Braces have been evolving for centuries, from the metal bands and catgut used by the ancient Egyptians to the tortuous headgear that gave kids nightmares about getting their teeth straightened. Even today, orthodontic treatment continues to change at a rapid pace.
The last 40 years have seen so many changes for the better when it comes to patient care and convenience—clear aligners, 3D scanners, online chat, using social media for marketing and virtual consults.
- Discover the most important thing in life and orthodontics
- Learn what the most effective orthodontic marketing is, according to Dr. Stevens.
- Find out ways to improve office culture for staff and patients
Richie Guerzon: Hey everyone Our Guest today on doctor to doctor is Dr. Clark Stephens. Dr. Stevens is the owner of Braces Omaha and the founder and CEO of wild Smiles braces. He's also the founder of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Dental Facial Clinic. He received his DDS degree from University of Nebraska dental college and his Ms. and orthodontic certificate from University of North Carolina Department of Orthodontics. He's here today to share his insights and wisdom from his 40-plus years in the business. Dr. Stevens. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Thank you very much. Thanks. I'm excited to be here. It’s going to be fun.
Richie Guerzon: So you've been it's 40 years, huh? So you're the title is of this segment is 40 days and 40 years. So tell us a little bit about what you're thinking when you came up with that idea.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Okay. Well, it was 40 years ago that I got started in Orthodontics. Yeah, I went to dental school in the late 70s and then I got out of my orthodontic program in North Carolina and the end of August of 79 and then my first patient I saw on January of 80, so it's been time now in the fortieth year. I went to dental school because I thought I want to be either a doctor or a medical doctor or dentist was able to get into dental school after two years of undergraduate work. So I went to dental school but I hated Dentistry. I just didn't really enjoy it. I've been been an artist through high school and college. What I did is I made metal sculptures and sold them at our shows. That's the only job I've ever had except for Orthodontics where I work for myself. And so during that time I was being a pretty creative guy. So Dentistry was seemed to me like repair work. There was nothing that was really creative in it in the way that it was presented to me at the time. So I told my dad I said if I don't get into Orthodontics, I'm going to be a bartender or something else. I was fortunate to get into Orthodontics right away, or I don't know what I'd be. So, I enjoyed that whole experience in Orthodontics in North Carolina. Dr. Proffit was an incredible mentor of mine. He challenged me to think about things and to grow and I really really did love that. But you know I started out I had great parents and I have one older brother, but I think a lot of times you have to have something be your base that you work from and my parents, they probably started me out with some basic rules to love God and love your neighbor and to save some money along the way so those things have helped me.
Richie Guerzon: Those are good pillars to live by.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: so that helped and then you know, I think God gave me a talent to be a little bit creative so I'm always thinking of new things and trying to come up with that and that's what makes Orthodontics so fun for me is that everybody is a new creation something new I can do. So I really like that part.
Richie Guerzon: How long were you with Dr. Proffit?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, that was just two and a half years the ortho program then and then over the years though he became a little bit more of a closer friend in that I always went back to Chapel Hill for
things and then he also helped me design Wild Smiles Braces. Well, not design them, but help Mentor me through the process because I didn't know anything about manufacturing braces and I know little bit more about it. Now, you know things have changed quite a bit since I started out 40 years ago. So when in The Residency all of our patients except one were completely banded. All the anterior teeth have bands on all the posterior teeth have bands on. So they are all bandoned and there were some early bondable brackets that were a perforated base. It was just sort of like a pad with holes in it and the bracket was welded on it. And then that was smashed onto the teeth and the composite material to come through and that would hold it in place. So those are the bonded brackets they weren't that aesthetic but they put the were more comfortable to put on so that whole concept really moved along pretty quickly after that within a direct bonding and those kinds of things but one of the things that happened in making bracism, the twin brackets have pretty much been the same since Edward Angle developed it in 1900 but through the all the braces were made out of gold until the middle 50s and Unitech started making stainless steel instead of gold and then they also had the concept of sending salesman across the country to sell this new product as a they're cheaper than the gold. So that's really what got the stainless steel going was Unitech starting that in the 50s and then there is a thing called metal injection molding, which most brackets are made of now and that was really developed by the Russians and that started in the late 60s because they were able to make a cast of brackets or cast something and you can cast it and it's a hundred and fifty percent bigger than the actual finished product so you can make the mold bigger than what you finish with. So once you cast it with this kind of resin material and you heat up material after you take the mold apart and then it shrinks down to the actual size. So that's the way most brackets are made today. Before then, what they would do is they would cut a slot in the bracket. So it would be an actual mechanical thing that would cut a slot and I believe Ormco still does that on their custom appliances. They'll cut the slot in place, but now most of them are molded. They used to change the size of the slot from a O18 to O22. It was O22 originally with a gold and then the mechanical principles of stainless steel would suggest you should use a O18 bracket because it's much stiffer than gold. That's why there is this discrepancy. Orthodontist are very slow to change. They still prefer the O22 bracket over the O18 bracket. So it's kind of an interesting thing. But anyway, that's why I got started which is a little bit different. There was really no phase one treatments and surgery was just starting, North Carolina was a big place for surgical treatment.
