Chamber Chat: Kaplan Orthodontics - Creating Smiles, Building Relationships

Chamber Chat: Kaplan Orthodontics - Creating Smiles, Building Relationships

By Paula Shiver, Vice President of Engagement, Perimeter Chamber

As a longtime resident of Dunwoody, I pay close attention to businesses that go beyond serving their customers to actively contribute to the community. One such business that has consistently stood out is Kaplan Orthodontics. Dr. Kaplan and his team not only excel in providing orthodontic care but also play a significant role in supporting the local community. Dr. Kaplan is a proud member of the Perimeter Chamber, and it was my honor to have the privilege of engaging with Dr. Kaplan to delve into the background and passions that drive this community leader. 

I encourage you to invest a few minutes in getting acquainted with Dr. Kaplan, his team, and their core values.


Professional Journey:

Q: Can you share the story behind the establishment of Kaplan Orthodontics and your journey in the field of orthodontics?

Dr. Kaplan: I do not come from a long line of dental professionals; my dad is a CPA, and my grandfather was a toy store owner. My interest in the field came from my childhood dentist, who suggested to me during college that dentistry would be a great career and then while in dental school pointed me in the direction of orthodontics. You get to help people by creating beautiful smiles, who would not want to be an orthodontist?! After my orthodontic residency, my wife Leanne and I decided to relocate from Memphis, TN to Atlanta. I took a job as an associate for two years in an orthodontic practice in Marietta. I learned a lot from that practice but when it was time to start my own, I knew Dunwoody was the right place for us. We had family in the area and looked forward to being a part of the Dunwoody Jewish community. I joined the practice of Drs. David and James Goodchild in 2005 as they prepared to retire in 2006, after an impactful 35 years of creating smiles. They were wonderful mentors and I saw in them what I also wanted to give to my patients – not just a beautiful smile but an authentic relationship. Throughout my 20-year career, patient experience has always led my decisions – using the most aesthetic and comfortable treatment options (Invisalign), using the best equipment for records and diagnosis (3D dental cone beam cat scan and iTero scanner), and having the most efficient treatment times (Dental Monitoring). My team and I work hard on creating gorgeous smiles but also a positive culture in our office. We want our patients to enjoy coming in for a visit and feel as though they are part of our family.


Setting Kaplan Orthodontics Apart:

Q: What sets Kaplan Orthodontics apart in terms of approach and patient care within the orthodontic industry?

Dr. Kaplan: We are relationship and community driven. The best part of my day is seeing my patients and catching up with them. Yes, we use the latest in 3-D printing, intraoral dental scanning instead of goopy alginate impressions, as well as dental cone-beam radiographs to achieve the most comprehensive study in oral hard tissue but that is all second to understanding what each patient needs. We create a customized treatment plan for each patient.


Staying Updated in Orthodontics:

Q: How do you and your team stay updated on the latest advancements and technologies in orthodontics?

Dr. Kaplan: We have continuing education quarterly and develop systems to deliver patient care that is at the forefront of the profession. We also evaluate new technology and assess whether there is value using it to treat our patients.


Rewards of Transforming Smiles:

Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of your work, particularly when it comes to transforming smiles and impacting the lives of your patients?


Dr. Kaplan: The most rewarding phrase I hear is, “I can finally smile, and I never wanted to before because of my teeth.” A person’s smile affects their self-confidence. This is true for our kids and teens, but I am hearing it more and more from adults who have lived with their smile for 40+ years. To have a part in changing someone's life by giving them a smile they are proud to show off is the best part of my job.


Community Engagement:


Q: In what ways is Kaplan Orthodontics involved in the local community, and why do you believe community engagement is important for a business like yours?


Dr. Kaplan: I believe local businesses have a responsibility to help strengthen the local community by giving back to the schools, neighborhoods, religious organizations, and community events. We sponsor many community organizations via our time or financially to be a part of the Dunwoody community's development. Seeing patient families outside of the office is also a great way to continue building authentic relationships. If you see us at a booth at Light Up Dunwoody or Lemonade Days, we’d love for you to stop by and say hi!


Advice for Orthodontic Treatment:


Q: What advice do you have for individuals considering orthodontic treatment, and what should they look for when choosing an orthodontic provider?

Dr. Kaplan: People seeking orthodontic treatment for themselves, or a family member should look for a provider that: 1. Makes you feel welcome 2. Listens to what you want and develops a treatment plan that achieves that goal 3. Has a friendly and compassionate team 4. Uses the latest technology for both communication and treatment 5. Has a clean and visually appealing office 6. Is conveniently located for their commute 7. Has hours that are convenient for them 8. Maintains a positive reputation in the community and gives back to the community.


Success Stories:


Q: Can you share a success story or memorable experience with a patient that illustrates the positive impact of orthodontic treatment?

Dr. Kaplan: I had a patient family who lived an hour away from the office come to see me because the mother heard I could treat her son without jaw surgery. He presented with very difficult case - underbite (think bulldog), openbite (no overlap of your front teeth so that you can push your tongue between your front teeth while your back teeth touch) and impacted maxillary canines (teeth stuck in the bone). He was only given the option of jaw surgery and so had never completed treatment. From his mother I learned, he never smiled, he never dated, and he was severely introverted. She cried when I presented a non-surgical option and my entire team celebrated when that option came to fruition and was successful. After treatment his entire personality changed. He smiled, he got a girlfriend, and his social life exploded. To be a part of changing his life is an experience I will never forget.


