20 Questions: Michael B. Rogers, DDS

By Juliet Farmer

Dr. Michael B. Rogers owns a private orthodontics practice with his colleague Dr. Andrews in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from Emory University School of Dentistry before serving as a Captain and general dentist in the U.S. Army Dental Corps. Later, he returned to the Medical College of Georgia to specialize in orthodontics, earning his Certificate in Orthodontics from the Georgia Health Sciences University (Medical College of Georgia) School of Dentistry.

Dr. Rogers is currently on the orthodontic faculty at the Georgia Health Sciences University and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He has received numerous professional recognitions, including those from Georgia Association of Orthodontists (Exemplary Service Award, 1991 and 2006), Oren A. Oliver Southern Association of Orthodontists (Distinguished Service Award, 2002), and Emory University School of Dentistry (Meritorious Service Award, 2009).

Dr. Rogers has been active in several professional organizations, including the American Dental Association, Georgia Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists, Southern Association of Orthodontists, Georgia Association of Orthodontists, Medical College of Georgia Orthodontic Alumni Association, Georgia Health Sciences University School of Dentistry Steering Committee, College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics, Eastern District Dental Society, and Georgia Academy of Dental Practice. He has been published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, Orthodontic Products, and the American Journal of Orthodontics.

When did you first decide to become an orthodontist? Why?
When I was a sophomore in dental school, we had an orthodontic lab and I enjoyed the challenge of bending the wires. In addition, I began to realize how orthodontics can improve a person’s self esteem by improving their appearance. It can make a difference in the job offers they receive, and even their selection of a spouse.

How/why did you choose the school you attended?
I lived in Augusta and selected Emory University (in Atlanta). Its dental school had an excellent reputation. Emory was also the only dental school in Georgia, South Carolina, or Florida at that time. My orthodontic education was at the Georgia Health Sciences University, formerly the Medical College of Georgia.

What surprised you the most about your studies?
I was surprised in dental school by the amount of lab work and dexterity that were involved. Being “good with your hands” is very important for a successful dental career.

If you had it to do all over again, would you still become an orthodontist? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
Yes, if I had it to do all over again, I would still become an orthodontist. Orthodontics has been a rewarding career from all aspects. It has allowed me to influence many lives through improving their smiles.

Has being an orthodontist met your expectations? Why?
Yes, being an orthodontist has more than met my expectations, because it has allowed me to influence many lives by improving their smiles. In orthodontics there are no failures since everyone experiences some improvement. It is very rewarding to see the big smile when the braces are removed, and in many instances the improvement in self esteem.

What do you like most about being an orthodontist?
As an orthodontist, I most enjoy dealing with people and the many variations in orthodontic cases. Some cases involve jaw surgery while others require functional appliances (growth appliances). In addition, I enjoy seeing the “big happy smile” at the end of treatment.

What do you like least about being an orthodontist?
Like any business that depends on appointment keeping, I am sometimes frustrated with the way the schedule can become hectic if patients are running late. On occasion, the schedule is delayed by patients whose appliances are loose and in need of repair. In addition, some patients will not brush their teeth or cooperate in other ways, which can lead to a lot of frustration. Patients can compromise the results of their treatment if they do not keep up with home hygiene, diet recommendations and professional prophylaxis.

How much of your time is spent teaching/seeing patients/doing research?Can you change that mix if you want to?
I spend most of my time seeing patients and being involved in organized dentistry (volunteering in organizations for dentists and orthodontists on local, state, regional and national levels). I’m on the faculty of Georgia Health Sciences University School of Dentistry, and would like to do more teaching if time ever allows. I also lecture at orthodontic meetings on the Banded Herbst Appliance; I contributed to its development. In addition, I lecture on practice management.

Describe a typical day at work.
Our office days begin at 7:50 a.m. with a 10-minute staff meeting, followed by short appointment visits from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. New starts and debandings (placing braces and removing braces) begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 12:15 p.m. After lunch, we schedule another staff meeting at 1:20 p.m. for 10, minutes followed by our afternoon of appointments. We have very short appointments after school from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. so that we can accommodate as many patients as possible. The typical work day is from 7:50 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 65 minutes for lunch.

Do you work with mid-level providers, and if so, what kind(s)?
No.

On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
I work about 45 hours per week on patient-related activities, counting actual time seeing patients, treatment planning and correspondence (keeping patients’ dentists informed about the progress of their orthodontic treatment). In addition, I work another 30 or more hours per week on activities with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). I am AAO president this year, and have served on the AAO’s Board of Trustees since 2002. Needless to say, this is not typical for most orthodontists.

I sleep six to seven hours per night. I enjoy about four weeks of vacation per year.

Are you satisfied with your income?
Yes.

If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
My income was sufficient to pay back my education loans.

In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
I would do everything the same.

What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were beginning school?
I think that it is important to follow a conservative spending plan so that student debt will not affect the ability to obtain a practice loan. In addition, work hard so that so that you will have the skills to treat your future patients to a high standard.

From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
The biggest problem in healthcare today stems from government and insurance companies attempting to dictate treatment options in an area where they lack the skills.

Where do you see orthodontics in 10 years?
Orthodontists will continue to improve orthodontic treatment by utilizing computers for treatment planning and even wire bending. Impressions will be a thing of the past, since full-mouth scanning will be the option of choice. In addition, orthodontic wires will continue to improve, and this will lengthen the time between appointments.

What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I am the 2011-12 president of the American Association of Orthodontists, which occupies most of my spare time. It seems that I have always been involved in some area of organized dentistry. I believe it’s important to give back to the profession by offering my time and expertise. I have been president of the Southern Association of Orthodontists, the Georgia Dental Association, the Georgia Association of Orthodontists, the Eastern Georgia District Dental Society, and the Augusta Georgia Dental Society. I have been a delegate in the House of Delegates (a governing/policy-setting body) for the AAO and for the American Dental Association. I have been Speaker of the House of Delegates for the AAO and Speaker of the House of the Georgia Dental Association.

How do you spend your free time? Any hobbies?I run marathons, completing eight of them last year. In addition, I entered a half-marathon and a 70.3 ironman, winning my age group.

Anything else you’d care to add?
I think it’s a good idea to shadow an orthodontist for a couple of days to make sure one would enjoy the fast-paced environment of an orthodontic office. The orthodontist has to be able to multitask and make quick decisions. Because many of our appointments are short, the orthodontist deals with many patients and many procedures in a day. I had one dental student change his mind after a visit to our office. He wanted a calmer environment that involved longer procedures, so he selected a different specialty.

In addition, acceptance into an orthodontic residency program is very competitive, so it is essential to maintain a high class standing. This means that you must be dedicated to your studies.

I also think that it is important for dental students to know that their hard work will pay off. While in school, sometimes I felt that it would never end. In addition, in my opinion, orthodontics is the best profession that one could select since you are generally working on healthy, happy patients.

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