Richie Guerzon: So, how long were you in North Carolina? And when did you go to Omaha?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Yes. I want to Omaha at the end of 1979. And since I knew about orthodontic surgery, I thought well, this is great. I know about the surgery and not very many people in town are doing it well, and it was because they just didn't want to do it and didn't know about it. So I went to the oral surgery department and they said oh we're so happy you're here because we'd send patients to the orthodontist and never get them back. And at the time they were doing some single tooth osteotomies. They cut the anterior teeth, retracted the gingiva and then cut the anterior teeth between the teeth then they suture that back up wait about a month and then they fracture the teeth forward to align them so that they could do some jaw surgery. So when I came to town, they were really happy that I knew about surgical Orthodontics and then I teamed up with a young doctor at the time Harrell and we started the demolition program there and I did that for a long time, but one day a week on Monday or two days.
Richie Guerzon: So you've been in practice for those 40 years?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: I've been in practice for 40 years.
Richie Guerzon: And you're teaching at the same time you're in practice?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Yeah, so because you’re not that busy when you first start out and I thought well most doctors work four days a week. So I thought I'd work the clinic one day a week. And so that's what I did. You know, I'd take some phone calls during the week but mostly I was just there one day a week where we did a treatment planning session and then tell the patients that they needed surgery.
Richie Guerzon: So fast forwarding to today we're going through this covid19, which is your 40 Days part of the talk. Has it been tough? What has it been like?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well no, and yes. I didn't ever experience being scared about or wondering about what's going to happen because I do have a faith in God. I feel like God has control of my life. And so, I don't need to worry about stuff day-to-day. So, I just I feel like it's going to be fine. And I think America is a great place. And so I think we're going to get through this thing. So that part hasn't been tough. But what's been tough is just figuring out what to do during the time when you have nothing to go on. So what it did is cause me to think about some stuff and then it also challenged me about what am I going to be like in the future because 40 days can be a major change in your life, you know when you don't need like maybe I think it's seven times you have to read Peta task and then all of a sudden becomes a habit while 40 days of repeating these two things, becoming a habit for everybody, people wondering what we're going to do with it. And I think one of the things that's become more important to me is I think relationships are much more important. I realized that I really like meeting new people. I like being out. So, I think the relationship thing is really super important and then probably we all did stuff or do stuff that really doesn't matter, and I'm less interested in consumer stuff than I was before.
Richie Guerzon: I have been wondering that myself because I mean the whole economy is built so much on us spending and everyone is immediately gone into saving, making sure that recently, you know, they are saving their resources. So, I wonder how much it's going to affect just long-term spending habits in general.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: A couple gals that work for me there been eating at home. And so, they have all of their money now and have been buying online. So I think there will still be some purchasing going on I don’t know about cars and houses and remodels. I don't know if those are all going to change. In the middle of this I replaced a driveway in my house, which is not really a purchase that is any fun. Just spend a lot of money for it, but I think those kinds of things I will still purchase. It's been challenging to think about the future, we are so concerned about the immediate future you kind of start to think about was that going to be like what's your relationship with your patients and your team and all that kind of people.
Richie Guerzon: Have you changed a lot of processes in the practice right now?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, I'm not sure that we need anything yet because we haven't really started. We start next week back with patients we see.
