
Consider the power of your imagination.
So I ask you - how did these buildings come to be? And the answer is, they came to be, the same way your dental career came to be. Imagination. Imagination builds cities. Imagination grows careers. Imagination lessens diseases, originates relationships, and changes the world. Every time. It’s where everything starts.
In other words, we become what we think about. Nothing else.
So, again, I ask you, Why would you be interested in orthodontics? Why would you want to read about it? Why would you think of possibly adding it to your practice?
Consider how your imagination has brought you to this moment. Imagine having your life, your practice blossom in new ways. Imagine.
This is how your life develops. Hold tight to the possibilities, to your dreams, and say goodbye to the “impossibilities” -- because everything is possible. Otherwise the skyscrapers around me would not exist. Smallpox cured, knee replacements, dental implants and your incredible care for your patients were once "impossibilities."
What seems abstract and unreal in the imagination is where the tangible, concrete values begin for you.
You change the world first in your inner world, your imagination.
If this calls to you, “rings” for you, picture orthodontics in your practice! Picture it as a real live active part of your day, and your patients’ great results. Picture the smiles, the joy, the self-views. This is your starting point. How to get there may not be clear. Neither was the cure for smallpox. Neither was your ability to do your first posterior restoration.
Let your values drive your search. Your values to see the smile, to see the great results that are better than what you see all around you. Your values to see joy in your patients’ eyes as well as their smiles.
Your values - the inner quest of you - may be calling.
Orthodontics in your practice can be a real bell-ringer. It can bring you to clarity and uncommon success. It can feed your soul as well as your heart.
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Our beloved dental profession is turning into a war between massive corporations for profits, and you and your patients are in the crosshairs. But the good news is, doctor, that you have a choice. You can follow your own plan rather than the plans of others. Here's how.
Yes, you are indeed. If you awoke this morning, to life, you are in the school of life.
Remember your teachers - favs and not? Remember the substitutes? Sometimes they were nice and easier than your regular teacher, and sometimes they were awful.
And your regular teachers… I remember my fourth grade teacher was my favorite - sweet, kind, ice cream every Thursday afternoon, and learning was wonderful with her! Then there was Mr. Hightower - he was a hard teacher.
Your life school has a hard teacher; his name is Experience. He gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards. No curve.
If you aren’t having challenges, pain, hardships along your schooling, you might want to ask, “God, don’t you trust me? I’m enrolled; I’m ready.” Because in these hard teachers and tests, comes your education in the School of Greatness.
On your way to Great, say thank you frequently. Double major in Greatness and Gratefulness.
Love you, Classmate,
According to studies, being a dentist can be a very hazardous occupation. Practicing dentistry has certain health risks. There are some important ways to approach the profession that help the dentist to stay healthy.
As a dentist, do you find you asking yourself, "What's next? Is this all there is?"
You need a new plan to take you where you want to go. Think about where you are going - give it a thought. And then put energy and effort to what your plan will be.
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
Text and images
© 2019 Dr Chris Baker