Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Confidence of a Beautiful Smile!

When you first meet someone (and it is a pleasant encounter) what is your first action? In almost every instance it is a smile. Oh sure, you look at the colors of their clothing or the style of their hair but it is the mouth to which the eye is directed. It actually feels a bit weird to stare into someone’s eyes as you talk to them and it is the motion of the mouth and the display of the teeth that you watch as the conversation progresses.

Constructing a beautiful smile is what makes me feel like an artist even though I can’t paint worth a hoot! Interestingly I can see how the finished smile will appear even before I start moving the teeth. I get more excited than patients expect at their initial consultation because of this final image in my mind. Significant changes in patients’ lives can occur with the reconstruction of protrusive front teeth or closing of large spaces that were thought to be permanent until they made their orthodontic appointment with us.

When I return from a vacation I cannot wait until my first day at work comes around! It is this life changing occupation that keeps me excited about what we do here at Hechler Orthodontics. Knowing that a young boy or girl may experience less embarrassment from peer pressure over their lifetime due to our aesthetic changes makes every day so fulfilling. When an adult patient experiences a dramatic change in their acceptance during conversations that aren’t diverted to unsightly teeth, their desire to be in a crowd changes immensely.

I can only hope you find or have found an occupation that gives you as much pleasure and fulfillment in your lives as I have in mine. If you are a student and would ever like to talk about your future as an orthodontist please feel free to let me know.

Dr. Hechler

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Does One Become An Orthodontist?

I get asked the question above quite frequently.  Since I love every minute of my job (sometimes a little too much!), discussing this with me may turn into a longer conversation than you bargained for.  Let's try to get a feel for what is involved in becoming a specialist in orthodontics.

Since dentistry is quite a competitive field to enter, your grades are very important.  High school grades are looked at somewhat by your future dental school but it is the grades you earn in college that are most important to being accepted into a fine school of dentistry.  As we all know, good grades are hard to obtain in any class but especially in the more difficult prerequisites that are necessary for your dental school application.  Biology, chemistry, calculus, physics, anatomy and physiology are some of the courses required at most dental schools.  These classes can turn you into the roommate that has to hit the books Monday nights instead of watching Monday Night Football on ESPN.

You usually apply for dental school during your fourth year in college after taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) previous to that.  This test is equivalent to the MCAT necessary for admission to medical school.  The admission committees usually look not only at your grades and DAT score but also what other extracurricular activities you were involved in.  Working and volunteering in dental offices is important so that you have a knowledge of the dental profession.  The personal interview also helps to distinguish you from other "would be dentists".

Once you start dental school the grades there continue to be of prime importance.  Now you are taking the same classes as most other students that will be competing against you for the orthodontic school positions available after finishing your four year dental training.  Those accepted into an orthodontic residency tend to be in the very top of their dental class.  Many of them have also built up a rather student loan amount which may continue to rise the added cost of the orthodontic training.

Most orthodontic training programs now require form 30 to 36 months after completing four years of dental school.  However, this is where the fun starts because you have finally made it to the instruction for which you have been yearning (for the last 8 years of college!).  My orthodontic residency at Mayo Clinic was for 36 continuous months with no breaks other than the holidays themselves. 

College was fun, dental school was interesting and challenging while orthodontic "school" was the most intellectual fun I have ever had.  I would not change a thing about the whole process and am truly thankful for every day I have spent in the orthodontic profession.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why did I become an Orthodontist?

Many patients and parents ask me what led to my choosing orthodontics as an occupation.  They are also curious to know when I first felt that this may be "what I wanted to be when I grew up."

Unlike most young people, I knew the major I wanted to pursue in college before graduating high school.  Science and math always interested me in school so a biology major was a "no brainer" for me. It was an easy major in which to obtain the necessary prerequisites for dental school as well.  Four years of dental school at UMKC followed college and then off to Mayo Clinic to spend three years in my orthodontic residency.

I had braces as a twelve year old boy and always found it to be a pleasant experience. Dr. McRobert was a kind and caring man while his staff made my visits fun and USUALLY not to painful.  Only once did I hear someone crying in his office during the two years that I made monthly visits.  At that appointment I commented to him that, up to that day, I had never heard anyone crying in his office.  His reply was, "Me neither".  He never spoke of emergency appointments after hours and it seemed to be a dependable 8:00 to 5:00 job.

I thought what is not to like about this occupation!  You could express your creative side by supplying beautiful smiles while working in the health care field.  Everyone in the office smiled while they were working and appeared as some of the most pleasant and attractive people I had ever experienced as a pre-teen. 

So it was while undergoing orthodontic treatment that I made the life directing decision to pursue a future in orthodontics.  This was a from the career path that I was considering at the time which was becoming a church pastor.  I think both professions have benefited from that change in direction!

In next month's blog I'll spell out the educational requirements of becoming an orthodontic specialist for any of you that may be interested in the profession.

Dr. Hechler

Welcome To Hechler Orthodontics!