Why did you become an orthodontist?

By: Dr. Carmen Garcia-Paul, DMD, MS

Last week, I went to an elementary school to speak to 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders about braces and brushing their teeth. I love giving these presentations because the kids get so into it. After showing them a video of what it looks like when you get your braces put on, many of them told me that they felt “completely relieved” and “not terrified anymore.” I think that they thought that the braces had to be drilled into the teeth, but by the end of the video they were excited rather than scared of the process.

After the presentation, I always leave time for questions because kids always seem to want to know more about braces and flossing. In the 2nd grade class, I had to go one by one because every single child had a question. One of the 4th graders asked me, “What made you decide to become an orthodontist?” That question made me pause for a second. I had to think back to over 13 years ago when I first started this journey, but my answer is the same now as it was when I was asked in my dental school interview at UPenn. I decided to become an orthodontist because I wanted to help people. Every day, I get to help create beautiful smiles. Some patients come in because they’re being teased at school, some because their parents say that they won’t smile in pictures, and some because they want to have straight teeth for their quinces or wedding pictures… and I can help them all. It’s a very rewarding feeling. The great thing about orthodontics, is that I get to see my patients every 6-8 weeks. I get to see them grow up, hear about their accomplishments, and they become like family.

The 4th graders wrote me thank you letters for speaking to their class. I had to share a couple because they made me smile…