If it’s true that you find the very best food at the places where chefs eat, then it’s hard to imagine a better endorsement of the Brace Place than they have treated well over 500 dentists and their families. In essence, the New Jersey based practice has become “the orthodontists to the dentists”. It’s the sort of designation that can’t just be claimed, it can only be earned.
Over the past 30 years, the Brace Place has achieved a number of awards and accolades. Yet the partners of Brace Place know that for all the success they’ve earned, it all starts with relationships. It’s the relationships they have with each other, the relationships they have with the patients who entrust them with their smiles and the relationship they’ve developed with the community where they all live and practice.
Built on Existing Relationships
Brace Place maintains three offices in the greater New Jersey area, Freehold, Manalapan and Hightstown. Each office has over 200 collective years of experience in orthodontics. While each office is run independently, the three partners run Brace Place as a single practice. That means they go out of their way to make sure all three offices are mostly interchangeable for their patients, without sacrificing the originality of their own personalities.
Each of the three partners arrived at orthodontics from different means. Dr. George Sargiss’ father was a medical doctor who instilled in him the many virtues that come with treating people. Dr. Josh Epstein is a second generation orthodontist, (his father Marty has been with Brace Place for many years). Dr. Brad Elkin had been interested in orthodontics since he’d gotten braces as an older teen.
Sargiss was the first of the current partners to join the practice in 1991. He was joined ten years later by Dr. Joshua Epstein in 2001, who then recruited his former college roommate, Dr. Brad Elkin, to join him at Brace Place in 2002. The team was completed when Dr. Martin Epstein, father of Josh and renowned international lecturer, brought his expertise from New York in 2004.
“There was a lot of activity in a three to four year span,” says Dr. Sargiss. “But we knew we weren’t just hiring employees or recruiting the most talented individuals we could find. We were also building a team that we wanted to remain in place for a long time. I can’t imagine we could have done any better.”
It’s not just the current partners who have long-standing relationships with one another.
“We also have individuals who have been here for 30 years,” proudly says Dr. Epstein. “We have parents who come in and see the same dental assistants that they had when they got treatment done. That contributes to a genuine sense of continuity that people appreciate.”
Having a team in place that really knows and trusts one another allows the partners of Brace Place to run the kind of practice they want to be a part of. This includes providing extended business hours to meet the needs of today’s always on-the-run parents.
Building New Relationships
Building a patient base means having everything that patients are looking for and Brace Place offers a full-spectrum of orthodontic options. The numbers are proprietary, but they are the top Invisalign® provider in New Jersey, and in the top 1% in the country. They are also one of the largest independent practices on the East Coast when it comes to traditional orthodontics with metal and ceramic braces (for patients who prefer a more esthetic option).
From the beginning the partners knew they wanted to do everything they could to create the best environment for their patients. It’s not a formal edict, but they make sure they explore any new technology that might help their patients. Staying at the forefront of the technological curve has served them well.
As one of the first practices in the area to embrace digital imaging, they were able to eliminate the dreaded impression process that causes many patients to gag. In the process, they discovered that digital has many benefits beyond making their patients more comfortable.
“The digital technology at our disposal is simply amazing,” says Dr. Elkin. “When you begin a case digitally, you’re so far ahead of the game. We can do things virtually before we begin treatment and fine tune the plan to a degree that was unfathomable just a few years ago. We can move the arches, move the teeth, whatever we need to do virtually. It allows us to deliver a higher standard of care and avoid problems down the road.”
Even the brackets they use to straighten teeth can be considered high tech. The In-Ovation brackets they use are self-ligating, meaning there are no elastic ties required. Each individual bracket has a miniature sliding clip that can be used to secure the wire to the bracket. This allows for the wire to be placed faster while making it easier for the patient to care for their braces.
While the partners love their high-tech toys, they recognize that the technology is just a part of the puzzle when it comes to crafting a great overall experience.
“We don’t have to do much advertising. When we give the patient a great experience, they’ll recommend friends and family. You get a reputation that starts to build on itself, eventually it gains a momentum of its own,” says Elkin.
In addition to eliminating their need to advertise, their reputation also gives them the ability to try out products that haven’t yet been released to the rest of the orthodontic community. Companies come to them soliciting feedback for new products and product ideas. It means they’re shaping the products that they use to shape smiles.
Finally, the partners all know that every relationship is built on respect. Nowhere is that respect more evident than their commitment to keeping wait times for busy parents as close to zero as possible. The current wait time for patients is under three and a half minutes.
“We staff our practice based on our busiest time rather than an average. This means we might be slightly overstaffed sometimes. But we know that to the parent who’s running ragged trying to manage their own schedule, our ability to stay on time is invaluable,” says Epstein.
Because they are able to bypass traditional means of marketing to get their name out, Brace Place can focus these resources on community outreach, education and overall oral wellness.
Relationship with the Community
“A lot of our name recognition comes by way of working with the local community. We support and sponsor a lot of local athletic teams, local boy and girl scouts troops, that sort of thing. We also have a program where we provide local kids a custom sports mouthguard at no charge. It’s a piece of equipment that’s on par with what many of the college and professional athletes use,” says Epstein.
Education is another arena in which Brace Place excels. They maintain a relationship with the greater orthodontic community by travelling around the country, and around the world, educating dentists and fellow orthodontists on the latest techniques and technology. They are also active members of the prestigious Schulman Study Group, an education group dedicated to advancing the whole of orthodontics.
Locally they run at least one annual event for the local dental practices where they share some of the knowledge they’ve accumulated over the years. They also run a number of programs helping hygienists stay abreast of the latest developments in orthodontics and elevating the overall level of oral care they provide.
“We do lectures for the local hygiene groups and teach them not just about orthodontics, but about how orthodontic treatment impacts overall oral health. We also educate the school nurses in the area on how to deal with minor orthodontic emergencies. It’s all just a part of giving back,” says Sargiss.
Finally, Brace Place makes sure orthodontics will be in good hands in the coming years. “We encourage local schools to send their dental interns and dental assistants to come take rotations through our practice. That gives them a real flavor for what the day-to-day duties of the orthodontist is like. It gives them the ability to experience everything from the taking of x-rays to remaining OSHA compliant,” says Sargiss.
Relationships Moving Forward
It can sometimes be challenging for three, free-thinking professionals to agree on all the details that go into running a successful orthodontic practice. And the three partners are quite different. Dr. Sargiss likes being with friends and family, Dr. Epstein likes spending time on the golf course when he’s not in the practice or with his family, and Dr. Elkin prefers travelling with his wife and twin sons. But they all share a dedication to achieving the best they can—inside and outside the practice.
“We have a name in the community. We employ a lot of people. We touch a lot of lives. What more can you ask for?”
In the end, all the hard work is paying off. Between the partner’s relationship with one another, each of their relationships with the patients they’ve treated and the collective relationship they’ve nurtured with the local and orthodontic communities, there’s one more designation they’ve earned that’s worth mentioning. Now for the sixth year in a row, the partners of Brace Place have been named Top Dentist by New Jersey Magazine. It’s just one more designation that goes into telling one impressive story.
Thank you Brace Place for being part of the OrthoWorld Detail. Your patients appreciate your experience and excellence in treatment and so do we!
This article first published in 2014 OrthoWorld.