Dr. Ted Rothstein’s Answers to Survey he was asked to take in 1997

I.  DID YOU HAVE BRACES WHEN YOU WERE A KID?
NO. I HAD THEM AS AN ADULT.
a. How long did you have braces?   ABOUT SEVEN MONTHS.
b. Did you like having braces?    YES!! VERY MUCH.
c. Did anybody tease you?
NOT THAT I CAN REMEMBER. I DID SHOW THEM TO ALL MY PATIENTS.
d. Did a lot of kids in your neighborhood, school or family have braces?
NOT THAT I CAN REMEMBER.
e. Did you grow up in a city, the suburbs, or in a rural area?
I GREW UP IN FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y. (QUEENS COUNTY, NYC). I THINK OF IT AS THE SUBURBS.
f. How did your parents help you with your braces? THEY DIDN’T.
g. What age were you when your braces were taken off? 51
h. Did you like your orthodontist?   VERY MUCH. HE WAS ME.
i.  Did you read any books when you were a kid with characters that had braces?     NO
j. Did you see any celebrities with braces when you were a kid?   NEVER
k. Did you wear a retainer after your braces were taken off?
I TREATED MY LOWER FRONT TEETH MYSELF JUST TO SEE HOW UNCOMFORTABLE THEY WERE. (THEY DID NOT BOTHER ME A LOT). AFTER LOSING MY RETAINERS THREE TIMES I GAVE UP AND LET MY TEETH RETURN TO THE WAY THEY WERE AT THE START.
l. Did you think it was hard taking care of your braces?
NOT AT ALL. I RECOMMEND THE BEST APPROACH IS BRUSHING 3 x’s EACH DAY FOR 3 MINUTES EACH TIME, AFTER BREAKFAST AND DINNER AND BEFORE GOING TO BED.
m. Why did you need braces?
MY LOWER FRONT TEETH WERE CROWDED AND I WANTED TO SEE JUST HOW UNCOMFORTABLE BRACES REALLY WERE.
n  Do you think braces hurt less now than when you had braces put on?
THE PAIN YOU EXPERIENCE IS MOSTLY RELATED TO HOW THE ORTHODONTIST SELECTS AND PLACES THE WIRES INTO THE BRACKETS HE HAS BONDED ON YOUR TEETH. NOWADAYS HE CAN CHOOSE WIRES THAT ARE ALMOST AS THIN AS A TOOTHBRUSH BRISTLE.
o. Do you talk to your patients differently than your orthodontist talked to you?
I TREATED MYSELF. I TALK WITH CARE AND CONCERN FOR MY PATIENTS. I WANT THEM TO HAVE THEIR TREATMENT COMPLETED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DISCOMFORT.

II. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO TO DENTAL SCHOOL?
IN COLLEGE I BEGAN TO DISLIKE PHYSICS AND MATH. I HAD ALWAYS ADMIRED MY DENTIST. WHEN MY COUSIN ONE DAY MENTIONED TO ME THAT HE WAS CONSIDERING BECOMING A DENTIST I DECIDED ON THE SPOT THAT I WAS GOING TO DO THE SAME.
a. Did you like going to the dentist?
SOMETIMES NO. BUT MOSTLY YES BECAUSE MY DENTIST KNEW HOW TO GIVE ME AN INJECTION WITHOUT HURTING ME. THEN WHEN HE WAS TREATING ME I DID NOT FEEL PAIN.
b. Did anyone encourage you to go to dental school?
IN A WAY, YES. MY PARENTS HELPED ME PAY THE COST OF TUITION FOR DENTAL SCHOOL (4 YEARS). ALSO, MY DENTIST TOLD ME THAT HE MIGHT CONSIDER HAVING ME AS AN ASSISTANT.
c. What school subjects helped you with dental school?
“LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES” : BIOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY, ENGLISH, CHEMISTRY.
d. Did you think about doing any other jobs?
I BEGAN COLLEGE THINKING I WAS GOING INTO ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING.
e. Did you know that you wanted to be an orthodontist when you started dental school?
NO WAY! WHEN I GRADUATED FROM DENTAL SCHOOL I WENT TO A HOSPITAL FOR TRAINING IN ORAL SURGERY AND AFTER THAT, AFTER SPEAKING TO MANY DENTISTS, ORAL SURGEONS AND ORTHODONTISTS, I DECIDED THAT THE ONLY CHOICE FOR ME WAS BEING AN ORTHODONTIST. I HAD TO GO FOUR MORE YEARS TO “GRADUATE” (ANTHROPOLOGY) SCHOOL BEFORE I COULD GET TO GO TO ORTHODONTIC TRAINING (2 YEARS MORE).
f. Did you go to college before you went to dental school?
YES. 4 YEARS AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE (1957-1961).

