By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
BANGOR, Maine — A patient’s smile brightens the day for Dr. Brad Woodford (MS, DDS-MS), an Arizona orthodontist who recently moved to Bangor with his wife, Laura, and purchased the orthodontic practice owned by the retiring Dr. Lee Souweine and his wife, Ruth.
Located at 72A Broadway and separated from John Bapst Memorial High School only by Penobscot Street, Bangor Braces specializes in treating patients with various orthodontic issues. Besides traditional treatment options such as braces, Woodford — known to his patients as “Dr. Brad” — offers surgical solutions to specific orthodontic conditions.
A patient losing a tooth faces several choices:
• Live with the gap between the surviving teeth;
• Replace the missing tooth with a crown, implant, or bridge;
• Fill the gap by undergoing orthodontic surgery known as “accelerated orthodontics.”
Woodford explained that accelerated orthodontics combines specific surgical procedures to actually move surviving teeth to fill the gap left by a missing tooth. The procedures, he said, help speed up bone metabolism, which allows teeth to move more quickly through the bone.
“This allows decreased treatment time for orthodontic treatment,” he said.
Woodford typically works with an oral surgeon or a periodontist when performing surgery. Although relatively unknown in Maine, accelerated orthodontics “is a very common procedure in orthodontics across the country,” he said.
Among other advantages of accelerated orthodontics, a patient avoids receiving a bridge, crown, or implant and does not need to wear braces for a long period of time. Pain is minimal. “There are no nerve endings in bone,” Woodford explained.
He also specializes in dental facial orthopedics, particularly in the development and correction of the malocclusions that affect the whole face. Malocclusion involves the misalignment of teeth where the jaws meet. “In layman’s terms, it’s a bad bite,” Woodford said.
During an initial meeting with a patient, Woodford conducts a clinical exam and takes a panorex x-ray, “a view of the entire lower and upper teeth,” he said. A patient’s first consultation is free, he indicated.
Woodford fits metal and ceramic braces; he is also certified to fit Invisalign braces.
During his years in practice, Woodford has become a specialist in treating sleep apnea, a condition of where someone is not breathing for periods of time at night, up to a minute or longer. “You can have multiple episodes throughout a given hour,” he said.
Sleep apnea can lead to other medical issues. Some minor cardiac conditions can be caused by the condition, according to Woodford.
Sleep apnea has “become a huge area of treatment,” he said. A patient may be prescribed a CPAP machine, “a common form of treatment,” Woodford noted, but “about 85 percent of people prescribed a CPAP will give it up within three months.”
Fortunately, “an oral appliance is an alternative form of treatment,” he said.
Woodford consults with patients diagnosed with sleep apnea by their physicians. He works with a patient’s doctor to provide the patient with an oral appliance that helps open the airway, he said.
A sleep apnea patient will likely need to be treated for life, Woodford commented.
Orthodontic problems often develop in childhood, so “we like to see kids at 7 years of age” to “determine the growth, developmentally, of the teeth and jaws,” Woodford said. “If there are problems, limited types of treatment can often help” and “eliminate greater problems later in life.”
Bangor Braces offers patients a relaxed waiting-room atmosphere, where people can pour a free cup of hot coffee or cider. “We want our patients to relax when they’re here,” Woodford said.
Aware that many children consider a visit to the dentist or orthodontist to be something they don’t look forward to, Woodford works with his young patients to help them relax. “When they’re here, we want them to have fun,” he said.
Woodford said he plans to introduce new colors in some examination rooms by changing the decor to be bright and fun. He chats with children and shows them a trick that few people can do: Woodford actually can clap with one hand, a talent that he capably demonstrated during a recent interview.
“Can you do that?” he asked, a smile lighting his face. “Most people can’t, and kids love it.”
Woodford will perform some pro bono orthodontics for children who need such treatment, but their families cannot afford it. He volunteered his skills for similar treatment for many years in Arizona.
For children and adults alike, the outcome of orthodontic treatment can be absolutely positive, Woodford said. “A smile is a significant increase in self-esteem. I see people from [age] 6 to 80 or older,” he said. “There’s no age limit for orthodontic treatment.”
Woodford has been involved with child- and youth-related programs for a long time. Before moving to Bangor, he was the president of an Arizona youth social service agency that worked with children from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.
“Behavioral health for children is a big passion for me,” Woodford said. “It’s always an area I’m interested in helping with.”
Woodford graduated from dental school at Ohio State University and did his orthodontic residency there. “I was actually born at Ohio State,” he said. “My father was a senior in the dental school there. He was also an orthodontist.”
For information about Dr. Brad and Bangor Braces, call 207-945-6324, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to bangorbraces.com.