Open Forum in The Villages, Florida

Smiles Redefined through Science and Empathy with Stephanie Steckel

January 26, 2024 Mike Roth & Stephanie Steckel Season 5 Episode 5
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
Smiles Redefined through Science and Empathy with Stephanie Steckel
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Have you ever considered how a passion for art could beautifully align with the precision of science? Stephanie Steckel, a seasoned orthodontist, joins us to share the captivating story of her career switch from general dentistry to a fulfilling life in orthodontics, spanning over two decades. Her heartfelt dedication not only to her practice but also to guiding others through their orthodontic journeys led her to author "Crooked: A Guide to Orthodontic Treatment," a testament to the transformative power of a smile. Throughout our chat, Stephanie uncovers the value of the deep bonds formed between orthodontist and patient, bonds that are nurtured over the course of a treatment period averaging 21 months, and how these relationships are enriched by shared experiences and empathy, much like the lessons she learned from caring for her ailing pet.

Embark on an insightful exploration into the intricacies of adult orthodontics, as Stephanie Steckel lends her expertise on why straightening your smile later in life might be more than just an aesthetic choice. Adult patients, she finds, often stumble upon surprising perks during their treatments, including lifestyle changes leading to weight loss. We tackle the technology behind today's orthodontics, from the personalized crafting of braces to the sleek appeal of Invisalign, while also addressing those ever-present concerns about pain, expense, and the duration of treatment. By the end of our conversation, it's clear that the benefits of orthodontic care extend well beyond a perfect smile, contributing to improved health and a surge in self-assuredness, as evidenced by adults who've shared their transformative experiences with us. If you've been contemplating a journey from 'Crooked to Straight,' Stephanie's insights may just tip the scales.

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Emiley:

Welcome to the Open Forum in the Villages Florida podcast. In this show we talk to leaders in the community, leaders of clubs and interesting folks who live here in The Villages to give perspectives of what is happening here in the Villages Florida. We hope to add a new episode most Fridays at 9am. We are a listener supported podcast. You can become a supporter for as little as $3 per month where you can choose to pay more. To become a supporter, go to Open inT heV illagesFloridacom illagesFlorida. com and click on support in the black box. There will be shoutouts for supporters in episodes. As a supporter you will get a direct email link to Mike. In season 5, we are making significant improvements and changes on an ongoing basis. First is our new and better logo upgrades and recording equipment to allow easy access for remote guests. It is a continuing effort. Increase in the use of AI in the creation of each episode. In fact, all the show's announcers are now all AI voices, including me, emily. If you have a book that you would like to turn into an audio book, let us know via email to mike at rothvoicecom. Hope you enjoy today's show.

Mike Roth:

This is Mike Roth on Open Forum in the Villages, florida. I'm here today with Stephanie Steckel. Today, we're going to be talking about your teeth, or orthodontics. Stephanie, why don't you tell our audience a little bit about your background? How did you get into orthodontic work?

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, thanks for having me today, mike. I really loved doing orthodontic treatment. I did that for 23 years Before I became an orthodontist. I grew up like everybody else. I grew up in the time of Charlie's Angels and Chips in the Los Angeles area, and looking good was important and having a nice smile was also very important. When I went to school I really enjoyed studying two areas. I liked art and I liked science and I thought dentistry. Going to dental school would help me combine the two interests. So I decided to go to dental school. I went to a wonderful dental school. I went to UCLA. When I finished there I came out to Philadelphia and got to become a general dentist for about five years and I enjoyed doing general dentistry. I was lucky to work with a group of dentists who also did other specialties. So for five years I worked with other specialists into general dentistry but I really started to gravitate towards orthodontics. It was fun and it was meaningful. So then I decided I'm going to go back to school. So I went back to school in orthodontics then in Georgia and I enjoyed the medical college in Georgia and all I learned. The faculty was wonderful. And then I set up my practice in Delaware and practiced for 23 years as an orthodontist.

Mike Roth:

Was it a solo practice in orthodontics?

Stephanis Steckel:

I was a solo doc.

Mike Roth:

yes, that's good. I understand you also wrote a book. Tell our audience a little bit about your book.

Stephanis Steckel:

I really enjoyed writing the book. It was a new creative process for me. My book is called Crooked to Strait. It's a guidebook for patients, parents, kids, anybody that wants to get orthodontic treatment. I'm your guide to tell you about what to do before, what to do during and what to do after. I'm not treating you, but I am your guide. I'm your in the book, whether ebook or paperback, you can look me up and find information throughout the process of your treatment. I want you to succeed and I want you to have a good experience with the staff and the doctors. So my passion for writing the book was there, because I truly think that a good doctor-patient relationship is the basis for successful outcomes.

