Dr. Jerry R. Clark

What can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and after high school attended the University of North Carolina for 8 years, completing my undergraduate work and receiving a BS degree and then obtaining my DDS from the UNC School of Dentistry.

After dental school, I entered the U.S. Navy as a dentist and served a 2-year tour of duty at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

After that, I became an associate in a dental practice in Greensboro, North Carolina, for 2 years practicing general dentistry.

In 1973, I entered orthodontic school at St. Louis University, and in 1975, received my Masters in Orthodontics. In 1975, I returned to Greensboro and opened my own private orthodontic practice, and since then I have been actively practicing orthodontics in Greensboro.

Why did you decide to focus on orthodontics?

While growing up, I was fortunate enough to have my orthodontic treatment performed by Dr. Paul Reid, former chairman of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Reid also served a term as president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Dr. Reid really enjoyed orthodontics, and it showed. I had never seen anyone enjoy his or her profession more than Dr. Reid. While undergoing treatment, we discussed orthodontics as a career, and he strongly encouraged me to consider being an orthodontist.

How long have you been practicing, and what systems do you use?

I began my orthodontic practice in 1975. Over the years, it has been our privilege to create thousands of beautiful smiles. With new techniques and technology, it is always a challenge to keep up and ensure that we are providing the very finest care for all of our patients. Today our practice utilizes virtually all the technical advances at our disposal. We use 3D imaging, aligners, TADs, the fantastic and easy-to-use Picasso Lite soft tissue laser (AMD Lasers), Dentsply GAC’s Sentalloy® and BioForce® heat-activated archwires, and most importantly, we use Dentsply GAC’s In-Ovation® (Dentsply GAC) self-ligating brackets and the Complete Clinical Orthodontics (CCO) system of treatment.

Over the past few years I have been actively involved with Dr. Antonino Secchi and a group of leading orthodontists from all over the world in developing and promoting the Complete Clinical Orthodontics treatment system.  CCO is the intelligent integration of the best concepts provided to us by our predecessors: Tweed, Andrews, Roth, and Damon, to name a few, combined with the most efficient and effective technologies available today. This group is open to every orthodontist interested in improving his or her clinical skills, and we invite all orthodontists to join us at any of our future CCO meetings.

These advances have allowed us to reduce patient discomfort, decrease treatment time, decrease chair time, and decrease the number of patient visits necessary to complete treatment while at the same time improving the consistency and quality of our treatment results.

What training have you undertaken?

Every year, I attend the AAO meeting which affords me the opportunity to continually monitor what is new in our profession. I also usually attend at least four or five courses that will allow me to obtain a more in-depth knowledge of topics of interest to me and my patients. I regularly attend state, local, and alumni meetings, and have attended the meetings of the Damon Forum, the Gorman Institute, and took the Post-Graduate Week Residency Program at the University of Washington. For over 20 years, I have subscribed to the great series, Practical Reviews in Orthodontics, which monthly gives me a critical review of the literature and the important topics involving the orthodontic practitioner. 

Who inspired you?

My faith inspires me. I have a profound belief that we have been placed here to help others and leave this place better for those who come after us. Our practice is committed to providing the very finest care for each and every patient we have the privilege to treat.  My family inspires me also to be the best that I can be at everything I do. My parents insisted that I get the best education possible. When I was a teen, my orthodontic treatment was performed by Dr. Paul Reid, former chairman of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Pennsylvania and former president of the AAO. His love for orthodontics was contagious, and I thought as a teen that orthodontics would be a great profession. In orthodontic school at St. Louis University, Dr. Leo Mastorakos inspired me to carefully examine every detail in my approach to treatment and to accept nothing but the finest treatment results.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?

What a privilege it is to daily work with our patients to provide them with beautiful smiles and a dental occlusion that will last them a lifetime. Every day, patients are excited about getting their braces on, and other patients are excited about getting their braces off. During their treatment, we have the opportunity to change our patients’ lives, not only with the way their teeth and smiles look, but also to be involved in their lives hopefully always in a positive fashion. Our patients become our friends.

Professionally, what are you the most proud of?

The close relationship our staff has with each other and all of our patients. We strive to make every patient encounter a positive one. We have developed a huge family of patients and friends who truly make every day fun and exciting. I am proud to be board certified and to have the ability to provide outstanding orthodontic care for every patient who enters our practice.

I am also very proud of the company I started over 20 years ago to provide practice valuation and transition services to the orthodontic profession.  Today, Bentson Clark & Copple is regarded as the premier orthodontic practice transition company exclusively serving the orthodontic profession.

What do you think is unique about your practice?

We love providing Ritz Carlton-type service for each and every individual who enters our practice. We do everything we can to make every patient comfortable and feel well cared for in our office. We are not only providing orthodontic care; we are providing care for the entire individual. We try to not just be the patient’s orthodontist; we want to create a comfortable atmosphere of fun and excitement centered on the patient’s treatment.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Time management has probably been my biggest challenge. Having four children and a wonderful wife, I find it is sometimes very difficult balancing family time along with the demands of managing and running a busy orthodontic practice, in addition to being actively involved in the community and with my church. 

What would you have become if you had not become a dentist?

A major league baseball player, but I couldn’t hit the curve ball. Or a professional golfer, but I couldn’t break par. Initially, I wanted to be an architect; I really enjoyed mechanical drawing and design work. When I entered college, I enrolled as a business major and thought about working in the public relations part of the business world. However, after three semesters in the business school, I decided that dentistry was the career that I wanted to pursue.

What is the future of orthodontics and dentistry?

I see a bright future for our profession. The orthodontic supply companies continuously come out with newer and better technology and appliances to make the treatment of our patients quicker, easier, and more comfortable for them. I feel privileged to be a Key Opinion Leader for Dentsply GAC and having the opportunity to work closely with their Research and Development team in developing the next generation of products to improve the quality of orthodontic care for our patients. I see significant changes in bracket design, treatment techniques, archwires, and aligners; and most of all, I believe the new digital technology along with 3D imaging will help to revolutionize the way we provide orthodontic care. However, the key to great orthodontic care will continue to be the proper diagnosis and treatment planning of cases.

What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?

Continuous continuing education is necessary, not only in the technical field of orthodontics, but also with the practice management side of the practice. “Raving Fans” customer service (from the book of the same name by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles) is essential to maintaining a successful practice. Keeping up with referral patterns is critical, and today the proper use of “social media” is essential in maintaining an active practice. A strong marketing program within the practice is important to maintaining contact with referring doctors and our patients. It is very important to be involved in civic activities in order to give back to the community. Twenty-eight years ago I founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Carolina, and to date the organization has granted over 5,000 wishes to children under the age of 18 suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

What advice would you give to budding orthodontists?

Be a constant student and keep up with all the changes that are occurring in our profession. Work hard, and provide the finest care for your patients — but most of all, have fun. Orthodontics is a wonderful profession that is highly gratifying and fulfilling. Enjoy your patients and staff, and take pride in the quality of care you provide. 

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

I really enjoy reading and learning. My favorite hobby is golf, which allows me to spend hours outside and enjoy nature. My wife, Regina, and I love to travel and experience the wonderful adventures that travel provides. I am also a big sports fan and enjoy almost every sport both as a fan in the stands and as a spectator watching on television.

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