Once a week, we've been seeing emergency patients, you know. I have one adult patient in every week because he has some concerns and some people have things off and you need to fix so there are some reasons to take care of patients who have emergencies. We've been doing some social distancing in the reception room. We've kind of marked off some chairs that are not to be used and we have a couch in there and we are only going to let two people sit on the couch and we are asking next week when patients start to come in that they come in healthy. Then we are also going to have them brush their teeth when they get there and I'll use some mouth wash with alcohol in it to rinse out the before we start on them and we keep patients separated. So we're going to do those kinds of things and we don't have any of the amenities we used to have. We took the coffee out. We took the water out. We took a contest we had some toys or games and things for people play with while they wait, we took those out. And so those kinds of things will definitely change for a while.
Richie Guerzon: How have patients been responding during this off time?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, I think one thing that I realized is that we had some patients and parents call in and say ‘Hey, you know I still need to spend some money and my savings account. So can I buy a couple extra retainers and pay for those in advance just to be able to use that before’. And then we found that we had a couple people pay off when they orthodontics. So the people have continued to pay over this period of time I think what that told me is that our patients really trust us that we are kind of part of their family and in a way that we try to be really close with them and we yeah, you know, I'm fun. My staff's fun. We really like to interact with them. So I had never really realized I mean I knew that did but once you realize that they are starting to pay when they don't have to.
Richie Guerzon: They are prioritizing you over so many other things they could spend the money on, that’s a huge thing.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Especially when we can't see them till May or June, you know, well, okay, I might not pay but they have so that was really great. And I also think when they call in someone call in and say so what do you have going on when you can see patients the very understanding if we had to postpone remove alone. It was kind of a moving target at first, so we would just cancel patients a week in advance. We wouldn't go and cancel the whole month until we knew about it. Yeah, so I think that was easier on patient. Everybody was kind of dealing with the same thing. What's going to happen next? But I think that the that whole thing of patients really liking us and loving us and trusting us was a big deal learn.
Richie Guerzon: I know it shows you obviously have been doing the right things all this time when people care about you.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: I mean you always remember the ones that don't appreciate your care.
Richie Guerzon: So, have you have you experienced a revenue shortfall? What has that been like?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, you know, no we haven't. Actually we've been really aggressive this last year in marketing the practice and we have seen a lot of growth and so actually my April revenue last year was less than my April revenue of this year and we didn't do any stuff ad people paid in advance. So it was an incredible thing. We don't feel too bad and we have a bunch of new patients scheduled to start coming in May and we've had three new patients last night, people starting to come back. So I think we're not going to have any revenue shortfall because there wasn't any which I found surprising.
Richie Guerzon: That says a lot about the practice for sure. Where do you think those new starts in May came from? Were they from you mining pending patients? Was it from marketing efforts just not stopping?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, it was from an ongoing marketing. We would give away some free treatment for practice spokespeople. So, we had several people apply for that and come in and set up as a new patient appointments. They will start it anyway and then so we're going to give one away we have those and then we are also doing some stuff with teachers giving a teacher reward away and we have a few of those who were going to see. We thought about how it is expensive to continue to do that too. Should we quit and not do the marketing? Well, this is probably the best time for marketing because there's nothing out there.
Richie Guerzon: The cost per ads are lower just because there's not as much competition. Has profitability been just as good as revenue?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: What I want to look at a little bit is where did I make the most money over the last few years and I think if I could be the orthodontist that only made replacement retainers, that would be great. They're very profitable. But you know, that's the most profitable area. The second most profitable thing well is patients that had phase one and phase two treatments because their treatment fee ends up being usually larger and their treatment time doesn't need to be that much longer and those Phase 1 and phase 2 are probably the most profitable. The next is braces and the least problem are aligner patients. I think they all have to be part of your system. But there's a lot about aligners out there about how aligners be great for your practice because you can lose an employee and that'll save you some money, but there are, at least in my practice and maybe it's because of the way I am, but a lot of those aligner patients are very high maintenance.
