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Rancho Santa Fe orthodontist prints 3D masks for first responders

Dr. Melanie Wang is making 3D printed masks for first responders.
(Courtesy)

With her office closed, Rancho Santa Fe orthodontist Dr. Melanie Wang has shifted to printing 3D masks for first responders.

Wang is the new owner of Kupiec Orthodontics in Fairbanks Village Plaza— so new in fact that she only worked one day in her new office before she was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang opened her first practice in 4S Ranch in 2007, setting up her office neighboring her husband Dr. Jimmy Wang’s general dentistry practice. She is a San Diego native who grew up in Poway, the oldest of three daughters of a dentist. After graduating from UC San Diego, she went on to UCLA School of Dentistry and completed her orthodontic specialty training at St. Louis University. The mother of three and her family used to live in The Crosby Estates and the Rancho Santa Fe community seemed like a good fit to expand.

Since having to shut down Wang said many patients, friends and neighbors were asking her to donate personal protective equipment from her practice, including a terrified friend on the front lines in New York City.

“I was happy to donate but I ran out and people were still asking me,” she said.

Wang did some research online and found that dentists had created a file that could be downloaded to print N95 masks on her 3D printer.

“I thought, ‘I’m not working, this is something for me to do,” she said. “It’s crazy, the first mask was really bulky but it’s gotten smaller and more comfortable as dentists have refined the file and posted it online, even within one week.”

The refinements have now included facial scans—what was a dental app for planning complex restorations is now being used to create custom face masks for healthcare workers.

Wang has started a list of people looking to get her 3D masks. She also donated 468 promotional elastic hair ties from her practice to a local neighborhood sewing group that is making homemade masks. She said it is cool to see so many people willing to give back and try to help in any way they can.

Wang is still getting to know the Rancho Santa Fe community and said it has definitely been a weird time to make a transition— some patients still weren’t even aware of the change although she has done her best to get the word out.

“Everyone who has met me is really happy,” she said. “I can’t wait to meet everyone when this is over and really grow the practice.”

For now, Dr. Melanie is offering virtual visits and consultations. For more information, visit www.drmelanieorthodontics.com


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