Mike Roth:

Mm-hmm, and was that the reason that you wrote the book?

Stephanis Steckel:

The reason I wrote the book. I was inspired by my dog. I have a wonderful dog. He's a Kelpie, it's like a farm dog and about a year ago he had this really tough skin condition that the local vets we couldn't get resolution with. So my husband and I started looking up online. What can we do to help his skin heal and what we couldn't find there get resolution either. Last year I was in Gainesville visiting a rotary club and I met a veterinarian that teaches at University of Florida, Gainesville and he recommended we take a look there. We found out that there is a dermatology clinic at the school, so we made an appointment for our dog. After the appointment they sent us eight pages to fill in.

Mike Roth:

Eight pages.

Stephanis Steckel:

Of documentation of history on our dog, mm-hmm. We filled it in, brought it to the appointment and I was so impressed with them because you had veterinary students, you had first year residents and you had attending doctors. They all all three of them read the information Mm-hmm and they asked a lot of questions. They asked us about his history and they wanted to confirm they understood what we had done and what is going on.

Warren:

Sure.

Stephanis Steckel:

Then they did the testing Okay. And they ordered tests, we got a diagnosis. They explained what we needed to do. Of course, in a sense I'm the patient along with my dog, because I have to render the care for him after we leave. But it was very successful and I truly believe it was successful because we had a really good doctor-patient relationship. And now my dog wherever we go walking around the villages, he gets compliments on his coat. He has a beautiful coat, his skin is healed beautifully.

Mike Roth:

Mm-hmm, and because of the experience with your dog, you decided to write a book for people who needed orthodontic work.

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, I really got to know my patients. As an orthodontist I really loved spending time with them. I'd see them on average or treated 21 months national average for orthodontic treatment, mm-hmm. So I see them a lot. They we become I wouldn't say family, but we become really trusted friends for each other. So I want them to trust me. I want and I want them, of course, to like me that would be great too, but I certainly want them to trust me that I'm going to take good care of them. So I really believe in that relationship and it just hit home with my dog's experience. So that's where the genesis of the book came from.

Mike Roth:

So when someone was in your practice for orthodontic work, how often did you see them?

Stephanis Steckel:

When I first started in 1995, the typical adjustment frequency was every four weeks.

Warren:

Mm-hmm.

Stephanis Steckel:

And then we started to include or change the wires that I used for the adjustments, and these wires had a longer activation period. So we actually stretched out their appointments to six weeks and then over time we went to eight weeks. Ok, activation period means how active the wire is once it's attached to your braces.

Mike Roth:

Before it loses its tension.

Stephanis Steckel:

Right.

Mike Roth:

OK, sure Did you have any interesting experiences while you were writing your book.

Stephanis Steckel:

The experience of writing the book was very creative and very different than any other writing I did before. It was fun, but it was hard.

Warren:

Mm-hmm.

Stephanis Steckel:

And I found that my experience writing the book was really one of the four reasons people write books. Usually they write a book from a shared experience, mm-hmm. Or they may write a book because, hey, I've got a business and I want to promote my business, so I'll write a book about it, or they have a passion for a certain topic and they want to put it in a book. My reasons for writing the book was really a shared experience, but not really it was. I was a dentist, then I was an orthodontic patient, then I was an orthodontist, so I felt like I had seen both sides of the chair.

Mike Roth:

So you went through orthodontic work as an adult.

Stephanis Steckel:

Yes.

Mike Roth:

Okay, I did too, and for me it was a different kind of experience.

Stephanis Steckel:

It's very different as an adult compared to kids.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, I always was a little bit angry at my dad for not putting me through orthothanothera treatment. When he put my younger brother through they said, well, you didn't need it. And for me? my dentist said to me the pain you're having, your lower teeth is not because they need a root canal, not because you have a cavity, but because they're pushing on the teeth, the pushing on each other. Go see an orthodontist and it was kind of hard to accept but I went to see the orthodontist and got the braces and worked out very well.

Stephanis Steckel:

Yeah, there's usually some sort of orthodontics too. You may or may not remember that.

Mike Roth:

It was actually a wonderful weight loss treatment.

Stephanis Steckel:

Really.

Mike Roth:

For me. I probably lost 20 pounds in orthodontic treatment because I didn't want to brush my teeth after any time I ate anything. So I stopped eating completely in between meal, which is a habit that stuck with me. And the amount of time it took to brush your teeth meant that I didn't have time to do other things. So I was encouraged not to eat as frequently and better food, so I guess it worked out pretty well.

