Dr. Keith B. Wong
Hello. I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide an overview of my education, philosophy, and experience as an orthodontist, as well as a brief glimpse into my life outside of the practice.
I have often been asked how one “ends up” as an orthodontist; occasionally by someone who is interested in the field, but most often by those who would have never considered orthodontics as a profession. In my case, the decision to become an orthodontist was made at the age of sixteen upon the realization that any future career would be in a field that involved children. I considered following in my mother’s footsteps, pursuing teaching as a profession, but orthodontics had special appeal: I had always loved working with small mechanical models and kits and had a natural artistic propensity. I was also aware that, of my high school peers, the children of orthodontists seemed to enjoy a happy and balanced home life. These factors fueled a determination to attend dental school and pursue post-doctorate studies in orthodontics.
The first step was graduation from the Honors College of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. University of Michigan dental school immediately followed. Just prior to receiving the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, I learned that I had been accepted into the Master’s degree program in orthodontics at Saint Louis University’s Medical Center. The SLU orthodontic program was known nationally for excellence in clinical education and for its then chairman, Lysle E. Johnston, Jr., a leader in orthodontic education and research. “Dr. J” was academically rigorous and demanding, yet truly inspiring and a great friend. I remain grateful to him and continue to hold him as an inspiration to my work.
Since graduation from SLU, I have had the opportunity to successfully treat over three thousand patients and have found that my interest in orthodontics has continued to grow. New technologies, including advanced imaging, advancements in wire composition and bonding procedures, and Invisalign have made my profession even more rewarding. I truly enjoy both the diagnostic process; the piecing together of the puzzle, you might say, and the treatment process; seeing the treatment plan come to life and change a self-conscious smile into a brilliant and healthy one. But most importantly, I enjoy working with patients, young or old, and helping them to achieve the results that they desire.
The question was posed by a professor in my orthodontic program, “What makes an excellent orthodontist?” My first thoughts, and likely those of my fellow residents, were of mechanics and achieving ideal results. The professor waited, allowing it to dawn on us that this was not the only criteria. He pointed out that, yes, an excellent orthodontist must master his or her craft, but he or she must also take care of patients, providing a positive environment and experience; that the excellent orthodontist must consider all aspects of the “practice” as important, and this means the establishment of quality relationships. Without quality relationships, which require good communication, the best mechanics in the business will not result in a satisfied patient. This principle has guided my career and drives my choice of team members and the intention of the practice to be a place of service, where each of us strives to serve in his or her respective role in the most effective and positive manner possible. My goals for the practice, then, are multifaceted; excellent orthodontic results created in an excellent environment of willing and friendly people.
After all these years, the decision made at sixteen has proven to be a profoundly good one. In fact, the opportunity to provide orthodontic care has taught me one of the most important lessons—work can be an expression of the general intention of one’s life rather than simply an activity or a means to a certain lifestyle. For me, that general intention is to be of service to others.
Outside of orthodontic practice, my interests are many. Mary, my partner of twenty years, and I spend our leisure time enjoying our dog Chico, performances of classical music, walks in the woods of Vashon, meditation and contemplation, and when we can arrange it, bridge nights with our friends; though, admittedly, we’re not serious bridge players! We currently divide our time between Vashon and Seattle; a balance that allows us to enjoy the best of the city and the country.
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Keith B. Wong, DDS, MS