Some people grow up knowing what they want to do. I was NOT one of those people. I actually have a “paper” that I wrote in 5th grade and at that time I wanted to be an ophthalmologist (I couldn’t even spell this back then). This was probably because I had recently been given the ability to see clearly when my mom took me to get glasses after I could not read a board from across the pool at a swim meet. When I went off to college I had every intention of going to medical school and probably becoming a surgeon. It was not until midway through college that I even considered going into dentistry. I think that for a long time I did not want to follow in my family’s footsteps (my dad and uncle are both dentists). It was not until the day that I took the MCAT (medical school equivalent of the SAT) that I decided dentistry would be the perfect field for me. It would allow me to connect with people, help people, and not have to deal with a lot of issues that medical doctors have.
While I was at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry (GO BLUE!) I considered a career in several different fields of dentistry. For about 10 days, oral surgery seemed like a fun job. I have always thought that being a surgeon would be an awesome job. However, when I found out what it takes to become a surgeon I did not feel that the stresses that one experiences on a daily basis would be a good fit for my personality. After oral surgery, I considered general dentistry for a while, and then I had a class taught by Dr. James Boynton – a pediatric dentist and one of the biggest personalities at Michigan. He had the ability to make almost anybody want to be a pediatric dentist, and I was no different. So, I spent almost a year thinking that my calling was pediatric dentistry.
During my third year of dental school, Dr. James McNamara came into my life. He teaches an orthodontic course every year, and it was this course that single-handedly changed my outlook on what I should be doing with my life. Dr. McNamara has been practicing in Ann Arbor and teaching at the university since the early 1970s. Jim has changed the lives of literally tens of thousands of people through his work. It was his course that made me realize that there is no other field in dentistry where you can have such a great relationship with so many people at one time. It also helps that I find the process of orthodontics incredible. The fact that we can MOVE TEETH through the jaw still amazes me every day. I spoke with Dr. McNamara after the course ended and told him that I wanted to specialize in orthodontics. He connected me with Dr. Alexis Tessler, a resident at that time, and gave me a position helping Dr. Tessler with her research. I was lucky enough to match into the orthodontic program at Michigan where I received the best training in the country, with Dr. McNamara as my mentor. There has not been a single day that I am not thankful for the opportunity that I have been given because I have the best job in the world.
I can’t recall when I first met Dr. Tyler, but I have known him for many years, mainly through the swimming community. Although not MY orthodontists, TDR treated my sister, and all of my cousins. I even called Dr. Tyler to ask him which orthodontic program I should attend. I got to know Dr. Dumas and Dr. Reyes while doing my research with TDR. During my residency, my wife Kelly and I had a hope that I would have a chance to join the TDR team, but when they hired Dr. Wise it seemed that was unlikely. At that time we began looking into jobs down south where we both went to college, however through a series of fortunate events I found myself with the offer of a lifetime: the ability to join an amazing practice in my hometown! Kelly and I knew that this was something that we could NOT pass up. After graduating from the orthodontic program I took a week off and went backpacking through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and then started working. I tell people that I am “living the dream” or that this is “another day in paradise” a lot, and I mean it when I say those things. I have the best job in the world.