Richie Guerzon: Just in general, like their persona? The type of person getting aligners?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Yes. And they need my attention so it takes a little bit of time. So anyway, what I had never looked at is the probability of phase 1 and phase 2. phase two are full treatment and aligners so I am still going to do them all, but I think I found that patients one of the things that I found that I wondered about is if patient's really understand the benefit of Orthodontics because so, you know here I am not doing anything. Are they going to come to the office? They're going to want to come in? Yeah, and I think they really do understand for their kids that go ‘I want my kids to have the best future possible. I want them to be able to present their smile among the peers and be more secure’. All kinds of studies show us smiles help you out in life more than non smiles as so I really think that that's a huge thing that those patients will keep coming and I also think the patient that is maybe an adult and design treatment function or the why or the Aesthetics they're still going to come back. I think more if they have insurance than if they don't or they have a stable job. People who will sacrifice for their kids and one thing that I noticed a few years ago, but I didn't really think about as much as I have over the past weeks was that I have patients and they had braces as a kid bringing their kid in when they're 7 or 8 and I say, okay, can we get started with something now that's going to make it easier for him. I know in North Carolina ad Bill Proffit was one of the first guys out there that all these 2,500 patients did some Phase 1 treatment and Phase 2 and he saw no benefit for doing Phase 1 treatments compared to doing it as later on when they're teenagers. So that was what I always told patient. However, even though it's not any more efficient as a young person than it is as a 12 or 13 year old, I think you get compliance a lot better and then you can get that done and also if the patient doesn't happen to respond to your growth, then you're in a perfect place to say. Okay now we need that.It did not work. We have to talk about doing jaw surgery or compromise. It doesn't fix your bite completely but it really helps me communicate with the patient what they need to do. I think it's kind of a nice thing to do a phase 1 and phase 2 because you know the kind of you can get the skeletal result you need and then finish up Phase 2 in any way they want to pay as one, you know, it was perfect for my Wild Smiles brackets you know? Like the colored ties that like almost they want but we'll see them wearing so they love that and I think little bit more control when you put braces on and then you do with aligner therapy as far as the anterior placement of the teeth the rotations and those kinds of things I think work really well with fixed appliances. They don't always work with Invisalign or any other kind of alignment liner.
Richie Guerzon: You’ve really become a fan of phase 1 over the years?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Yeah, and I think now more than ever because I think that people are going to come in and ask us to do some stuff maybe at a lower cost. So the first phase doesn't cost a lot and they can come in and get started and then other thing about night patients that have had phase treatment. They're more likely to finish up with her face, too if I have them on recall, and if I just had them on an observation. observations, you can trail along or you have you know, a lot of Orthodontist have a kids club and they try to encourage them to come in. But once they've had braces they're always pretty dedicated to come back in. So, I think I think that makes it also better to think about doing some phase 1 treatments.
Richie Guerzon: So, what do you think about all these virtual consults being introduced into the process?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, I looked at my percent of patients who make an appointment at my office and do not show up. And one of the things we asked them to do is to fill out their health history online before they come in and all their insurance information submit all of that. And so those 14% don't do that. They don't show up and they don't do that so we know that that's not a very good patient to pursue and all the other is we have a the 76% of the people to decide to start treatment if they come in the office and go through the consultation so we know that we're really efficient and we have good compliance if we get people in the office. My treatment coordinators are excellent. My staff is excellent. So I think it's going to be hard for people to really get the personality of your practice in a virtual console. I’ve seen some talk about it and you know those people I don't think you can get 76% you get a few that is decide to start, and it's the shoppers that want to come in and we want the kind of person that's just going to say I'm going to start because I like being here. One of the things I heard the first week in dental school, the dean of the dental school came in and he said, okay welcome to to Dentistry. It's the best profession. It's way better than medicine because the patients are better. Yeah, he's really kind of arrogant about it but I'm going to say this now, he said it so I'm saying it but he said most people that go to the dentist regularly are excellent patients. You're going to build your life around about 30% of the population that values what you're doing. He says there's a 70% out there that was just come for emergencies, but you want to build your life around those 30%. So, I think really that's who orthodontist really get to come to our practices is that 30% that that is discriminating and understands that the orthodontist provides better service than the general dentist. So, I think we're pursuing that 30% and those people respond to the kind of care you give how you take care of their kids. I've had so many patients start and say, ‘my daughter my son just love coming in. They like meeting you and I feel really comfortable in the office.’ And those are your best advocates are out there talking about how great you are.
Richie Guerzon: So it sounds like you have a really great office culture and team. Can you tell us a little bit? How did you create that what are your secrets? You’ve been doing it awhile so you should have a down.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: One thing is a I think it helps to be honest
everything you do and I am pretty honest. If I mess up on something, I usually confess that and say hey I shouldn’t have done it that way. I think that helps, and I treat everybody the same. I'm a person that likes people and so I see good in everybody. So there are people that don't and there's doctors that don't, they have a hard time with that and if you're that kind of doctor that just doesn't enjoy being around people make sure you get a team that enjoys being around people because they can be that personality for you. If you don't have it because some guys just don't have this. I think it's important that you have a team that's like that.
