For many parents, there comes that day when they look at their child and think, “I’m not sure he is going to outgrow that overbite,” or “Maybe her teeth aren’t going to straighten up on their own.” Parents start to consider and discuss orthodontics—well, more like, “When will we need to get braces?” And it is “we,” because despite the fact that the braces, appliances or treatments are for one’s child, the whole family is involved, so choosing an orthodontist that knows the importance of having the entire family engaged in the process is important. Since 1972, Drs. Handy & Handy Orthodontics has been a part of many Triad families and has continuously expanded their “family” with the addition of each new patient.
A Family Practice in Every Sense of the Word
Dr. Thom Handy, native of Elkin, NC, originally thought he would become a medical physician and began his college studies at Wake Forest University to do just that, but when he started considering what specific area of medicine to pursue, the idea of dentistry became of interest. “I was a chemistry major in my third year at WFU. As I was preparing to apply to medical school, some friends began talking to me about their plans to attend dental school. The more I learned about dentistry, the more interested I became, and I found myself increasingly excited about orthodontics. It really fit my personality and my idea of wanting to care for patients from a positive perspective. After dental school and orthodontic training at UNC, I married Elaine, my wife of 47 years, and served for two years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, spending time in Greece, Turkey, Iran, Libya, Crete and Italy, providing orthodontic care for dependents of US servicemen. When I returned to North Carolina, I first partnered with an orthodontist in Raleigh. But Elaine and I quickly realized that we wanted to be closer to home. I then opened my own private practice in Lexington. That small practice has since been blessed and grown to locations in Winston-Salem and, most recently, Advance. As my practice has grown, so too has the Handy family. Our older son, Gordon, married the love of his life, Holly, and they now have a precious one-year-old son, Thomas Gordon Handy, III. Our younger son, Michael, married his life-long love, Laura, and they are now raising six wonderful children in Greensboro, where Michael maintains his own orthopedic trauma surgery practice.”
A Chosen Path Takes a Turn to Better Serve Others
One day when Dr. Gordon Handy was considering his educational options, he remarked to his father, “Dad, I will never go to UNC and I will never be a dentist.” With a grin on his face, Dr. Gordon explains that at that time he had his mind fixed on business and law. “Fortunately, I changed my mind, because I am definitely fulfilling my calling as an orthodontist,” Dr. Gordon said.
During his junior year of college (at UNC, of course!), Gordon was asked about his father’s career by a fraternity brother who was interested in going into orthodontics. “Talking to my friend helped me to see that what my father did on a daily basis really matched what I valued in life. As a Christian, I believe that God has put us here for a purpose. I sat down and literally made a list of the ‘Pros and Cons’ of a career in business vs. a career in orthodontics. It was then that it crystallized for me: I realized that the most meaningful difference I could make wasn’t on the ‘big stage’ of business, but rather one-on-one serving patients and their families within my community, just like my father had done his entire career. That need to serve and to make a real, personal difference made practicing orthodontics the perfect career for me. I will never forget the look of surprise and joy on my father’s face when I told him that I was planning to go to dental school (at UNC, of course!) and that I really wanted to follow in his footsteps to become an orthodontist. He almost fell out the window he was standing beside due to the shock, but we both knew down deep that my decision was right on—that orthodontics was where I was designed and called to be,” commented Dr. Gordon. Dr. Gordon always knew after college that he wanted to settle in Winston-Salem. “I loved growing up in Winston and my whole family loves this community, so after school I knew I wanted to live here and practice with my Dad. At 41 years-old it was bottom of the ninth, two outs, but by God’s mercy and grace I was blessed beyond measure to marry Holly, my soul-mate, three years ago, and we have since been blessed with an amazing son, Thomas Gordon Handy, III, who recently turned one,” stated Dr. Gordon.
Father and Son Become Business Partners
When Dr. Gordon Handy joined his father’s practice, neither of them wanted their great relationship as a father and son to change, so they put a lot of effort into figuring out their new working roles, one step at a time. “Working together was a whole different and challenging bag of donuts, and making sure that our relationship didn’t change because we were business partners was something that we had to feel our way through,” said Dr. Thom Handy. “We had to decide that above all we were family, loving father and son, and business would always have to come second. At times it has been more challenging than we thought, but it has also been so much better than we thought, too.” The family ties within Drs. Handy & Handy Orthodontics run deep. “Pop” Handy, Dr. Thom’s deceased father and Dr. Gordon’s grandfather, built the Winston-Salem office building; “Nanny” Handy, Dr. Thom’s 97-year-old mother and Dr. Gordon’s grandmother, served as the receptionist in the early years; Dr. Thom’s sister and Dr. Gordon’s aunt is the business manager; and Dr. Thom’s brother and Dr. Gordon’s uncle owns a dental lab that makes many of the practice’s orthodontic appliances. This father-and-son duo have always found a way to put love for family first, and by so doing, have created an environment where everyone who becomes a part of their special practice feels just like one of the family too.
Cutting-Edge Technology, Old-School Ethics Approach to Creating Beautiful Smiles
Drs. Handy and Handy are dedicated to providing their patients cutting-edge orthodontic treatment while holding unwaveringly to the old-school ethics of absolute honesty and always “doing the right thing.” Dr. Thom and Dr. Gordon believe that the time, care, skill and judgment they provide to patients and parents during the diagnosis and treatment-planning consultation is of paramount importance in avoiding unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming procedures and achieving an excellent orthodontic result for each patient at the end of treatment. Dr. Thom observed, “Parents today do so much research on the Internet before they come to see us. From the moment they notice a problem with their child’s teeth, they want to know what should be done. Many families get several orthodontic opinions which, they quickly discover, can vary widely.” Drs. Handy & Handy help families navigate this ocean of available information and differing opinions and make wise decisions regarding treatment options and optimal treatment timing. “We stay abreast of the science of orthodontics and leverage the wisdom we have gained from thousands of cases treated over the years to help our patients and their families achieve excellent orthodontic results in the most efficient timeframe. We offer early interceptive or Phase I treatment to younger patients with certain more significant skeletal malocclusions, like underbites and posterior crossbites, or simply to improve the smile of those children who are having growing social concerns about how their smile looks. On the other hand, we recommend against early treatment of some young patients because of the risk of damage to developing permanent tooth roots, or because orthodontic research has proved early treatment of certain malalignment or bite problems is unnecessarily time-consuming and expensive, and does not help to achieve a better overall orthodontic treatment result. The gold standard remains orthodontic treatment slightly before and during the adolescent growth spurt,” stated Dr. Gordon. Yet adult orthodontics is one of the fastest-growing segments of Drs. Handy & Handy’s practice today. Clear braces and Invisalign therapy have encouraged many adults to consider orthodontics to achieve a more beautiful and youthful smile. “Today’s technology is amazing! Braces are much smaller and wires are more gentle and act over much longer periods of time, often allowing patients to complete their care in half the number of office visits as in the past,” commented Dr. Gordon.
The warm family atmosphere, along with the integrity and cutting-edge clinical excellence of Drs. Handy and Handy Orthodontic Specialists has been a pillar of the healthcare community in the Triad for over 40 years. With unbridled enthusiasm for the art and science of orthodontics, a brand-new office location in Advance and a baby Thomas Gordon Handy in training, it’s a safe bet that Drs. Handy & Handy will be serving patients and making a meaningful difference in the lives of families in our community for many years to come.
Drs. Handy & Handy Orthodontics has three locations to better serve you. Winston-Salem: 1700 S. Hawthorne Road 336.765.7870; Advance: 5519 US
Highway 158 : 336.766.3052 & Lexington: 249 Talbert Boulevard: 336.249.7086