HEALTH MATTERS: Balancing braces and better health
DR. PHILLIPS As Orlando-based orthodontist Dr. Lisa Yurkiewicz puts it, orthodontics is not just about straight teeth and beautiful smiles — it’s about overall health and a more balanced face, too.
Yurkiewicz’s philosophy in her practice is “straight talk about crooked teeth.” She doesn’t only focus on aesthetics and having a straight, beautiful smile— she also focuses on the cause behind the issue, on growth and development and on improved airway and breathing function.
THE PATH TO ORTHODONTICS
Yurkiewicz, who has been practicing orthodontics since 1995, has always been interested in the health profession. However, she wasn’t always interested in teeth — in fact, she wanted to be a pediatrician.
“I always loved kids, (but) my dad is a physician, and I wanted to be a little bit of a rebel, so I wanted to do something a little different,” she said.
Although born and raised in Jamaica, she has been a Florida Gator since age 10. It was only fitting that when she moved to Florida, she participated in a summer program at the University of Florida while in high school. When program leaders asked the students what their career interests were, though, Yurkiewicz didn’t want to say her first interest was medicine; instead, she said it was dentistry.
“They put me in a lab in the dental school, and I met dental students that were nice and seemed really happy. I thought, ‘maybe I could do this,’” she said. “So I ended up going to dental school and not even applying to medical school.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell science before heading to dental school. After dental school, though, Yurkiewicz knew she wasn’t done learning. After pondering what to do next, she settled on orthodontics — something that she had only dabbled in while in dental school.
“I have a curiosity about orthodontics and malocclusion and how it’s so prominent in 75% of children,” she said. “I belong in clinical care — direct patient care. I just want to work with people.”
THE GAME PLAN
Yurkiewicz’s initial consultations are free, and with each diagnosis she doesn’t just look at the teeth — she also assesses the cranium, jaw joints, surrounding muscles, tongue and oral posture, swallowing pattern and occlusion beforehand.
It’s about fixing the underlying problems, she said, and not just covering up the crooked teeth and gaps, and to do this she works with other practitioners ranging from dentists to osteopaths and orofacial myologists.
Following a full assessment, Yurkiewicz then alerts her patients to what she sees as issues and offers them options to fix the problem. The end goal is giving her patients more balanced faces, stable results, a functional occlusion — or bite — and an overall beautiful smile. Stable results also minimize the need for long-term retention.
“We can do braces, Invisalign, removable retainers or maybe no braces. That first consultation can be very revealing and telling for the patient to understand what they have and why they have it,” she said. “I like for patients to be informed and educated. I feel like I have an ethical responsibility to be honest with the patients and give them what’s best. The patient should be aptly and justly treated and know their options.”
Yurkiewicz has two main offices, one in Dr. Phillips and one in Clermont, and splits her time between them. However, she occasionally travels to her dentist colleagues’ offices in Lake Mary and Winter Springs to treat patients in those areas.
“The people I’ve met along the way (in my career) have made me better. I feel like I have something more to contribute; you really engage in the world and in life,” she said. “There will be some significant change in orthodontics in the next five to 10 years, and I hope to be a part of it in a positive and favorable way.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at firstname.lastname@example.org.