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, you had cleaner teeth for longer periods, it sounds like, and that's good.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, and that's been a continuing habit. But if we want to lose a couple of pounds, I'll definitely recommend braces.

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, I will tell you two things about adults, and I'm glad that you'd recommend braces. I've had multiple adults say that, that they would lose weight. I expect to lose weight doing this, because my teeth are going to hurt and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, so I'm glad it worked out for you in your case. The second thing I learned is that adults when I designed my office, I was told by the office designer you want to have a room just for adults, because adults don't want to be with the kids, and what's funny is that room ended up being empty for adults. So adults want to be with the kids. They don't want to be by themselves in a room away from kids. The kids are fun, the kids want to interact, and so it was fun to see how that changed. The expectation was this, but it was fun to treat all the different ages together.

Mike Roth:

Now, I didn't even notice the age of the other patients at the office. It did make a difference to me, Can you tell us? Listen, there's a little bit about the specialty of orthodontics.

Stephanis Steckel:

Sure, orthodontics is a treatment that over two million people in the United States choose every year to get done probably closer to three million and if you're going to do that, I strongly recommend that you consider that there's a time commitment and you were just discussing an oral hygiene commitment that goes along with it. That's greater than what you're experiencing now. So over two million people decide to do this adults, mostly kids, but maybe about 30% adults and when you go in to get treatment it's a change to your lifestyle, but you'll get to see changes in your teeth. Probably, give it about a month. You'll start to see your teeth starting to look better. So it's worth some of the discomfort you'll go through. And then there is some discomfort. You just have to expect that. In the profession there is definitely a trend towards mass customization of orthodontic treatment, meaning the braces are customized for that particular patient or the aligners the clear aligners are customized and there's also a trend towards as much delegation as possible that's legally allowed for the staff. So you see the doctor and then you also see the staff while you're in treatment.

Mike Roth:

So is that in visalign braces that you were talking about?

Stephanis Steckel:

Yes, that's one of the brands that are out there, yeah.

Mike Roth:

And that's better than the traditional stuff which was wired on.

Stephanis Steckel:

I'm going to give an engineer or economist answer on that. Which is it depends.

Mike Roth:

Okay, tell us both.

Stephanis Steckel:

If you're somebody who doesn't mind having the fixed braces on your teeth and of course you don't know until you know I think the braces may serve you just as well as aligners. And now, if your orthodontist gives you a choice, then it makes it a little tricky for you to choose. You may want to choose and work with what your orthodontist recommends for your particular treatment. I find that there's pros and cons with each you described. Having high, you know, hygiene, keeping them very clean takes time and that's true. If you take the aligners out, you can brush and floss normally, but you also have to clean the aligners. Make sure you put them back in. If you lose time during the day, forget to put them back in. It could delay your treatment.

Mike Roth:

The cost of treatment will take a longer.

Stephanis Steckel:

The treatment time doesn't really differ between the two.

Mike Roth:

Really.

Stephanis Steckel:

In my experience, I think they both work about the schedule that you can forecast them to work.

Mike Roth:

Which one is more expensive?

Stephanis Steckel:

Over time, what I've learned is that you make the fee the same for either one, either modality.

Warren:

Mm-hmm.

Stephanis Steckel:

There's actually you save time on the setup for one modality and the other. You have a greater setup, but then it's less expensive up front. So they kind of evens out.

Mike Roth:

That's the market at work In round numbers. What is a cost of orthodontic work cost today?

Stephanis Steckel:

Round numbers, depending on how long you're going to be treated and where you live in the country. I'd say an estimate anywhere between four and $7,000 is a good estimate. If you have another specialist that you see during the treatment, it might add some cost.

Mike Roth:

And let's take a quick break here and listen to a Alzheimer's tip from Dr Craig Curtis. Dr Curtis, can you tell our listeners something they can do to improve the nourishment that?

Dr. Craig Curtis:

they give to their brains. Absolutely, our brain only weighs about 2% of our overall body weight, yet it receives about 20% of our blood supply. So it's very important that we essentially nourish our blood vessels, as we nourish our blood vessels will essentially then nourish our brain. So lowering the amounts of sugars, red meat that are red meats that's high in cholesterol, can go a long way to nourishing our brain by making our blood vessels more compliant With over 20 years of experience studying brain health.

Warren:

Dr Curtis's goal is to educate the village's community on how to live a longer, healthier life. To learn more, visit his website craigcurtismdcom, or call 352-500-5252 to attend a free seminar here in the villages we have a lot of people over way over 60 years of age.

