Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
A guy walks into an orthodontist’s office and asks how much it’s going to cost to straighten out his teeth. After he looks at the dollar amount, he shrugs it off and heads home to make his own braces…for $60.00. Then he ends up on practically every news site in the free world.
So you have heard that one? If not, I promise I’m not making it up. Last week I saw numerous headlines everywhere from Buzzfeed to Fox to newspapers in the UK and they all said the same thing. “College student makes his own braces for $60.”
Amazing, right? I mean who needs the orthodontist anyway?
Well actually, Amos Dudley did. That’s the name of the guy that made his own braces and of course just like a lot of other popular stories on the internet, there’s more to it than meets the iPhone. Allow me to explain and dissect this headline.
“Amos, a 24 year old college student…”
Actually Amos is a 3D designer. He has a B/A in architecture and he’s just earned his second B/A in Digital Design from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He’s been part of a team that was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore turning digital surveying into 3D model generation. His resume states he’s proficient in programs such as AutoCAD, ZBrush, and CryEngine 3. I have no idea what these programs do but as you can see, we’re rapidly putting distance between that “college student” label. Amos is obviously a very smart kid, a specialist in his field and extremely knowledgeable in 3D technology.
“…makes his own braces…”
Actually Amos didn’t make his own braces, he made his own retainer. When Amos was a kid, he was treated by an Orthodontist and wore traditional braces. But he grew tired of wearing the retainer and eventually he had a few teeth come out of alignment. So instead of returning to the orthodontist (because it was too expensive) he made his own retainer…for $60.
Well because Amos is a 3D designer, he happened to have access to a $32,000 Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D modeler AND a Formech 300xq 3D vacuum forming machine, which the manufacturer says is “… the world’s leading vacuum forming machine for education and product design.” And I’ll bet it’s a bargain at only $5,500.00. If you’d like to make your own retainer, I suppose you could rent one of these babies, but I don’t know where. Maybe Michelin has a few lying around?
So how long did it take him to actually “make his own braces”?
Judging by his own blog post, I’d say it took him the better part of several months. And it wasn’t a small matter to create the mold. In his own words, “Laser scanning with the NextEngine machine” was necessary. As was a thorough understanding of two journals on orthodontia: “My two main reference texts here were Contemporary Orthodontics (5e) by William Proffit DDS, PhD, and Orthodontics at a Glance by Gill Daljit. I don’t claim to be an orthodontist, but I needed to be aware of the risks and guidelines.”
I’m not an orthodontist either, just a dentist, but reading dental journals in order to successfully clean, drill into, polish, and repair teeth is something one doesn’t enter into lightly.
After he digested these two journals, he made a mold of liquid Permastone and went from there.
Alright… by now we’ve all figured out yet that Amos is a very smart and clever young adult with an extraordinary set of skills, a fair amount of free time, complimentary access to some very high-tech equipment as well as a lot of chutzpah.
I mean I really admire this guy for saying to himself “I wonder if I could do this?” And then shrugging his shoulders and saying “Sure. Why not?” But he’s hardly what most of us would picture when we hear the words “college kid” and this process cost him waaaay more than $60.00. Maybe the Permastone cost him six Hamiltons but the time spent in this process was significant.
So my friends, the lesson here is two-fold. A guy with a Dr. (as in Dr. Mark Muncy, Pediatric Dentist) in front of his name has a wealth of knowledge in his subject AND after reading up on what this process actually cost Amos, a few years under the care of a professional Orthodontist sounds like a bargain. If you need one, just ask and we can recommend a full-time Orthodontist with an excellent track record. Just remember to wear that retainer until you’re asked not to.
And if you or someone you know is looking for a Pediatric Dentist with Dr. in front of his name, you know where to find me.
And remember, as President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”