III  WHAT WAS DENTAL SCHOOL LIKE?
YOU MUST STUDY A LOT. I HAD FRIENDS WHO I STUDIED WITH AND WE HELPED EACH OTHER MUCH OF THE TIME. THE FIRST TWO YEARS WE STUDIED MOSTLY FROM BOOKS. DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS WE LEARNED HOW TO WORK ON PATIENTS.
a. How did you choose the dental school that you went to?
I HAD HEARD IT WAS A GOOD SCHOOL. I CHOSE IT BECAUSE IT WAS IN PHILADELPHIA AND I THOUGHT IT WAS BEST TO GET AWAY FROM HOME (FAR ROCKAWAY, NY).
b. Which dental school did you go to?
TEMPLE DENTAL SCHOOL IN PHILADELPHIA, PA.
c. How many years did you go to dental school? 4 YEARS
d. What kind of subjects did you study?
BIOLOGY, ANATOMY, DENTAL MATERIALS, ORAL SURGERY, PROSTHETICS (HOW TO MAKE FALSE TEETH), BACTERIOLGY, HISTIOLGY, DENTAL HISTORY, BIOCHEMISTRY TO MENTION A FEW.
e. Did you work on models?  Where did the models come from?
AT FIRST WE WORKED ON PLASTIC MODELS OF TEETH. LATER WE WORKED ON PEOPLE WHO CAME TO THE DENTAL CLINIC AT THE SCHOOL.
f. Did you work on people or animals at your dental school?
WE LEARNED ABOUT ANATOMY BY WORKING ON CADAVERS (PEOPLE WHO DIED) FROM THE HOSPITAL.
g. Did you learn about how faces change when people get older?
IN DENTAL SCHOOL WE LEARNED NOTHING ABOUT THE SUBJECT. HOWEVER, IN ORTHODONTIC SCHOOL AND IN GRADUATE SCHOOL I LEARNED A GREAT DEAL ABOUT HOW FACES CHANGE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE HOW I MEASURE A FACE GO TO www.drted.com AND GO TO THE SECTION MARKED FOR “ORTHODONTISTS”. IT MAY BE DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND, BUT THERE IT IS ANYWAY.
h. Did you use computers to learn about how teeth change?
YES. I FIRST BEGAN TO USE COMPUTERS TO STUDY FACIAL GROWTH IN 1970.