Mike Roth:

Does it pay for someone over 60 years of age to get braces?

Stephanis Steckel:

If that person's looking in the mirror and isn't happy with their smile, braces may be a nice option for that person. It's conservative, you're not, you're not, you know. Let's say they have crooked teeth they don't like, or they don't like, the color of their teeth. The color of their teeth issue. Braces probably aren't an option for somebody like that. Maybe getting some whitening or veneers might be a better option. I do recommend whoever you see for consultation, ask them what your options are, even if it's an orthodontist. I mean, I was a general dentist for a while. So somebody said, am I a veneering candidate? I would say, yeah, you probably can get veneers done instead of ortho. You could do that. So I'd say that's somebody over 60, if you're looking in the mirror and you say, hey, I don't like what I see, what is it you don't like? Write that down specifically and talk to your dentist If you're thinking about orthodontics. Your dentist is somebody who knows you. Your hygienist knows you. Talk to them about the experience and what would be involved. But what I recommend is you're really specific about what you want to change, because you just want straight teeth or a perfect smile, that's fine, but you're going to be better prepared if you're a little more specific on what you want to change.

Mike Roth:

And this is a question I asked before you went on the air. Well, someone who has orthodontic work to straighten out their teeth have a lower risk of needing implants?

Stephanis Steckel:

People who go through orthodontic treatment. Whether you're a child or an adult, you're undoubtedly spending more time taking care of your teeth. You're improving, removing the plaque, you're taking care of your gums and if you're doing that, you're maintaining the health status of your teeth very nicely. So tissue health, gum health, is important for maintaining your existing teeth, and if you've had orthodontics, you're probably a little better at taking care of your teeth. I don't know if there's a strong correlation between that and needing implants later. I'd say that really hasn't been studied.

Mike Roth:

It's for me to definitively answer that. What's the most common questions that people ask? Would ask you, as an orthodontist, at the first exam.

Stephanis Steckel:

A 12-year-old in the chair will ask me different questions and an adult in the chair understands. The 12-year-old will ask me is this going to hurt? And I will tell them Well, if your teeth are going to straighten, expect them to be sore some days not every day, because you're going to have them on two years. Your teeth aren't going to hurt every day, but they'll hurt a little after each adjustment and then it gets better as the days go on and then you don't feel them anymore. An adult, my experience they're going to feel the discomfort a little longer than a 12-year-old. Another common question is how much does it cost? And I think we answered that there. And then how long will it take? It really depends is. The third question is how long will it take? And it really depends on what you're getting corrected. I've had patients in treatment for three years. I've had patients in treatment for six months. Really depends on what we're correcting.

Mike Roth:

What would be a six-month treatment?

Stephanis Steckel:

Most typical six-month treatment is somebody that had orthodontics before and they had some shifting that they didn't wear their retainers. So one tooth moved out, another one twisted back and they want to get them back in alignment. So it's not all the teeth are being treated.

Mike Roth:

Okay, so specific cases Is there anything unique about the practice of orthodontic dentistry?

Stephanis Steckel:

Compared to general dentistry, orthodontics, in terms of the doctor-patient relationship, it's a much closer relationship for a shorter period of time. You know, for example, patients that have a dentist and see their hygienist, let's say, every four to six months.

Mike Roth:

Orthodontists you're going to see. I've seen a dentist only once a year.

Stephanis Steckel:

There you go when you see an orthodontist. You'd see me every six weeks and I'd be interacting with you. I'd be checking your hygiene. I'd be checking how you're wearing your rubber bands. We talk about what you're doing at school. How's the new job working out? Oh, you're in that sport now. So we develop a really close relationship for a short, let's say a two-year period of time. Maybe that's why a lot of people who apply to dental school and I've sat on interview boards people almost always say I want to be a dentist because I loved my orthodontist. Maybe that strong relationship developed there and it never really ended. They really viewed that very favorably.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, it makes a big difference If you only see the real dentist once a year when there's a look on an X-rays, but an orthodontist you'd see them every time you had an appointment. Is there anything else that you think you need to share with our listeners about orthodontist or dentistry?

Stephanis Steckel:

I think orthodontics has a wonderful history of helping people develop, strengthen their personal appearance and feel better about themselves. Most adults who actually an AEO survey showed most adults 75% that they surveyed felt better in their personal relationships and even professional work after having orthodontic treatment. And 92% of those same people said, yes, I would recommend treatment for others who haven't had it done yet. I think that's a strong statement about the personal benefits you can have from treatment.

