At the popular Winston-Salem orthodontics practice, Salem Smiles, it’s a team effort by caring, trusted professionals led by Dr. Sarah C. Shoaf, DDS, MEd, MS, Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. We caught up with Dr. Shoaf to catch a glimpse of her journey to this point, and to see what makes Salem Smiles so special.
FW: What led to your interest in dentistry and then orthodontics?
Dr. Shoaf: When I was in PA school I did a rotation with children affected by congenital anomalies, and I was fascinated by the cleft kids and children with craniofacial issues. While in dental school, I was already determined to study orthodontics so I could be on a cleft palate-craniofacial team to help this group of children.
FW: When you returned to Winston-Salem in 1992 to practice orthodontics, what was it like coming back to your hometown?
Dr. Shoaf: I was so lucky! When I was looking for a position as a craniofacial orthodontist, the N.C. Center for Cleft and Craniofacial Deformities team associated with Wake Forest Baptist was looking for an orthodontist. Going back to my old stomping grounds was enticing, plus I am a diehard Wake Forest sports fan, so the thought of returning to Winston-Salem and being able to go to games was appealing!
FW: How has your varied background given you better insight with your patients?
Dr. Shoaf: The combination of medicine (BA-Physician Assistant), education (MEd), genetics (MS) and dentistry (DDS) has led to an interesting practice. My medical background not only gives me the confidence to treat disabled patients, but it also introduced me to Dental Sleep Medicine. I now provide oral sleep appliances for referred patients with sleep apnea. I’m the Forensic Odontologist for Northwest N.C. and provide services to the Medical Examiners to identify bodies and testimony for bite mark cases. I have taught classes for EMTs, Highway Patrol officers, nurses, and hygienists on dental forensics.
FW: What are some of the best new technological advances in orthodontics?
Dr. Shoaf: I love the oral scanners and 3-D printers. Not only do they allow our assistants more time with patients, but they also decrease dust in the office, eliminate physical storage of models (they are all stored in the cloud as computer files, which can be recalled for printing), and let us avoid putting “goo” in patient’s mouths to gag them! We use the iTero Element scanner to make the “impression” and then send the information electronically to our EnvisionTec 3-D printer to make plastic models. We like this system when we take braces off, as it allows us to not only make the retainers over the plastic models, but we give those models to the patients to keep. If they lose or break a retainer and bring the unbroken plastic models back, we have a substantial discount (almost 70% off!) for replacement retainers.
FW: As a member of the first East Coast training class on Invisalign, what was most exciting about this new innovation?
Dr. Shoaf: When Invisalign first started, it was geared towards adults, and only for very minor tooth movement. With its constant updates, Invisalign has become a viable solution to almost all types of malocclusions, for growing children as well as adults. We think Invisalign is a “kinder, gentler” way to move teeth, and it eliminates the hassles of foods you cannot eat, as well as the “tinsel teeth” look, which can be important to dancers, thespians, and musicians. Movement is in graduated increments, so we only need to see patients once every two to three months. We have college students who see us before and after each semester to continue treatment without coming back for monthly adjustments.
FW: What would be the one phrase you hope former patients use to describe Salem Smiles?
Dr. Shoaf: I love my smile – I love my orthodontist! With our advanced scanners and treatments, we are able to take on patients with disabilities who would not be candidates for regular braces due to choking hazards. We are a warm, friendly office, and mindful of patients’ time. We keep very close to appointment schedules.
You can reach Salem Smiles, located at 1063 W. Northwest Blvd in Winston-Salem (just off Reynolda Road), at 336-725-5757, and online at salemsmilesortho.com. Practice hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed for lunch from noon – 1 p.m.) and the office opens from 8 a.m. – noon on Fridays for billing and scheduling.