Melissa Shotell, DMD, MS

Positive impact on patients

Dr. Melissa Shotell in her Greece treatment room

What can you tell us about your background? 
I grew up in Southern California, and my parents ran a small family-owned manufacturing business. Since I was a small child, I have always been fascinated with dentistry. I attended a preschool trip to the dentist’s office when I was about 4 years old and made up my mind that I was going to be a dentist.

Positive impact on patients

When did you become a specialist, and why?
As a young teenager, I needed complex orthodontic care — multiple impacted teeth, crowding, overbite — it changed my life. I personally saw the impact orthodontic care can provide. After dental school, I was not sure what direction I wanted to take with my career so I practiced as a general dentist for 4 years. After 4 years in general practice, I felt that orthodontics was my true professional calling, and I returned to Loma Linda University to study orthodontics.

Is your practice limited solely to orthodontics, or do you practice other types of dentistry?
My practice is limited solely to orthodontics, but I do practice with my husband Michael D. Scherer, DMD, MS, a prosthodontist. This gives me an opportunity to treat many patients with interdisciplinary treatment plans.

I have conducted research focused on the remodeling of the temporomandibular joint with the use of functional appliances utilizing cone beam imaging. I also am interested in dental ergonomics and have taught CE events focused on providing clinicians with simple and effective techniques as foundational principles of ergonomics to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Why did you decide to focus on orthodontics?
My own orthodontic treatment was very complex, and this gave me a great interest in the field of orthodontics. Through my own treatment, I saw the tremendous impact that orthodontic care can have on a patient’s life and wanted to pursue an area of dentistry where I could help make these same positive impacts for my patients.

Do your patients come through referrals?
Some of my patients come to me through referrals; however, most of my patients are referred to our practice for interdisciplinary comprehensive dental care.

How long have you been practicing orthodontics, and what systems do you use?
I have been practicing orthodontics for 2 years. I use American Orthodontics for my traditional bracket treatment and 3M TrueDefinition for my digital scans to send to Align for Invisalign treatment. I also have a Vatech CBCT and a Form 2 3D printer by Formlabs.

Our office utilizes the latest, modern technology and intraoral scanning (3M™ True Definition Scanner)
Our office utilizes the latest, modern technology and intraoral scanning (3M™ True Definition Scanner)

What training have you undertaken?
I completed my master’s degree in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics at Loma Linda University. I attend multiple CE courses and training programs throughout the country each year.

Who has inspired you?
I have been most inspired by my grandmother who grew up in an impoverished part of rural Oklahoma. She left the small town she was from at the age of 18 to join the World War II war effort working in a factory to manufacture airplanes. My grandmother always encouraged education since she grew up in an era when most women were not given the opportunity to pursue education. My grandmother was a strong advocate of hard work and education, and she had a tremendous influence on me when I was young to pursue my personal and professional goals.

Dr. Shotell teaching ergonomics at a recent training course
Dr. Shotell teaching ergonomics at a recent training course

What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
I enjoy working with many of our adult patients who have given up hope on their dental health. Working with these patients to achieve their personal goals for their treatment and finding comfort and function are a very rewarding experience.

Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the opportunities I have had to mentor both my patients and my staff. The office has four operatories and a staff of seven team members. I have sent one of my assistants to become an expanded functions assistant. Three of my assistants have become hygienists, and one of my hygienists went to dental school to become a dentist. I also volunteer and take part in Science Night and Dinner With a Scientist for the local elementary school and middle school to encourage
young students to pursue a career in the sciences.

Dr. Shotell and her husband show their interdisciplinary treatment around the country at national meetings
Dr. Shotell and her husband show their interdisciplinary treatment around the country at national meetings

What do you think is unique about your practice?
My practice is unique in that it allows collaboration between my husband and myself to combine our two specialties for the benefit of our patients. By combining our two practices, it allows us to treat very challenging interdisciplinary cases for adolescents and adults.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Ironically, even though our practice is a high-tech dental hub, technology is my biggest challenge! I love traditional ortho-dontic techniques combined with a dusting of the latest, modern equipment. The only problem with modern technology is that it can be temperamental! Thankfully, my husband is a computer nerd.

Traveling is one of our top hobbies
Traveling is one of our top hobbies

What would you have been if you had not become a dentist?
If I wasn’t a dentist, I would have become an attorney. I love the logics and the methodical nature of the law. Reasoning and debate are two skills that I excel in. Maybe I’ll go back to school in retirement and get my JD!

What is the future of orthodontics and dentistry?
The future of orthodontics is definitely embracing technology. New technology utilizing cone beam, optical scanning, and 3D printing is going to be the future of orthodontics. These new technologies will allow us to highly customize individual patient care.

What are your top tips for maintaining a successful specialty practice?
My best advice for maintaining a specialty practice is to maintain highly individualized patient care. Patients are unique individuals, and they want to see how their personal needs are recognized with their treatment.

What advice would you give to a budding orthodontist?
For a budding orthodontist, I would recommend spending a lot of time on practice management. Developing your own brand of orthodontics sends a clear message to patients about the type of doctor you are and the care they will receive. Having good practice management skills will help in every aspect of your daily routine at the office.

What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
I love to cook and travel with my husband. We enjoy spending our free time with our two Shih Tzus, Pumpkin and Flower. Our two dogs are very mischievous and keep us on our toes.

Top 10 favorites

  • Practicing orthodontics
  • Traveling
  • Spending time with my two four-legged children, Pumpkin and Flower
  • Exploring the beautiful landscape of the California Gold Country
  • Visiting with family and friends
  • Cooking
  • Teaching dental continuing education
  • Teaching ergonomics to help dentists and their staff members extend their careers
  • Yoga classes
  • Sleeping in on the weekends!

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