Evolution of Orthodontics:


Q: How has the field of orthodontics evolved since you began your practice, and what trends do you foresee in the future?

Dr. Kaplan: The technological advances I have seen in my 20 years are incredible. Moving from goopy alginate impressions that were not comfortable for patients to quick and easy but extremely accurate 3-D intraoral scanners and 3-D printers. Computers are not only used instead of antiquated paper patient charts but also to place braces, bend arch wires, and design Invisalign aligners. In the future, I see more treatment options using comfortable, oral hygiene friendly aligners. We will probably never see metal braces fully replaced by aligners, but even now more patients are opting for aligner treatment and with the research and development by companies like Invisalign, almost all orthodontic concerns can be corrected with aligners.


Personal Insights:


Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in orthodontics, and how has your personal journey shaped your approach to patient care?

Dr. Kaplan: When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. I was an excellent math and science student and thought this would be a great career path. My first winter break home from college I went to my dentist. He was our family dentist, and I always had a great time at the dentist. He was funny and I always looked forward to seeing him and doing the Highlights magazine hidden pictures in his reception area. My dentists asked me why I wanted to be an anesthesiologist and after my response he said I should consider dentistry. At the time he said, “dentistry was not heavily influenced by insurance, [I] could be my own boss and have a more balanced lifestyle.” Four years later after my first semester of dental school he recommended me to be an orthodontist because I enjoyed working with teens and middle schoolers. This led me to be an orthodontist and focus on the patient experience and relationship


Q: Can you share a memorable or funny moment from your time working with patients that left a lasting impression on you?

Dr. Kaplan: My predecessors had a patient who hooked a 9V battery up to his braces and that did not turn out well. Shocking, right? Years later that patient, now a father, brings his own son to see me. We reminisce about how that office looked under the previous orthodontists, and he shares that story with me. About a year later his son comes into the office with some damage to his braces and reveals that he did the same thing as his dad. We all got a big laugh over this.


Q: Outside of the office, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy that contribute to your well-being and work-life balance?

Dr. Kaplan: Currently I have a compensated contract with planDisney which is part of Disney Destinations, the travel wing of the Walt Disney Company. I do a lot of writing for them helping Guests plan their Disney vacations. We spend a lot of time at Disney theme parks and on Disney adventures for both the nostalgia and high level of customer service. I also like to travel. I am always planning a next trip because the more cultures I experience the more I understand people and can be a better healthcare provider.


Q: How would you describe the culture at Kaplan Orthodontics, and what efforts do you make to ensure a positive and supportive work environment for your team?

Dr. Kaplan: One of our cultural pillars is ‘bend don’t break”. This means we work to understand and provide everything our team and patients need without compromising our vision and values. We try our best to run a timely schedule, but we understand sometimes life happens. We strive to be positive, compassionate, and work around life's hiccups with flexibility, respect, trust, and appreciation. We have team bonding events, team celebration lunches, and Kaplan Kindness partners (two team members who have a set budget to buy each other birthday, work anniversary, or just because gifts). We work hard to build authentic relationships with our team so we can go through the ups and downs of business together and come out on the other side better than before. I know I work alongside some incredible women and many patients comment that they feel a "great energy" in our office, so I really believe we are doing something right!


Q: Are there any team traditions or events at Kaplan Orthodontics that contribute to a strong sense of camaraderie among the staff?

Dr. Kaplan: At our end of year team celebration, we give out the Kappies. This is a take on the TV show The Office’s The Dundies. They are fun awards to the team members in areas that reflect their achievements and contributions over the last year. We also hand out pins for them to wear on their scrubs or jackets that highlight their achievements. Lastly, we have team bonding events such as horseback riding, river tubing, or even axe-throwing to take us out of the office for some fun team bonding.


Q: Can you share a personal or professional achievement that you are particularly proud of, and how it has influenced your perspective on your work?

Dr. Kaplan: I am most proud of being a husband to my wife of 25 years and father to two amazing sons. Developing a strong bond with my boys through shared experiences and setting our own traditions surpasses any award, status, leadership position, or professional accolade. Helping  them grow and applying those learned skills to my patient experience has made me more adaptable to the changing trends in the profession. Kids teach as much to parents as parents to their children.


Q: Are there any philanthropic or community initiatives that the team at Kaplan Orthodontics is passionate about or actively involved in?

Dr. Kaplan: We give time and money to many community organizations but there is not one specific philanthropic initiative we are actively involved in just yet. This is one of our goals for 2024 and we have been working through some amazing ideas recently. Stay tuned to our social media for more on that in the future!


Q: What do you believe is the most rewarding aspect of working together as a team at Kaplan Orthodontics, both personally and professionally?

Dr. Kaplan: The most rewarding aspect is that we all grow together. Because we spend 9-10 hours with each other daily, we get to know each other very well. We share in all the highs and lows in each other’s lives. I have team members who have been working alongside me for 10 or even close to 20 years! I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them get married and start families and they have seen my boys grow from toddlers into college kids. We all work to earn a living but to be able to be in a profession that brings so much joy to our patients and then get to do that with a team I truly respect and admire is incredible. I am so thankful for each one of them.



In conclusion, Kaplan Orthodontics stands as a beacon of community-driven orthodontic care, not only creating beautiful smiles but fostering genuine connections within Dunwoody. Dr. Kaplan's commitment to patient experience and community engagement sets a commendable standard for businesses aiming to make a positive impact beyond their services.

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