Mike Roth:

And if our listeners wanted to actually read your book, how would they do that?

Stephanis Steckel:

My book is available on Amazon and you can log on and get either a e-book copy of it or a paperback copy. And the name that they should look for on Amazon is it's called Crooked to Straight and it's your guidebook to your best smile, and it's also available. You can have a website crooked to straight bookcom. You can order it from there. You can find out more about me and the book and a few highlights and some testimonials about the book there, if you go to my website.

Mike Roth:

And when did the book come out?

Stephanis Steckel:

August 29th last year.

Mike Roth:

So new enough for you to remember the exact date Exactly. Is it fair to ask you how many copies approximately have been sold so far?

Stephanis Steckel:

I don't really know how many have been sold so far. How could that be? I don't.

Mike Roth:

You don't keep track of that.

Stephanis Steckel:

I don't.

Mike Roth:

Okay, so the book that you have written should be in every orthodontist's office in the country and they should be giving it to every prospective new patient.

Stephanis Steckel:

I agree with you on that. Now there are orthodontists who are kind of persnickety. I'll include myself in it. I have a certain way of approaching things. I understand I may not want someone else's perspective, even though I feel it's a very acceptable perspective and very helpful. I will say also that school nurses who have children in school, who are interested hygienists who work for General Dennis the one you see once a year those are the same people who will get questions about how do I straighten my teeth, how do I fix this, and that book can be a great resource to answer questions. Maybe save them a little time.

Mike Roth:

Great, thank you Great. Let me throw one other question at you, a marketing question about your book. How many free copies of your book have you given out?

Stephanis Steckel:

Free copies of my book. This is a guess.

Mike Roth:

Okay.

Stephanis Steckel:

So I'm going to say about 12.

Mike Roth:

I'll just share an experience that my daughter's had. She wrote a book about psychologically taking care of yourself.

Stephanis Steckel:

What's it called?

Mike Roth:

So the name of my daughter's book is Show Up For Yourself. As you can see, it's kind of a heavyweight book with about 300 pages.

Stephanis Steckel:

Yes.

Mike Roth:

And she followed some good advice. Every week or every other week, she would have a free giveaway of the Kindle copy of the book.

Stephanis Steckel:

Oh, okay.

Mike Roth:

And what happened was, as the Kindle copies were being taken for free, the number of paid copies on paper went up, and it continues to be a bestselling book in her category.

Stephanis Steckel:

Terrific.

Mike Roth:

Okay.

Stephanis Steckel:

So thank you for that tip.

Mike Roth:

For our other authors out there. Yes, If you have a Kindle copy of your book, you should be giving away some copies of it or giving away at a reduced price. You can have a sale on the Kindle version for a week. And but then she did promote the book. She took individual pages of the book and she would she's still doing this. She randomly opened the page, read it and turned it into a Facebook post, which was a very nice marketing idea.

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, I did do something like that for people who I knew Thank you for letting me take a look and I shared the first chapter with so they can give me some feedback and on their review, they can provide a little more informed review there. And that worked out very well. I got some nice reviews from them.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, one of the ways that we grow the podcast is every podcast I create a soundbite which is a 30 to 60 second piece of the podcast that I put out there and post on social media so people can find it. That's why the podcast this podcast is now heard in 18 different countries which is a very that's impressive.

Stephanis Steckel:

That's quite a breach.

Mike Roth:

Well, you never know.

Stephanis Steckel:

Right right.

Mike Roth:

The search engines in China find you even if you're in English. Stephanie, I want to thank you for being on the show. Anything else you want to add for our listeners?

Stephanis Steckel:

Well, I want to. I thank you, mike, for having me on the show and I wish everyone well and in whatever their choices are, in improving their smile. Having a healthy smile is very beneficial to your overall health.

Mike Roth:

Great, want to start a club in The Villages is the healthy smile club.

Stephanis Steckel:

Sounds good.

Mike Roth:

Okay. Thank you Stephanie, thank you Mike.

Emiley:

Remember our next episode will be released next Friday at 9 am. Should you want to become a major supporter of the show or have questions, please contact us at mikeatrothvoice. com. This is a shout out for supporters Tweet Coleman, Dan Kappellan, Ed Williams and major supporter Dr Craig Curtis at K2 in The Villages. We will be hearing more from Dr Curtis with short Alzheimer's tips each week. If you know someone who should be on the show, contact us at mikeatrothvoice. com. We thank everyone for listening to the show. The content of the show is copyrighted by Rothvoice 2024, all rights reserved.

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