IV.  WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN ORTHODONTICS?
WHEN I FINISHED DENTAL SCHOOL I WENT TO INTERVIEW SOME DENTISTS AND THEY SAID IF I WAS ABLE TO BECOME A SPECIALIST IT WAS PREFERABLE TO BEING A GENERAL DENTIST. SO AFTER REVIEWING ALL THE SPECIALTIES OF DENTISTRY (7 THAT I CAN THINK OF. I WON’T LIST THEM FOR YOU…..HINT: E, P, OS, O, F, d, Pr.d, I.d). I CHOSE EITHER ORAL SURGERY OR ORTHODONTICS. WHEN I WENT TO INTERVIEW THE ORAL SURGEONS THEY ADVISED ME TO GO FOR ORTHODONTICS AND I’M GLAD I DID.
a. Was there an orthodontic part of dental school?
YES. THERE WAS A ONE HOUR CLASS EACH WEEK DESIGNED TO TEACH HOW THE SURFACES OF THE TEETH MEET EACH OTHER.
b.  Did you think about working mostly with kids and teenagers?
YES. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS I CHOSE ORTH. I DID NOT WANT TO BE IN THE BUSINESS OF “REPAIRING” DECAYED AND MISSING TEETH.
C. Did you want to work on helping people look better?
YES. EXACTLY. “A BEAUTIFUL SMILE LOOKS NICE AND FEELS GOOD”.
d. Did you like to look at people’s teeth and think about how braces would change their face?
THAT’S THE VERY FIRST THING I DO WHEN I EXAMINE A PATIENT.
e. Did anyone tease you when you decided to be an orthodontist?
NO. WHEN I TOLD MY FATHER THAT WAS MY GOAL AND IT WAS GOING TO TAKE ME AN EXTRA 2 (4 YEARS) HE WAS VERY MUCH AGAINST IT BECAUSE HE THOUGHT I SHOULD GO RIGHT OUT AND START TO EARN A LIVING AS A GENERAL DENTIST.

V. WHAT WAS ORTHODONTIC SCHOOL LIKE?
MARRIED…2 CHILDREN…LIVING IN BROOKLYN…SUBWAY TO NEW YORK UNIVERSITY…2 YEARS…FULL TIME…10 STUDENTS IN MY CLASS…STUDYING FROM BOOKS…TREATING PATIENTS…GRATEFUL TO BE LEARNING WHAT I WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
a. Where did you go to orthodontic school?
SEE ABOVE
b. What did you like about orthodontic school?
SEE ABOVE
c. How many years did you go to orthodontic school?
SEE ABOVE
d. What percent of your fellow students had braces as a kid?
ONE THAT I REMEMBER
e. Did you work on models or people?
FIRST WE LEARNED ON MODELS.
f. Did you work on the same people for a long time?
AS A NEW STUDENT I WAS ASSIGNED A GROUP OF PATIENTS THAT THE GRADUATING STUDENTS HAD NOT COMPLETED. AT THE SAME TIME I WAS ASSIGNED NEW PATIENTS WHO I HAD TO BEGIN THEIR TREATMENT AND WORK ON UNTIL I GRADUATED. I WOULD SEE A PATIENT EVERY 4 WEEKS.
g. Did the school teach about how people are supposed to look?
YES. WE NOT ONLY LEARNED ABOUT HOW TEETH AND FACES SHOULD LOOK, BUT WE LEARNED THE GOOD AND BAD EFFECTS OF THE WORK WE DO. LATER ON WITH PRACTICE WE LEARNED HOW TO MAKE “COMPROMISES”. IN FACT, WHILE YOU MAY NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN NOW, EVERY CASE THAT IS COMPLETED BY AN ORTHODONTIST IS TO SOME EXTENT OR ANOTHER A COMPROMISE.
h. Did you use computers to study orthodontics?
NO. BACK IN 1971-73 WE DID NOT HAVE COMPUTERS LIKE WE DO NOW. HOWEVER, I HAVE A VERY SPECIAL DEGREE (Ph.D.) DOCTORATE IN PHILOSOPHY WHICH I EARNED BY DOING A VERY SPECIAL STUDY IN GRADUATE SCHOOL. IF YOU GO TO MY WEBSITE (www.drted.com) AND CLICK THE BUTTON FOR ORTHODONTIST YOU CAN READ ALL ABOUT IT (IT’S VERY DIFFICULT, EVEN FOR ME AND I DID IT WITH A LOT OF HELP). I WORKED WITH “BIG” COMPUTERS FOR 2 YEARS BEFORE I WENT TO ORTHO SCHOOL.
i. Did the school teach you how to work with kids and teenagers?

NO SPECIAL CLASSES WERE GIVEN THAT FOCUSED ON TEACHING HOW TO WORK ON KIDS AND TEENAGERS. WE WERE TAUGHT ABOUT THE SPECIAL BITE PROBLEMS THAT KIDS AND TEENAGERS COME INTO THE OFFICE WITH.

i. Did you watch other orthodontists work with patients?
YES. SOMETIMES IN-PERSON, BUT MOSTLY BY LISTENING TO OTHER ORTHOS AT SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS WHERE THEY DEMONSTRATE HOW THEY CORRECTED CERTAIN ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS.

