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SPONSORED CONTENT: Dr. Robert B. Nay of NAY Orthodontics is an orthodontist who clearly is the real deal in helping patients smile. We spoke with him about opening his own practice, the growing Invisalign market and more.
What first drew you to orthodontics, and what made you want to follow this as a career path?
It was a long journey, but I essentially always wanted to become a doctor because I enjoyed helping people. I started out on the med school track, but then personal events changed my desire to become a physician. My roommate came back from spring break during junior year and said he was going to dental school and I immediately said ‘so am I.’ Having a bad bike accident when I was 8, I experienced countless hours in the dental chair—root canals, bonding, braces, crowns, etc.—but actually enjoyed the process and really admired my dentist for what he did. Thus, I applied for dental school. While in dental school, I found orthodontics to be the most fascinating specialty—seeing how teeth moving can transform not just one’s esthetics, but overall self-confidence. Thus, I wanted to learn more and chose orthodontics as my career to fulfill my dream of being a doctor who helps people smile!
When did you first start NAY orthodontics, and why did you want to have your own practice?
After serving a military commitment in Germany, we moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to family, however, a few winters there influenced us to make the move further south. Having family and friends already in the area, Raleigh quickly felt like home. I was looking to partner with someone to share the load and/or purchase an existing practice that has patients/staff/work/income that is ready. It’s like buying a turn-key home vs. building from scratch and having to go through all the steps as it slowly comes to fruition. I worked as an associate for a few years, but knew that wasn’t the place for me and I was not getting any younger so I decided to make the plunge and start my own practice before it was too late. We opened the doors in 2013 and have trouble keeping them closed!
What do you love the most about being an orthodontist?
I love the feeling of being an artist or magician that can transform a smile from ugly duckling to beautiful swan! Plus patients are typically coming in with some sort of motivation to change their bite/smile and that makes it easier for them to understand that they have to play an active role in their treatment, especially with oral hygiene. When the patients are finished, all of their hard work is rewarded with a smile—which says it all—and that’s what I absolutely love the most!
What makes NAY orthodontics a great practice? What do you love the most about your practice? What about your team?
The profession of orthodontics has evolved into more of a business that focuses on marketing and finances first. At NAY orthodontics, we primarily focus on the profession of providing quality orthodontic care in a fun and positive environment. Patients can expect to come in and feel like they’re part of our family instead of another number. I’ve worked in huge orthodontic practices that see 100 or more patients a day, and honestly, you start wondering if you’re really delivering quality care when you’re that busy. Relationships are huge for my practice! We intentionally schedule half of the number of patients per day so that the team can really focus on not only the treatment, but also building rapport with these patients. You could say that quality over quantity is the ethos of our practice. As for my team, they are a huge part of my success and I depend on each of them. I always want them to feel appreciated and try to be fair, as they are an extension of me and my vision for our practice.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned in terms of your career?
Despite the associateships not leading to anything more, I still learned a lot with each experience, the biggest of which is that success doesn’t come without blood, sweat and tears. These doctors had created very profitable practices, albeit skinning the cat a different way, so I valued the opportunity for comparison as it helped mold my idea of how I wanted to practice. For instance, I feel Invisalign is a sign of the future and I want to be able to offer that treatment option to all patients. Ultimately building up the practice from scratch and doing it MY way has been all the more gratifying. I don’t have to answer to anyone, but I do have to answer everything.
Are there any new techniques that you are currently employing at NAY orthodontics?
Not particularly “new” but our Invisalign market has been growing exponentially, especially since the pandemic. In fact, the world of clear aligners and digital printing has been making great strides. Invisalign, which pioneered the market starting back in 1997, has since become the world’s largest 3D printing company. Initially, the product had its flaws and limitations, influencing some doctors to stay with braces as the only orthodontic treatment option they offer. But the research and design has drastically refined its ability to better move teeth with more precision and control. At NAY orthodontics, we have been explaining to our patients the advantages of Invisalign and it has become the popular choice among our patients.
What are the advantages of Invisalign that patients find to be more appealing?
Well, our society is becoming more vain with all the cosmetic surgeries and diets and lasik. Orthodontics is not immune to that and, within our field, the thought of being able to improve your smile/bite with a clear and practically invisible tray instead of clear braces is more desirable. Also, Invisalign is removable which allows patients the ability to eat whatever they want or brush and floss without any limitations. Invisalign is less invasive on the oral tissues where braces would poke and create ulcers on the cheeks and lips. We tend to see less emergencies with Invisalign, and with the ones we do encounter, we are able to address it without the patient having to come into the office. This became apparent during the pandemic as we were able to see how we could track a patient’s case virtually. Unfortunately we don’t have this luxury with patients who have broken braces or poking wires and need to be seen in the office. Another advantage we have seen with Invisalign is being able to offer longer monthly intervals between appointments instead of weeks, keeping the number of appointments down so as not to intrude on the patient’s school/work/family time. It has really opened up schedules for our patients so they can focus more time in other places.
Any advances with Invisalign that you are especially excited about?
Some of the advances are old news for the doctors, but with patients it tends to come across as being new technology. In particular is the use of Invisalign trays in conjunction with elastics. For patients coming in with an overbite or underbite, they may be aware that they may be required to wear rubber bands to correct their bite, assuming that the only option will be braces. However, patients are shocked that we can correct these types of malocclusions with Invisalign. Having the ability to incorporate a hybrid treatment with both partial braces and Invisalign, we are able to address impacted (trapped) teeth such as canines and molars. Even challenging cases that once required both braces and jaw surgery can now be treated by Invisalign alone.
What is the best advice you give your patients in regards to clear aligners?
Beware of the DTC (direct to consumer) companies out there! These are aligner companies that have used many of Invisalign’s expired patents to advance their products, however, you are not being monitored by a licensed dental professional! Many of these companies have said the cases are reviewed by a doctor, but instead are being planned by a lab technician who has no dental license/training. Patients have come to our office with some major dental issues because they were using these DTC trays without a dentist or orthodontist evaluating treatment progress. While you may hear of some cases where it works out, please continue to seek the care of a trained professional. You wouldn’t buy a cast to fix a broken arm at home by yourself—you should treat the teeth no differently.
Technology is changing every day—any new medical devices that patients would want to know that NAY orthodontics uses?
We utilize an intraoral scanner which has eliminated the need for the goopy material to capture models of the teeth. Patients often dread those impressions and we enjoy the scanner’s chance to make the process more comfortable. In addition, our radiographs are digital, which drastically cut down the radiation exposure to levels that are safer than a flight across the country.
What is next for you and your business?
I love what I do and I don’t plan on retiring any time soon, so I am going to have to roll with the times ahead—and that appears to be clear aligners in orthodontics. Invisalign continues to impress me with their technology and clinical results, more than likely growing within my practice. I will remain a lifelong student and learn the newer technologies and incorporate the best ones into our office. For me locally, I continue to support my Morrisville community and larger Cary/Raleigh/Durham areas in delivering excellence in orthodontic treatment. I also plan to take time to enjoy the present… to stop and smell the roses.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, be sure to get back to your general dentist as the pandemic has scared some people away. Dentists were already using the highest level of precautions in personal protective equipment. In regards to orthodontics, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that a child have an orthodontic examination at the age of 7. Other than that, keep smiling! NAYortho.com; 919.380.9922; 6406 McCrimmon Parkway, Ste. 240, Morrisville
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