Dr. Darren’s experience with orthodontics as a child made a direct impact on his career choice as an adult. At 8 years old, classmates made fun of him because of a 3mm gap between his two front teeth, so he often kept his mouth closed trying to hide it. He remembers dreading going to school.
“They called me beaver teeth,” he says. “I was so thankful when my parents sought orthodontic treatment because when I got my braces off, it felt so good to smile again. When deciding what I wanted to do when I grew up, I thought ‘I want to change other peoples’ lives like that.”
His experience with braces as a child was all the way back in 1984 – before Snapchat and Instagram. Today as a father of four, he’s seeing that children’s self-esteem is affected more than ever since their photos are constantly shared on social media for the whole school to see. Any child with a large gap or crooked teeth today is very likely to be self-conscious.
“In today’s world, beginning orthodontics in middle school or even earlier means giving kids a chance to stay confident as they continue through school and throughout life,” he says.
As a member of the Bankhead team since 2006, Dr. Darren has helped improve the self-esteem of hundreds of kids and adults in the St. Louis and metro-East areas. Some of his most memorable cases, however, have been those that go far beyond aesthetics. Using the most advanced orthodontic treatment tools has allowed him to help patients with cleft lips and cleft palates be able to eat and speak normally. He’s also solved severe cases of sleep apnea and Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) by repositioning the jaw to allow the patient to breathe at night or live without severe jaw pain and constant popping.
“These transformations are forever,” he says. “When we improve someone’s ability to communicate, or allow someone to eat normal foods, or to breathe without sitting up for the rest of their life, there’s no way to explain how good that makes us feel.”
In the past 13 years, Dr. Darren has seen incredible advancements in the treatment methods available for his patients, including Invisalign and SureSmile. But while he and the other Experts in the Art of Orthodontics at Bankhead are highly skilled and knowledgeable in these advancements, their number one goal is to treat each patient using whichever method will deliver lasting results.
“Not everyone fits in the same box,” he says. “Patients come to us and they want the newest or fastest method, or the most invisible appliance, but we look at the pluses and minuses of every option. We decide which approach will work best for them and it may take longer or may not be what they initially had in mind, but they will get results that they’ll be happy with for a lifetime.”
On most early mornings and weekends, Dr. Darren is on his bike or a long run, often training for his next triathlon. Recently, he completed a ride from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. He’s also active in Pedal for the Cause and participates in races that raise money for the ALS foundation. On any given weeknight, you’ll find him helping his four kids from ages 10-18 with math and science homework (his wife, Erin, is the English expert). He also stays active in helping to educate aspiring orthodontists, giving about 30 lectures to dental societies, dental offices, and colleges each year.
Undergraduate: Brigham Young University (Finance)
Dental School: University of Washington (Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS)
Orthodontic Residency: Saint Louis University (Orthodontic Certification)
Masters of Science Degree: Saint Louis University
Fellowship: Southern Illinois University
If you or your child need orthodontic treatment, work with the experts at Bankhead Orthodontic Specialists. Serving the St. Louis, MO, Metro area as well as southeastern Illinois via six convenient locations, these trained specialists offer traditional, lingual and clear braces as well as Invisalign® to provide patients with highly customized solutions. Call (636) 978-8848 today to schedule a consultation and visit the website for more information.