VI.  WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE AN ORTHODONTIST?
WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR WORK AS MUCH AS I DO, YOU WAKE UP HAPPY AND GLAD TO GO TO WORK. WHEN YOU LIKE PEOPLE AS MUCH AS I DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOUR PATIENTS AND CARING FOR THEM LIKE OLD FRIENDS. WHEN YOU TAKE OFF THEIR BRACES YOU ARE VERY HAPPY FOR THEM AND MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE BIT SAD BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN. THE WORK IS SOMETIMES VERY CHALLENGING. SOMETIMES THE PATIENTS, ESPECIALLY THE YOUNGER ONES, ARE VERY NON COMMUNICATIVE.
a. How long have you been an orthodontist?
SINCE 1971 WHEN I STARTED ORTHO SCHOOL.
b. Do you have to be strong to be an orthodontist?
YOU HAVE TO BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR HANDS AND BODY MOTIONS AT ALL TIMES. THAT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE WORKING IN A PATIENT’S MOUTH AND QUITE CLOSE TO THEIR HEAD AND BODY. YOU MUST WORK QUICKLY AND SMOOTHLY WITH SPECIAL CARE SO AS TO AVOID DOING HARM TO THEM WITH YOUR INSTRUMENTS. SOMETIMES YOU FIND YOURSELF IN UNUSUAL POSITIONS BECAUSE THE PATIENT’S MOUTH IS SMALL OR YOU HAVE TO WORK IN SOME SMALL CORNER OF IT.
c. Do you get tired of working on people’s mouths?
THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED TO ME YET.
d.  What percentage of your patients are kids, teenagers and adults?
What percentage are female and what percentage are male?
KIDS 55%  ADULTS 45%   FEMALES 55%  MALES 45%
e. Have you ever seen someone have an allergic reaction to their braces?
NO. BUT I HAVE HEARD ABOUT PATIENTS WHO HAD ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO THE NICKEL THAT IS USED TO MAKE UP SOME TYPES OF ORTHO WIRE. I HAVE HAD PATIENTS WHO WERE ALLERGIC TO THE RUBBER GLOVES I WEAR ALL THE TIME.
If so, did they know it was because of their braces?  What does an allergic reaction look like?
RED BLOTCHES.
f. Is it difficult to explain to kids what’s wrong with their bite and what
needs to be done?
I SPEAK IN PLAIN WORDS TO ALL PATIENTS. I TAKE THE TIME TO TELL THEM ABOUT WHAT I MUST DO TO TREAT THEM. AS LONG AS I DO NOT HURT THEM THEY ARE OK WITH THE TREATMENT.
g. Are kids easier to work with than teenagers?
NO, KIDS ARE HARDER. THEY MOVE A LOT AND ARE MORE FEARFUL AND APPREHENSIVE AND TEND TO BE MORE UNCOOPERATIVE..
h. If there is a problem with braces, can kids explain the problem to you?
THEY SAY “IT HURTS HERE” OR “THE WIRE IS BROKEN” OR “I BROKE A BRACKET” OR “OUCH” WHEN I STICK THEM.
i. Do you put the braces on all at once or do you put them on a little at a time?
I USUALLY PUT ON THE BRACKETS (12) ON THE TOP TEETH. WHEN THEY RETURN IN 4 WEEKS I PUT THE FIRST WIRE ON. 2-4 MONTHS LATER I PUT THE BOTTOM BRACES ON. IN THAT WAY THEY GET USED TO THE BRACES. THE FIRST WIRE IS USUALLY VERY SOFT AND THE WIRES BECOME INCREASINGLY HARDER AND THICKER. (ABOUT 5 WIRES IN ALL)
j. How do you help kids get used to braces?
SEE ANSWER H

k. Do you recommend any books to help them with braces? So you know of any books with characters with braces that kids would like?