Richie Guerzon: So if you are not like that you can still have a practice. You just have to know that’s your weakness and work on it.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Right.
Richie Guerzon: So if you had to do it all over again, what would you change? What do you think? What choices would you make differently you think?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: In my 40 years, one thing I did which was probably see this is 20 years ago. So the first 20 years first few years, I had a practice, a really busy practice and it kind of started to level off. So I thought ‘oh, I need to have a satellite one and start building satellite office’ and I moved into there and then I have one of my mentors who is a general dentist in Dallas and he challenged me and said ‘So why do you need two offices how far apart are they’ and they were around five miles apart. He says ‘do you have anybody that comes from out of town for your services?’ I said, ‘well, actually I have this this guy that flies a UPS plain that lives in Coral Gables and he comes up for his appointment’. And he said, ‘so I think people drive across town. I don't think you need two offices. That was really helpful for me. I closed that second office and it made me more profitable add and people still travel, you know, a couple hundred miles away to come into my office. So I think that's been helpful. So I would say what I would change is I'm not so sure I would have a two office environment. I also tried to get a partner a few times and that didn't ever work out. It was kind of a waste of time. I don't know that I do that at this point in my career. The more young orthodontist just wants the old character to be out. So I think that's the trend is to just sell your practice and get up when you're ready. So, I'm not pursuing that idea of a partner race. And then I also you know when I first started my practice because I was in the Dental Facial Clinic, I spent a lot of time with adult patients that needed surgeries because I got a lot of those referred to me and a lot of dentists referred to me and for that reason they knew that I was a good orthodontist, but I did not get as many teenagers at that time and I didn't aggressively pursue them and I wish I would have them because there's nothing better than young patients. I think if I remember this correctly Neil Kravitz has said near is better than far, girls are better than boys and young is better than old. That truth really works great for orthodontists.
Richie Guerzon: Do you have an opinion about just sharing office space with the dentist?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: I had a classmate in dental school that started a pediatric dental practice after I started mine and he said can I just work out of your office two days a week? Well the two days I wasn't using it and he was going to work the day I was teaching and then on a Saturday and I said sure that we fine and that brought me no new patients. It was just a hassle. You know you can make enough money in Orthodontics and have your own space. I think you should just keep it and not have to worry with that. You know, I've done some real estate development and rental houses and duplexes and they're just a distraction and that's good advice right there. So just stay focused and overall keep control of your own house, you know. I think it's really important to continue with education. I think you needed two kinds of it. Education one is a little bit about business, but you can get that a lot of places but I think you really need to always pursue being a better orthodontist to try to do your treatments better keep up with whatever the new things are and there's about every 10 years there is something new, that's a little bit different.
Richie Guerzon: What in the last 40 years or so, do you think was the best invention, the biggest Innovation that really changed the practice for you?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Oh besides Wild Smiles, I think you know it's one thing that's been fits with our culture right now is when I started practice a patient would call in for an appointment they come in and say yeah, I think you need braces and then it might cost something like this and then but you need to come in to take records and so we take Impressions and we pour a plaster and we have these miles and we have a consultation and show them and then we have a consultation and schedule that so they'd be in the office for four times, three times before they get anything. Now we see patients and we want to close them and that first day they come in so we get the records we talk to them and we have a good experience for them. So that part is totally different and way better because that's where our culture is. I do think the people need to be taken care of personally in that time. You need to be a good people person, or your treatment coordinator and also a good salesperson.
Richie Guerzon: It's even more important you have less time with the person and push them through to make that decision.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: And I think you know certainly aligner therapy has changed a lot. You know, when it first came out, I thought this is really clever and I thought what was really clever about it was that a non- orthodontist thought of it. You know, it was a former patient that knew when he jammed on his retainers teeth got straight again. So, he thought ‘well, I'll run this as a project’. He was a resident as a graduate student at Stanford. So a venture capital project was put together and then he got it funded and then I went crazy. And those first aligners were not very good record of what we do today.
