When Dr. James Bruce McLain and Dr. J. Richard Steedle founded their orthodontic practice in 1985, they began a legacy not only of expert, skilled and knowledgeable orthodontic care with a focus on the patient, but also of reaching out to their community, to help and serve in any way they could. Upon the retirement of Drs. McLain and Steedle, Dr. David Chermak and Dr. John Hanson took over the practice, striving every day to maintain a patient-centered practice while staying active in their community, knowing that serving others is the greatest reward in life. As Dr. Hanson said, “Drs. McLain and Steedle left quite a legacy of giving in our community, not only with their patients, but with those they served outside of the office.”
Some people know exactly what “they want to be when they grow up,” and others take a more circuitous route to finding their calling in life. Dr. Chermak knew that he wanted to be involved within the medical field in some area, and dentistry was of specific interest to him; Dr. Hanson was mechanically minded and initially chose engineering, and in the end, they came to their orthodontic practice with different perspectives, but sharing a belief in what makes for a successful practice.
Dr. David Chermak
Dr. Chermak, a native of California, after a few moves across the country, found himself at the University of Kentucky, receiving his undergraduate degree and then attending dental school at the University of Louisville, finishing up his orthodontic residency at Detroit Mercy. “Growing up, I felt like medicine was an area I wanted to be in, and I had had a great experience with my dentist and my orthodontist, so that had a big influence on my decision to pursue dentistry. I wanted to help and serve others, and through orthodontics I can make an impact on a young person or an adult by giving them the smile and confidence they may not have had,” commented Dr. Chermak.
Following his residency, Dr. Chermak, knowing he wanted to live in the South, moved to Raleigh, NC, working in a practice for less than a year, before coming on board with Drs. McLain and Steedle, in 2001, when Dr. McLain retired. “My wife, Marci, a dental hygienist, and I moved here to Winston-Salem from Raleigh almost 15 years ago, and this area has become our home. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. With our two sons, Stephen, 9, and Pierce, 6, we stay busy. Marci has continued to work two days a week at Clemmons Family Dental and volunteers at our son’s school each week,” Dr. Chermak said. For Dr. Chermak, being an orthodontist is about establishing a trust from the patient’s first visit.
“Building relationships with not only our patients, but with their parents, is very important, because braces ‘happen’ to a family. The support that parents give us at home makes a huge impact on how successful the orthodontic treatment is in the end. Most of our patients are between 8−15 years old, but we have adults into their 80s who have orthodontic work. With each patient, seeing them leave with a big smile, knowing we have helped to change their lives, is a great reward and the reason our team loves what we do on a daily basis,” commented Dr. Chermak.
Dr. John Hanson
Dr. John Hanson grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and loved to take things apart, finding out exactly how they worked. “My family has always believed in hard work and making a difference in the lives of others. My maternal grandfather, an immigrant from Italy, arrived like many others with nothing, became a coal miner in Pennsylvania, and was eventually paralyzed from the waist down in a mining accident. To support the family, my mother and her sister worked at various jobs. Sadly, my father’s father died when he was 16, so he joined the Army and served during the Korean War, going to college on the GI bill, returning to Cleveland for work and school,” recalled Dr. Hanson. An engineer at heart, Dr. Hanson majored in mechanical engineering at Ohio State University, but after accepting an internship with NASA in Cleveland his junior year, Dr. Hanson transferred to Cleveland State University, where he graduated. “After my research at NASA in the area of ceramics, I took a position with General Electric Company as a field engineer, but I felt that there was something more for me. My wife, a dental hygienist, was working for a general dentist and an orthodontist, and one day I went and observed. When I saw orthodontics, that was it…engineering in the mouth! I returned to school for dentistry at the University of Illinois in Chicago, while my wife worked six days a week to support our growing family of, by then, two children,” Dr. Hanson commented.
A trip to North Carolina was all it took to sell Dr. Hanson and his wife, Michelle, on moving, so he practiced as a general dentist in Matthews, NC, with orthodontics still in his heart. “We saved our money and then, unfortunately, my father died, and with the portion he left me, I supported my family—at the time, three children—while in orthodontic training at the University of Rochester in New York. After completing the training in 2003, we returned to NC, settling in Winston-Salem with child number four, born one week after moving and, since then, adding another one. With three boys and two girls, ranging in age from 20−10, life is busy and full,” stated Dr. Hanson.
Different Paths, Same Destination
Drs. Chermak and Hanson didn’t know each other before becoming partners; their paths never crossed. “Through the American Association of Orthodontists, individually, we submitted information that got us in touch with Drs. McLain and Steedle, each interested in retiring, which led to us partnering in the practice. The situation couldn’t have worked out better. Even though we came into orthodontics from different paths, we share the vision of making each patient’s experience the best it can be. With the advancements in braces and orthodontic appliances, we can move teeth in a gentler fashion, with less pain and fewer visits. Success in orthodontics involves the patient having an understanding of how their decisions can impact the time they wear braces and the outcome. Establishing a strong relationship with the patient is important when asking them to do certain things for a better outcome. That may be brushing well, taking care of their appliances, or wearing rubber bands or retainers. What our team does every day is so rewarding, and hearing patients say, the day they get their braces off, ‘I’m going to miss coming here,’ tells us that we are doing something right,” Dr. Hanson said. Yet the team at Chermak and Hanson doesn’t just make a difference during business hours, but in their communities after-hours.
“Over the years, our practice has been supported by our community, and so giving back and serving others is an important part of who we are. We have participated in building two Habitat for Humanity houses, supported local organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, The Arts Council, and The YMCA Partnership with Youth. We have volunteered with Catholic Social Services, as well as sponsoring many activities, including annual school auctions, yearbooks, sports teams, bands and cheerleading activities—the list goes on. We have been blessed with the team we have in place, our patients, and the communities we serve, so giving back will always be part of who we are. If you work every day to serve others, what can go wrong?” stated Dr. Hanson.
Chermak and Hanson Orthodontics serves patients at three locations: 1564 N. Peace Haven Road, Winston-Salem, NC, 336-760-1491; 3742 Clemmons Road, Clemmons, NC, 336-766-8244; and 524 S. Main Street, King, NC, 336-983-4551. For more information, visit www.smileland.com.