OTC: Hello Dr. Kelly! We’re thrilled to welcome you as the newest member of On The Cusp Pediatric Dentistry team. Can you tell us a little about why you joined the team?
DK: I love treating kids and OTC needed an orthodontist. So it filled a niche! Now, it will be easier for patients to stay in-house in order to get better treatment.
OTC: You’re an extremely experienced orthodontist and have been practicing now for almost 30 years. That’s amazing!
DK: It is. This year I just started my 29th year of practice.
OTC: What do you enjoy most about your work?
DK: I enjoy changing faces and changing personalities. I love changing the way someone feels about themselves. Boosting their esteem and their confidence. When you talk to someone, one of the first things people see is your face and a lot of people look directly at your teeth. When you have a beautiful smile, it all flows. It doesn’t get any better than that.
OTC: There probably isn’t much that you haven’t seen during your career. Are there any memorable cases or patients that stand out in your mind?
DK: Yes. One stands out substantially. It was a young lady, about 12-years-old. She came in with a severe overbite. When she first came to me, she was incredibly quiet. She wouldn’t say a single word. Her appearance bothered her tremendously. After about a year of getting her teeth back, her personality completely changed. It was a total transformation. She was outgoing, wore make-up, fixed her hair. We couldn’t get her to stop talking long enough to work on her.
At the end of the treatment, her parents thanked me for helping their daughter come out of her shell. That’s been 25 or 26 years ago now. I still have her ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures up on the board. Helping her confirmed it for me. I knew I’d chosen the right profession.
OTC: Wow. What an incredible story. Since that time, there have been some incredible technological changes in orthodontics, too.
DK: There have been some developments, yes, but there is also some misconception.
OTC: In what way?
DK: There’s this idea of ‘fact braces.’ Treatment that takes only six or eight months. You need to be cautious about that. There are new materials that can be used, but the physiology of the teeth hasn’t changed. You can only move teeth so fast if you want them to stay. It’s going to take close to two years if you want to move them properly so that they stay where you put them.
Technology is a great thing, but you’ve got to respect the physiology of your teeth.
OTC: That’s a good point. It’s obvious you’re looking out for your patients.
DK: I don’t treat anyone else’s kids any different than I treated my own. I’m old-fashioned, I guess. When I see a patient, I’m going to personally do all the work on them. It’s like I tell my patients, “You’re going to see me whether you like it or not.” We have a good time.
OTC: So you provide comprehensive orthodontic services for the whole family, correct?
DK: Right! We treat children and adults. I have quite a few families. One time, I had the mother, son, daughter, and husband in treatment all at the same time. It’s often a family affair. The kids get treatment and the parent says, “You know what? I could get my teeth fixed, too.”
OTC: When people hear the word “orthodontics” they typically think of braces. Is orthodontic treatment more involved than that?
DK: It’s not just about braces. You’ve got to put the teeth in a position that they’re going to stay. It’s not just lining the teeth up and straightening the teeth. It’s putting them in balance with the skeletal aspect of the body.
OTC: What is the ideal age for a child to have his or her first orthodontic screening?
DK: I screen kids as early as 6, 7, and 8, but the ideal treatment time is between 11 and 13. You want to work during their growth spurt so that you’re not treating against the growth but with the growth.
OTC: How important is having a board-certified orthodontist care for your family?
DK: I think it’s one of the most important things. Only about 22 or 23% of orthodontist in United States are American Board certified. To become American Board certified, you have to go beyond normal orthodontics requirements. It’s a process. A long process. American Board certified orthodontists are working to get the most out of their education in order to know as much as possible about different treatments.
OTC: It’s rare to see a board-certified orthodontist at a pediatric dental office. What are the benefits to patients and their families of bringing those services under one roof?
DK: It’s a benefit to the patient because they can go to the same place and see the same staff. For example, as an orthodontist, I grade my patients’ brushing. If there’s something with their teeth I see, I’ve got the pediatric dentist right there. I can call them over and we can address any issues instead of sending them somewhere else. It’s so convenient to have everything right there. It also saves the family time if there’s a problem that arises.
OTC: If someone suspects they or their children need braces, what is the best first step towards treatment?
DK: Make an appointment. We don’t charge for initial consults. If they think there’s an issue, we’d love to see them, talk to them, and see what needs to be done, if anything.
OTC: Beyond practicing, you also teach at the Charles H. Tweed International Foundation in Arizona, correct?
DK: Yes. I teach a two-week hands-on-course. I’ve also taught in Mexico, France, and taught other courses around the state.
OTC: How does that aspect of continuing education prepare you to help patients?
DK: This course I teach is a refresher course on how to bend wire and treat cases. It’s good to see what’s going on and to see what other countries are doing.
OTC: Any final thoughts for someone considering orthodontic treatments?
DK: If it’s something you think you might need, come in and we’ll let you know. We’ll give you all the answers to any of the questions you ask. If there’s something that concerns you or bothers you about your smile, the way you bite, or the way your teeth look, we’ll to look at you and address your concerns and see if there’s something we can do to make those concerns go away.
HC: Thank you Dr. Kelly. It’s been wonderful getting to know you.