Paul Serrano

Written by Kevin Barry Category: Profiles Issue: October 2016
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Orthodontics
Dental School: UCLA; University of California San Francisco orthodontic residency
Years in Practice: 34

What are some of the most common orthodontic maladies?
Misalignment of jaws and teeth: “crowding and bite problems.” If the malrelationships are severe or chronic over many years, other structures like the gums and [jaw joints] can be affected.

Any cool new techniques or procedures on the horizon in orthodontics?
Technology has certainly played a huge role in improving outcomes and making the experience much better. We no longer need to take “the dreaded impression” and now can “scan with a wand” inside the mouth to take a model. Also: “accelerated orthodontics” using such things as vibration devices can shorten treatment times as much as 50 percent. Clear brackets and clear aligners have improved in cosmetics and efficiency so that many people are good candidates.

What is the most difficult rule for braces-wearers to follow?
While there are many challenges during orthodontic treatment like keeping your braces brushed, wearing rubber bands, keeping the usual appointments about every eight weeks, wearing your aligners 22 hours, etc., none are more important than WEAR THE RETAINERS AS INSTRUCTED! Long-term retention seems to be well-documented by current orthodontic research.

Orthodontists don’t prescribe headgear anymore, do they? Those things are medieval.
Headgears definitely are used a lot less these days, and if they are indicated they are used on young children and just at night.

Are adult orthodontic patients getting more common? How old was the oldest patient you’ve ever had?
For sure the numbers of adults seeking out correction of their teeth has increased over the last 20 years. I have been fortunate to have been able to see patients of all ages, and my staff is awesome with all the age ranges. I have had patients as young as 3 months (for a cleft lip) to as mature as 86 years old. She was so sweet. She said, “My teeth have always been my special thing and [I] want them never to be crooked.” I was able to realign the rogue tooth in several months and she was thrilled. She just had her 93rd birthday.  

Your office offers cookies and coffee in the lobby. What’s your favorite kind of cookie?  
My favorite is the oatmeal raisin. But I have to limit it to one a day. They are addicting!

What are your hobbies and passions outside dentistry?
When I’m not in the office I’m riding my road bicycle with my cycling friends in places like Lake Tahoe, Italy, France and even Bisbee, Arizona.  

“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be...”
Probably a sports coach. I was offered a coaching position at Brown University and came close to taking a few years off between college and dental school to follow this option... but dental school won out.