Richie Guerzon: What are your thoughts about a Phase 1 Invisalign?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: I have only one patient in that and that was a difficult treatment plan. It was difficult to get Invisalign to want to do it the way I wanted to do it and so because I use Invisalign and but this is a friend of mines daughter and usually the parent is the one telling you that they don't want braces for their kid so the dad really directed that. She has a small lower jaw. She needs a jaw to grow and so I'd recommend it hurts that we should put some braces on and move the upper teeth forward to do that. And he didn't want to do that. So we get Invisalign it was a twenty aligner. She had to work before you got enough overjet to start doing the class to advancement. She's getting tired of the appliances. Now. I did get them to give it to her after 12 are resubmitted after we've done 10. And so then they did let me do it then but it's a difficult treatment plan and I just think it's better off if you start off with a phase one fixed approach and then you have these high maintenance characters that are your family or friends and are the worst ones.
Richie Guerzon: If someone's a resident out there and they want to get started, do you think they should start their own practice or work for someone? What would your advice be for that person?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, I think you should start your own practice if that's what you want to do. I think that you need to be cognizant of the cost and because I've owned some office buildings and other stuff. Yeah, I can tell you a lot of landlords are more flexible with their tenant improvement dollars than you might think so I'd ask them for a lot or ask for a rent reduction. If you're going to spend it all then I would think you just need to think about how you're spending your money. You probably don't need everything right away. You can have some mobile units that take care of some stuff for you. There was an orthodontist that when I started practice only had an air in tank. It didn't have a compressor just air in tanks that he replaced every other month as they wore out and he worked for 40 years doing that. There are ways to save some money. And I think that's the hardest thing is if you get started and you have a huge amount of debt and have a lot of rent payments and then you don't feel like you can get over that. That's scary for a lot of young orthodontist to have that expense. So, I still don't have any wallpaper in my office my first office. I didn't put any carpet down I had I polished the concrete floors, which is really extremely modern in the early 80s. Absolutely. I didn't put a ceiling in you know, I sprayed the ceiling it’s sprayed black and spotlights and stuff like that. So it was a really cool office, but I just say keep your expenses down and I think you can do it.
Richie Guerzon: That's great advice, you know just take the leap and do it.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Yeah, and then if you're not in the office, you're not seeing patients and you can go to the mall go to the mall and start talking to people and hand your card out and just said, ‘hey, I'm new in town’ this is what I'm doing just some good old-fashioned networking. I remember sitting at a Neiman Marcus coffee shop and restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and I was sitting next to this lady and she was talking to me she worked for this plastic surgeon and she just handed me her card and she said, ‘you know, I know you don't need plastic surgery right now, but if you ever think you want to do something with your eyes or you know a little facelift or something like that, here's my card. You might need it or you might have a friend that need it’ just a great way she presented it that you know, I tried to do that since then, you can always do that.
Richie Guerzon: So, where do you think and besides networking and kind of working with doctors get more referrals? What other kind of marketing you think someone who's established or new should pursue?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, I think you know right now the rage is social media stuff. So and mothers are on Facebook and Instagram, patients are on Instagram. I've been doing quite a bit of Tik-Tok, a joke of the day every day on Tik-Tok and patients kind of think that's cool, but I just got started with that so I can't wait till next week to start asking them to get on that and do it. Even though I am embarrassed myself looking at some of the stuff that's put on Tik-Tok, I keep mine pretty nice. But so I don't know how that goes. But I think you have to be cognizant of what's going on socially and make sure you're part of that and I think social media right now is where it's at and, you know also helps if you are married and have kids and your wife or husband starts talking about what’s going on and you're an orthodontist that works.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah, it's really feeding That Word of Mouth for sure. I agree with that. So, you're saying Wild Smiles in regards to phase 1. Why is it so perfect for Phase 1.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, it's the university the Ohio State University did a study they were going to figure out what to patients think is an aesthetic appliance and so they at the last minute they threw in the Wild Smiles and found out that kids between the ages of 7 to 10 , 70% of a them pick Wild Smiles or some variation of Wild Smiles Yeah, if you moved up page tool 12, it's 40% the ones that are into the clear kind of appliances. They're usually 16 or older though.
[Those kind of patients care about that but the younger ones want people to know they have braces on and so the young patients. It's really a good thing that use them. It may be fun for them. And then they can get all that worked out of it. They can either do it again if they want to and I've had that you know, they all right. I want, you know Hearts this time. I flowers last time that I've had that happen and it's amazing adults pick them. I had a village woman that worked.
says ng to have braces. I think I want those diamonds. He says I want to talk about it when I go in and see my customer. Yeah, just never know. I had a patient she is one of these people to go to Disney World or Disneyland every month. And so she was 50 years old and she had hearts and stars and flowers on every other tooth and just and she had fancy.
