Teaneck—There is only one spot in town where you can play PacMan and get your teeth straightened at the same time: Knoll Orthodontics. Dr. Sharon Knoll and Dr. Leah Friedman, who run the practice, pride themselves on their warmth, flexibility, and deep involvement in the community—as well as their ability to keep the kids distracted while waiting to get their braces tightened. The practice was originally established in 1975 and has been creating beautiful smiles ever since.
“That’s the best part, seeing them happy and confident with their smile,” Dr. Knoll said about the job. Dr. Knoll loves her work and has a lot of “best parts.” She loves seeing the children who come into her office grow up as they work through braces and retainers; she loves working with her hands; she loves the “art involved in creating a beautiful smile,” and she loves working in the community she was born and raised in.
Knoll and Friedman each have degrees in dentistry plus several additional years of specialty training in orthodontics—Knoll from New Jersey Dental School and Friedman from Harvard. They both have Master’s Degrees in oral biology and membership in the Omicron Kappa Upsilon, an exclusive national dental honor society. Both have been practicing orthodontics for over 10 years.
Dr. Friedman pursued orthodontics because it combined her love of science and art. “I love the challenge inherent in the field; every case has its own unique set of problems to solve.” There are usually multiple ways to treat each case, Friedman said and “the key is to find the best way to treat each patient,” using the most suitable modalities for each individual.
At the clinical exam, Drs. Knoll and Friedman get to know the patient and the patient’s parents. People often have a lot of “previous notions about what orthodontics should be like,” according to Dr. Knoll, but “old school torture devices like they used to have are gone. Orthodontic appliances are designed to be more comfortable and less stigmatizing than they were in the past.”
Photos, x-rays, and models of the teeth and jaws are taken, and then doctors go over the treatment options and plans. Each patient, including adults who make up 20% of the practice, get individualized treatment plans based on their needs, preferences, and personal habits. Some patients would benefit from Invisalign, while others would be better treated with metal, ceramic, or lingual (behind the teeth) braces. Drs. Knoll and Friedman are skilled and certified in all of these techniques.
Dr. Friedman recommends seeing a child for the first time at around age 7 for an initial consultation. “Not everyone needs early orthodontic treatment, but for the right candidate, this is the ideal age to address crossbites, underbites, other jaw discrepancies, thumb sucking habits, and other issues.”
Most patients, however, will begin full braces when all their permanent teeth have erupted (around age 12). Patients wear their braces for an average of two years and come into the office every six weeks for a checkup.
The office makes things as fun as possible. There’s an open bay with a row of chairs so patients can see their friends while their mouths get worked on; patients can choose fun colors to add to their braces; there are contests with prizes in the office, and there’s the warm and friendly staff outfitted in jean shirts with a multi-colored, braces smile embroidered on.
Knoll treats the patients like her own children and only does for them what she would want someone to do for her own children. For instance, they are very careful to minimize dental radiation, take only medically necessary scans, and do everything possible to increase comfort.
Knoll and Friedman maintain personal relationships with many local dentists, periodontists, and oral surgeons (and treat many of these dentists’ children). They work closely with these colleagues to ensure the best care for their mutual patients. “We don’t work in a vacuum,” Friedman said. “We strongly encourage our patients to continue seeing their general dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and check-ups. Just as important as attaining a beautiful smile is maintaining a healthy mouth.” She also stressed the importance of communicating with a patient’s dentist to be sure everyone is on the same page.
Knoll and Friedman understand the local children and parents as they are part of the community themselves, which means that the office schedule is built around yeshiva calendars to maximize the opportunities for the children to come in.
Knoll Orthodontics is centrally located at 149 W. Englewood Avenue, Teaneck just a few steps away from the West Englewood business district. They have late office hours twice weekly, as well as early morning hours to accommodate before and after school appointments. They also have office hours on select Friday afternoons. For more information on the practice, visit www.knollorthodontics.com.
By Aliza Chasan