Orthodontist Dr. Sharon Lee Mason
510 Baxter Rd. Chesterfield, MO 63017

Doctor means Teacher

Doctor means Teacher

The origin of the word “doctor” is from the Latin verb “docere” which means “to teach”.  This was always something fascinating to me during my training because not only is our job to correct malocclusions and straighten teeth, we should teach our patients about their dental health as well.  We have such a great opportunity in orthodontics!  We get to see patients every 4-6 weeks and we can reinforce great brushing at each appointment and teach them about plaque and the damage it can do to teeth during orthodontic treatment.

We obviously encourage great brushing during treatment at West County Orthodontics but we aspire to do more.  We explain to patients that if it looks like “a little bit of white bread” on your teeth it’s plaque.  That plaque, when given a little bit of sugar (and sugar can be in healthy foods like fruit and milk) produces an acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth.  When the process continues, the teeth become decalcified with white spots that are scars on the teeth and will not come off without fillings or bonding.  We show patients different ways to attack the plaque and have beautiful smiles when braces come off.

When braces are taken off we remind the patients that it is not only a fantastic smile day, it’s a new beginning for their oral hygiene.  With beautifully straight teeth it is easier to brush and amazingly easy to floss.  It is the perfect time to begin new brushing habits to last a lifetime.

We had a patient the other day that got her braces off last month.  She said, “there are a LOT of people out there with really messed up teeth – I really LOVE my straight teeth!  I sure do notice other peoples’ teeth now that mine are perfect!”

We love when the patients become more “dentally aware” of their teeth when their braces have been removed.  They notice others and how great their teeth look.  This awareness is a great start to a life of good dental habits and a great smile for life!

Sharon Lee Mason, DDS, MS

Orthodontist vs. Dentist?

Now that you have decided to get a fabulous smile for life, why go to an orthodontist?

Both a general dentist and an orthodontist are trained with 4 years of dental school.  An orthodontist continues their education after dental school with specialized training in an accredited orthodontic graduate program for 2-3 years of full time orthodontic education and training.

Dentists do get some orthodontic training in dental school, but are mostly trained in general dentistry–fillings, crowns, dentures, cleanings, etc.  Trained orthodontists spend 2-3 years longer in a university than dentists to become specialized and accredited.

Patients need to ask if they are getting their work done by a certified specialist, an orthodontist.  Dentists are able to practice orthodontics, but, unless they have attended and successfully completed a university program to specialize, they are not accredited.  They are not “orthodontists”.

Orthodontists have been specifically trained in tooth movement-orthodontics, and the guidance of facial development-dentofacial orthopedics.

I practiced general dentistry in southern California for 5 years after dental school.  I enjoyed it, but, was really more fascinated with orthodontics than anything else in general dentistry.  There were many weekend and evening continuing education courses that I took to increase my knowledge of orthodontics.  I tried a few orthodontic treatments in my dental practice.  Eventually, I figured out that I wanted to know all I possibly could about orthodontics, so I made the choice to go back to school full-time and get a graduate degree in orthodontics.

Orthodontists are trained in one thing, to give you not only beautifully straight teeth, but aligned teeth and roots, healthy bites, and the best facial aesthetics possible.  Because your smile is a beautiful reflection of you, you want it created by the most highly trained professional possible!

-Sharon Lee Mason, DDS, MS

Why Have Straight Teeth?

Welcome to my Blog!  This is my first attempt at such a project, so bear with me!  I hope to keep it informative, light, and hopefully inoffensive!

Why Have Straight Teeth?

As I watched The Imitation Game and noticed the need for orthodontic treatment among a few of the actors, I wondered why straight teeth are important to some, yet, unimportant to others.  Personally, I look at teeth first when I meet someone…then, eyes.  Clearly, if I am looking at teeth while watching a film, I went into the right profession.

So why do we promote straight teeth?  Most importantly, it looks better, especially on a large screen 10 times life size!  But the real answer is that orthodontic treatment can correct problems like underbites, overbites, crossbites, crowded teeth, incorrect jaw positions, and disorders of the jaw joints.  Orthodontists are trained to treat and correct malocclusions (bad bites).  If left untreated, these problems can result in biting and chewing problems, recession of the gums and gum disease (which can eventually lead to tooth loss), tooth decay, and even headaches and earaches.  Correcting the bite gives a more stable position for the teeth, which makes them easier to clean, easier to take care of, and you can keep them longer, which will allow you to eat a steak when you are 70 years old!

I have a friend practicing orthodontics in England and he always gives us a hard time about how people WANT straight teeth in the US, he can’t believe that!  He blames Hollywood!

So, not only does orthodontic treatment give you a great smile, it also prevents future dental problems later in life.  You don’t really have to take care of all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!

Sharon Lee Mason, DDS, MS

Patrick Scott

Patrick Scott is one of our amazing patients. He not only has a stunning smile, he is enormously talented! Check out his latest music video!

Welcome to West County Orthodontics

Stay tuned for more posts from Dr. Sharon Mason and the West County Orthodontics team.