Clothes on and stuff. So there's just some adults it'll do anything. So and we're going to have some Disney stuff in the next couple months of the Wild Smile. So that would be fun.
Richie Guerzon: Yeah a little bit of an announcement about that partnership, that's very exciting. We submit is any branding. Well the it's not easy to get Mickey on your side. Yeah. Absolutely. I've been I've been watching some stuff on Netflix about Disney and it's just incredible.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: No.
Richie Guerzon: So, over these 40 years of practice. What is it kind of the big takeaways was the advice you'd like to give everyone out there.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well, you know, I think just for this whole 40 days, I realized it took me about 10 days to adjust and not doing anything what's going on in wondering just kind of wondering and then another 10 days to relax. So, it took me almost three weeks to just get like totally relaxed and figured out. Okay, this is the routine I'm going through and then then I started. I've been monitoring all the numbers and stuff in my office and thinking about what's really going on. And so now then the last few days I've been thinking about how are we going to make this work in a practice? So I just feel like when a young person comes in my office, I'm going to say ‘Hey, you know, we can do these things and Phase 1 if you want to do it we can wait till Phase 2, but I think our full treatment’ but sometimes people come in and they want to get started and I discourage them from starting mostly because of the North Carolina Proffit studies, but I really those patients that have forced me to do it kind of asked me to do it. I realized that they actually ended up getting results. I think everything just works out nicer because I wish I could say I was a perfect orthodontist, but not every result is exactly perfect. And if I have two chances it’s probably better than if I just I have one.
Richie Guerzon: Luke wants to know what is the ideal clinical application for WildSmiles.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Well I think that the ideal clinical thing is when a patient wants it the in the most patients that are young wanted more because that’s what the numbers show but they work on any kind of patient and I think it's nice to accommodate the patient when they come in because they're often very fearful. I remember I had an assistant that worked for me and she wasn't a real person and she was German she liked everything all done exactly the same. He didn't really like wild Smiles because she couldn't get it set up before the kid walked in the door. You’d have to ask the patient what they wanted to put on but what you get is it generated some conversation with the patient so that they were in the room, you know, sometimes the kids just sitting there and they get their lip stretches on and do all this stuff and they really don't know what happened but this actually generates conversation and the other thing I think it's really been great for me to because if a kid doesn’t pick them then I know that kid is pretty much an introvert and doesn't really want to talk that much or they might have something else that's more interesting they like they might be a gamer or something like that. So, it gets me to think about them differently and then ask them some questions so my interaction with them kind of improved with Wild Smile. So, I just think anybody that you want to have a really good relationship with let them pick what kind of appliances they want. I know when I started Wild Smiles, I had less people pick clear braces than they did before. It dropped about 10% and nobody likes clear braces because they break, they’re hard to get off and they don't really look that good. Orthodontist don’t like them that much they don't slide as well the wires slide through them.
Richie Guerzon: So yeah, it's really empowering that patient it’s really great. If someone wants to learn more about WildSmiles, what should they do? What is the best way to get it?
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Oh, well, they should just go to WildSmilesBraces.com and give us a call and we also run an ad on the back of the AJODO so we are easy to find in print.
Richie Guerzon: Someone wants to know if you have a favorite quote you'd like to leave us with.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Oh, that's funny. I do quotes every day and I forget but you know, I think one thing that's when I heard it. I realize it's everywhere in some form. But I guess Winston Churchill was at the Saint Louis University doing a graduation in the early 50s after they kicked him out office in England they didn’t want him after the war. If you've ever been to St. Louis in the summertime, it's impossibly hot. And so this is all pre air conditioning. So, you know, it gone a long time he gets up to the podium and he says “never never never never give up” and then he sat down It was the perfect presentation for him. But I think that's it. If you have a dream or something you want to do never give up, if you think you want to start your own practice just go ahead and do it. I always tell people when I've given talks about Wild Smiles, you know, I didn't really give up because nobody wanted to make them for me. So I started doing it myself but I didn't give up and it's proved to be a good thing that people actually liked my idea and I would say just don't give up. Don't lose that dream you have.
Richie Guerzon: You have awesome, great advice. Well, Clarke, thank you so much for your time.
Dr. Clarke Stevens: Thanks. Nice talking to you.
Richie Guerzon: Take it easy.