Picture a comfortable place where kids are having fun playing video games and watching their favorite cartoons. Colorful balloons and T-shirts abound, and the smell of freshly baked cookies permeates the air. Imagine the sounds of laughter and the sights of young faces glowing with smiles.
Most folks would expect such a setting in an arcade, a family fun center, a sleepover or perhaps at a birthday party. However, few people would ever envision such an environment in an orthodontics office. That is, unless they have visited Smile Construction Orthodontics.
Dr. Clay Fulks and his staff have been taking the fear and dread out of orthodontics procedures since 2012. With offices located in Hendersonville, Gallatin and White House, the Smile Construction Orthodontics team is dedicated to helping each of their patients gain healthy, beautiful smiles without soreness and discomfort. Gone are the days of uncomfortable fittings, unsightly wires and years of painful adjustments.
“In our practice, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact on our patients’ lives,” Dr. Fulks says. “For example, we can help give kids new smiles that can change their outlook toward everything. After we treat them, they have the confidence to smile and show off their teeth without any social stigma.”
Smile Construction Orthodontics is a busy practice, with caseloads reaching 80 to 90 patients per day during the summertime. Although Dr. Fulks treats all ages, the vast majority of his patients are children.
“When it comes to orthodontics, the younger the patient, the better. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing patients at 7 years old,” Dr. Fulks says. “It’s all about doing the right thing at the right time.”
Along with the medical reasons, Dr. Fulks loves to treat kids for another, more personal reason.
“I love taking care of young people,” he says. “The kids come in happy, smelling like the pool, and they love telling me about their family vacations. Their enthusiasm and great attitudes make me and my whole team happy.”
Along with growing his practice, Dr. Fulks is strongly committed to his family. He and his wife, Jenny, have three children: Jackson, Clayton and Olivia.
“Family is a big part of my life,” Dr. Fulks says. “My wife was my high school sweetheart. She is my rock who helps me with every tough decision.”
Dr. Fulks' family dedication is so strong that his desire for a healthy work-life balance helped steer his career toward dentistry, specializing in orthodontics.
“I started out in college as a pre-med major. However, along the way I received some great counsel from my family dentist. He told me about his brother, a medical doctor, who never seemed to have time for his family,” Dr. Fulks recalls. “Between the two of them, my dentist was always the one who was able to take his kids to sports practices and games. He had more time for his family. That is what sold me—the ability to have a profession that I enjoyed but would not keep me away from doing things with my family.”
Dr. Fulks’ family orientation also extends to his staff and his patients at Smile Construction Orthodontics.
“We treat our patients like they are family,” he says. “Our patients love our welcoming environment. They know we are committed to the highest standards of care and comfort and that we will take care of them like they are our own.
“Our motto is 'patients first,'” he says. “We begin every workday with a morning meeting where we share, say a prayer and end by saying ‘patients first’ together as a team.”
As part of patient comfort and care, Smile Construction Orthodontics employs the latest in advanced technology and orthodontics techniques. 3D scanners are used to image teeth without the need for uncomfortable impression molds. The resulting scans are sent to a 3D printer, which builds molds from which the braces will be designed. The finished molds are used by Dr. Fulks to model and construct the soft, mouthguard-like braces needed for each patient.
For patients considering orthodontics, Dr. Fulks has some sage advice.
“What you want to choose in a doctor or a dentist is judgment—the judgment to determine which treatment is appropriate,” he says. “Some patients require more extensive services than others, and it takes good judgment to determine the proper course of treatment.”