ABERDEEN — Le Orthodontics of Aberdeen is a family affair — in a number of ways.
Just under three years ago, Dr. Huong Le and her husband, Don Nguyen, purchased the orthodontics practice of Dr. John Forrester, who retired after serving area families for 38 years.
Forrester still owns the building at 218 N. Broadway and occasionally stops by Suite 2 upstairs, now the home of Le Orthodontics, to visit with his former staff, who became part of Dr. Le’s practice.
Le worked with Forrester for six months before he retired to get to know the patients and help provide a smooth transition for them, as well.
And “every now and then, he’ll pop in, take us girls to lunch,” said office manager Kathy Trask, who’s been with the practice for more than three decades. Since the staff members’ children grew up while their moms worked for Forrester, “we have to fill him in on everybody,” she laughed.
The staff not only works together, “we’ve raised our kids together; we vacation together; we really are more than just a staff,” Trask said. “We’re a family; it’s kind of funny, ’cause now we’re all at the stage where my son got married last year, Shelley’s daughter’s getting married next year … Kathy’s kids are having kids. We’re all going through these cycles together,” she said.
Also lending to the feeling of family is the fact that Le Orthodontics has a “very relaxed atmosphere,” Trask noted. “We don’t give shots,” she said. “There’s not a lot of pain involved with orthodontia.”
The open treatment area also helps, as “a lot of the kids know each other,” Trask said, and parents are welcome to accompany their kids. Additionally, “Dr. Le’s got a very easy-going personality,” she said.
Meet the ‘family’
The “Kathys,” as Nguyen refers to Kathy Trask and Kathy Childress — have worked there for a combined total of more than 53 years.
“The Kathys know everybody by their first names,” Nguyen said.
Besides being office manager, Trask, is also treatment coordinator and has been with the practice for 33 years. “It’s a good place to work — obviously, or we wouldn’t still be here,” she laughed.
Childress, the scheduling coordinator, has been on the job for more than two decades.
“Our patients enter as strangers but leave as friends,” she says on the Le Orthodontics website at www.leortho.com. “It’s a fun job,” Childress said, adding that it’s great to see “such a huge transformation (in their patients), even in their personalities.”
Sammie Dameron, a clinical assistant, has been a member of the staff for a quarter of a century, although she might not like thinking of it that way. The team has been together so long, she says, that “we are a well oiled machine.”
Shelley Borden assists Dr. Le in providing treatment to patients, in addition to producing study models in the in-office laboratory. Those oral impressions are taken for new patients and used to determine treatment. Being part of the team since 1989, its members seem “more like family than co-workers,” Borden echoes her co-workers.
Carolyn Pavola is Dr. Le’s in-office lab technician. She’s been with the practice for more than 22 years and makes retainers and appliances, which speeds up the process for the patients to receive them.
Lisa Randich, the backup chair-side assistant, has been there for 20 years and enjoys helping when needed, as well as having a part in the patients’ “amazing transformations.”
The newest staff member, assistant lab technician Anna Lichty, joined the team about six months ago.
Dr. Le has more than 16 years of experience in the dental field. She graduated summa cum laude with a biology degree from Oregon State University of Corvallis in 1994. She earned a doctorate in dental medicine with high honors from the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry in 1998.
She practiced general dentistry for six years in Portland before earning her Fellowship Certificate in Orthodontics at the University of Florida’s School of Dentistry and completed her postgraduate residence in orthodontics at St. Barnabas Hospital in New York.
She and Nguyen have been married for 10 years and have twin sons, Quan and Kiet.
Nguyen, who works online from the same site in data security and compliance, also puts his information technology skills to use at the orthodontics practice, especially in helping to ensure patient information security and that the practice is compliant with federal privacy standards.
Le Orthodontics has a new Facebook page, which has patient testimonials, a contest and more. The contest features such prizes as a Kindle Fire and an iPAD.
“Tell them to ‘like’ us on Facebook,” she said.
The staff has also added some incentives for patients, especially the younger set, to encourage them to keep up with their brushing, flossing and other good oral hygiene practices.
The incentives include in-office contests and a new rewards program, with some of the payoffs other than “toothsome” items.
Patients can earn “Le bucks,” including one buck for every “A” on their report cards or wearing the color of the month, for example, and 10 for having their teeth cleaned. The bucks are good for items in a cabinet “we have stocked with things that they can purchase,” such as Silly String, MP3 players, footballs, board games and gift cards, Trask said.
January’s office contest was guessing how many clear beads were in a jar; February’s is guessing the total number of heart candies in the jar. Winners receive a $25 gift card.
A quarterly drawing also rewards dental hygienists, Trask said. When patients have their teeth cleaned, the names of their hygienists are put in a jar. The hygienist whose name is drawn receives a gift “as a kind of thank you for taking care of our patient,” Trask said.
Orthodontia isn’t just for kids, by the way. Dr. Le also has teen and adult patients; about 30 percent of her patients are adults. In any case, there are a lot of bright smiles of the happy faces of folks of all ages at Le Orthodontics.
Except for summer, the office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Summer hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information or an appointment, call (360) 533-1660.
A bright and healthy smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. Crooked, crowded teeth are more difficult to clean and maintain, which can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss.
Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth or misalignment of the jaws.
Orthodontic treatment can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising from orthodontic problems.
Appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or plastic. They may be removable, or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth into a corrected position.
Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. Patients can now often choose clear or metallic brackets and sometimes the color of the ties that hold the wire in the brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be, and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort.
It generally takes about two years to bring about a sunny new smile to a Le Orthodontics patient, and there will even be some fun along the way.
Six oral hygiene tips for
patients provided by Le Orthodontics:
• Brush after every meal or snack.
• Floss daily to remove trapped food and particles.
• Rinse with mouthwash after eating to kill any bacteria present.
• Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
• Clean teeth with a Proxabrush (a special between-the-teeth toothbrush that cleans underneath and around wires and braces).
• Maintain regular checkups with a general dentist throughout orthodontia treatment.