I GIVE MY PATIENTS A BOOKLET WHICH I MADE UP TO HELP THEM KNOW HOW TO GET THROUGH TREATMENT WITH THE LEAST PROBLEMS.
l. Do you take pictures of them during their visit?
RARELY
m. How often do you take x-rays?
ALWAYS AT THE START, AND SOMETIMES DURING THE TREATMENT
AND SOMETIMES AFTER I REMOVE THE BRACES.
n. What happens when kids loose a tooth when their braces are on?
THE BABY TOOTH STAYS ATTACHED TO THE WIRE AND SOMETIMES BECOMES A NUISANCE. THEY RETURN TO THE OFFICE AND I REMOVE IT FROM THE WIRE.
o. Do people call you for emergencies a lot?
EMERGENCIES DO HAPPEN. THEY ARE RARELY, IF EVER, SERIOUS. MOSTLY THEY CALL TO TELL ME THAT THEY BROKE A BRACKET BUT THEY ARE NOT IN PAIN.
p. What are some of the emergencies people have with their braces?
BROKEN BRACKETS…SHARP WIRES…LOOSE BABY TOOTH…
q. Do you get to know the patients pretty well?  Do they e-mail you?
YES, I GET TO KNOW THEM PRETTY WELL. IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “GET TO KNOW SOMEONE PRETTY WELL”. I DO GET EMAIL FROM THE KIDS AND I DO RESPOND TO IT.
r. Which specialists do you work with?
ORAL SURGEONS AND PERIODONTISTS MOSTLY.
s. What can kids do if their lips get hurt by the braces?
I GIVE MY PATIENTS WAX TO COVER THE BRACKETS OR WIRE THAT ARE THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM.
t. Do you recommend any special machines for cleaning teeth and braces?
I’M OK WITH ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES BECAUSE THEY CLEAN BETTER THAN YOU CAN DO BY HAND ALONE.
u. I heard that soda is bad for braces.  Is that true?
SODA WITH SUGAR IS VERY BAD FOR THE TEETH BECAUSE THE SUGAR TENDS TO REMAIN ON THE TEETH AND OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME (3-9 MONTHS) CAN CAUSE YOU TO HAVE CAVITIES. IF YOU MUST HAVE SODA THEN BRUSH YOUR TEETH SOON AFTER! HOW DO I KNOW THIS? ALL MY CAVITIES WERE CAUSED BY SODA WITH SUGAR WITHOUT BRUSHING AFTER.
v. What are some of the things kids tell you they are afraid of with their braces?
SEE SPECIAL ARTICLE: INTERVIEW I WROTE FOR A LOCAL NEWSPAPER.
w. I heard that there are guards to put on if you play a wind instrument or play sports.
Are these guards a good idea?  Are they hard to use?  Are they expensive?
I HEARD THAT THERE ARE GUARDS TO PUT ON IF YOU PLAY A WIND INSTRUMENT OR PLAY SPORTS. I DON’T KNOW OF GUARDS FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. GUARDS FOR SPORTS ARE AVAILABLE AND COST $5-$20. I THINK THEY ARE USEFUL AND PROTECT THE BRACES AND THE TEETH.
x. Do you look at celebrities and think about whether they had braces?  Have
you ever worked on someone who was or became a celebrity?
YES. NO.

y. What do you think of computer imaging? Is it the same technology when the police show what a missing kid would look loke when they are older? Does it help kids work harder to take care of their braces?
COMPUTER IMAGING CAN SHOW IN ADVANCE OF THE TREATMENT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE BY HAVING THE DENTAL LABORATORY TAKE THE PATIENT’S MOLD WITH THEIR CROOKED TEETH AND STRAIGHTEN THE CROOKED TEETH ON THE MOLDS BY CUTTING EACH TOOTH OFF.

z. Which part of getting braces do kids like the least?
SEE SPECIAL ARTICLE INTERVIEW.

"Experience and reputation really count when it comes to providing quality patient care."