Chris Sierk has fond memories of his younger years, not too long ago, when he was living in his native state of Iowa, where his father is a well-known orthodontist.
The oldest of three brothers, Sierk shadowed his father and followed in his orthodontic footsteps, graduating first from the prestigious University of Iowa dental school. And then in 2000, he earned a certificate for specialized training from the research-driven Oregon Health Sciences University.
'I spent a lot of time (while living at home) with my father,' Sierk said, 'learning about the profession and planning my career.'
While living in West Linn, Sierk maintained a practice in Tigard, but began to miss the small-town feel of working in the town where he lives, where his children attend school.
That was his strongest memory of growing up in Iowa.
Obviously, dentistry is in the Sierk genes, since both of his brothers also have similar careers: Two generations of the same family, and all four men are dentists.
Sierk has just expanded his practice in Oregon, and currently serves patients three days a week in Tigard and two in West Linn. Sierk is flexible, he says, alternating the specific days in each office. He says he expects also to adjust to a changing list of patients, adding days or hours to the West Linn office as necessary.
The first patients to frequent his new West Linn office already had been traveling to his Tigard office, and now have a much shorter drive.
He expects to add patients as soon as local residents learn that his practice is open and as soon as local dentists begin referring their patients for his specialty - orthodontics.
His main work is with children, he says, because during the ages 7-10 the teeth are growing and moving and are likely to need assistance with some type of brace or retainer.
'Oftentimes,' he said, 'if no help is needed at age 7-10, the 12-13-year-olds will come in for full braces. But we also offer braces for adults.'
For adults, he offers the widely advertised Invisalign clear braces.
While some of his work for adults might be considered cosmetic, nearly all of the work for children is covered by insurance companies.
'Most of the work we do for children,' he said, 'is getting their bite in the proper position for the long-term.'
Orthodontics, he said, has long-term benefits, helping prevent or treat adults' excessive wear or facial joint pain.
Seeing younger children is a more preventive measure, according to Sierk, who says about 20 percent of all children will need some orthodontic procedure to avoid major problems in the future.
An orthodontist can make more dramatic changes if the work is done early, Sierk said, at a time when growth is occurring.
Sierk's new office is completely digital, with no paper records and all photographs stored on a server.
He also uses digital radiography for X-rays, significantly reducing the amount of radiation exposure.
'Our state-of-the-art X-ray unit limits patient radiation,' he said, 'while providing more detailed diagnostic films.'
To please the children who frequent his practice, Sierk went a little further with the digital theme. He installed PLAYSTATION®3 in the reception area and has a continuous children's video running on a two-way mirror over the sinks where children brush their teeth prior to their visit with Sierk.
'We have a number of kid-friendly features,' he said, 'for our younger patients to get excited about.'