Dr. Jeffrey Sessions

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This orthodontist’s mission is exceptional service and exceptional experience

What can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in Oregon, attended Oregon State University for my undergrad education and Oregon Health and Science University in Portland for my dental training. During my junior year, I decided that I wanted to be an orthodontist.

While fulfilling my orthodontic requirement at OHSU, I had an exceptional instructor from the orthodontic department who motivated me toward pursuing orthodontics as a specialty. I very much liked that orthodontic treatment is elective and that patients not only need, but also want our service. I wished to step out of my comfort zone, so I applied to several programs and was accepted into Indiana University’s residency program in Indianapolis where I received my orthodontic certificate and Master’s degree in dentistry. Since this was a 2-year program, I immediately started on the research needed for my Master’s thesis that dealt with changes in the nose and lips relative to extraction and non-extraction therapy. During the summer of 1997, I returned to Oregon, and I started my practice in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

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Why did you decide to focus on orthodontics?

My first order of business when I started practice was not only to learn how to be the best orthodontist I could be, but also to build the very small practice that I bought. My staff and I worked primarily on internal marketing as opposed to external advertising to gain patients. Making our patients’ experiences exceptional and their appointments fun was our initial approach to creating growth. Hiring staff that were not only talented but were beyond friendly to my patients was a must. I believe any orthodontist’s biggest challenge is how to stand out among his/her immediate neighbors or competition. I felt that customer service and creating a positive experience at every visit were my “niche.” I realize that there are many niches that can be utilized, but exceptional service and an exceptional experience were — and continue to be — my mission.

What systems do you use?

After several years in practice, I was inspired and excited by technology. Besides customer service, I felt that I could stand out and improve our patients’ healthcare delivery by being an early adopter of technology. Even though this seems rather insignificant, digital photography for patients was one of the first “new” technologies. I can remember, with a smile, the large and heavy first digital cameras available to orthodontists. The next technology that I thought was here to stay forever was the digital pano. I loved having panos available at each chair with a click of a mouse without having to ask the front office to “pull” a pano from a patient chart in the filing cabinet. Being able to refer to a pano instantly when I needed to talk to a parent about treatment was (and still is) practice changing. The next huge innovation was digital models. In my original location in Lake Oswego (every inch of our 1,600 square-foot office was utilized), I knew that moving into digital models would eliminate the need to store models on-site or in a nearby storage unit. I also knew that designing and moving into a new office soon would not have space devoted or wasted to model storage. As a benefit to patients, I could show them models to answer questions instantly on the chairside computer monitor. My one dilemma with digital models was the need for an impression that had to be shipped where it would be scanned. My answer came at the Washington, D.C., American Association of Orthodontists meeting where iTero® had introduced a fast and viable in-office scanner. This improved the patient experience since records no longer involved an alginate impression during a patient’s first experience in an orthodontic office. At this very same meeting, I also moved into 3D imaging by purchasing an i-CAT® cone beam. I was convinced that 3D would be the standard of care in orthodontics in the next decade. Again, I wished to be an early adoptor so that my patients would benefit immediately. I had always felt that it was unsatisfactory to talk with a patient about an ectopic cuspid without knowing how close it was to neighboring roots and if root resorption was present. I knew that this technology would absolutely allow me to offer my patients exceptional treatment planning.

One of the most recent technologies that makes me excited for the future of orthodontics is the introduction of accelerated tooth movement. The AcceleDent® unit is the most clinically viable method available to our patients. I still can picture one of my Invisalign® patient’s face when he commented about finishing in half the expected treatment time by using his AcceleDent for just 20 minutes each day. He was smiling so big and asked, “Why wouldn’t everyone use this device?” I’ve recently prescribed an AcceleDent unit to one of my teen patients, Madison Root, who became a local celebrity over the last holiday season. Madison was selling mistletoe in downtown Portland to help offset the cost of her braces. Due to Madison’s determined, entrepreneurial spirit, several news organizations and media outlets reported her story. This coverage helped my patient to sell enough mistletoe to pay for her entire treatment! I am very excited to provide AcceleDent to accelerate Madison’s case as she is missing lower bicuspids, and we will be closing a considerable amount of space. I am hoping that more and more of my patients chose to incorporate this into their treatment.

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Professionally, what are you most proud of?

Like many orthodontists, I have helped my profession by serving as an officer and committee member at the county and state levels in addition to the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists. Over the years, straightening my patients’ teeth, correcting their bites, and giving them beautiful smiles have been very rewarding to me and my staff. There is nothing better than seeing a parent’s and/or patient’s smile when they have finished treatment.

What is the future of orthodontics and dentistry?

140717 Sessions 02Looking forward, I think that an orthodontic practice has to stay at the top of its game. In addition to all of the things that you can do to enhance the patient experience within the walls of a practice, patients are researching orthodontic care and our practices via the Internet. Managing a practice website and staying up-to-date on new technology are more important now than ever.

What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?

Just when I think nothing else will change in my profession, I am often pleasantly surprised with things that spark my interest and that will help make our patient experience better. Another nice aspect of our profession is that orthodontics allows me plenty of free time to enjoy my family, to golf, and to travel. These types of activities re-energize me and allow me to bring my “A game” to the office on a daily basis. I think that any person thinking about going into healthcare should consider orthodontics to fulfill their life’s goals and aspirations.

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