By Kelley Carlson
For Natalie Lam, owner of Rancho Santa Fe Orthodontics, a career in the dentistry specialty aligns perfectly with her interests, strengths and passions.
“My favorite subjects in school were biology and physics,” she explained. “I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I remember even when I was a kid that I loved doing arts and crafts, putting together puzzles, and taking apart my toys and putting them back together.
“Orthodontics is very much like putting together a puzzle using biology, physics, and art: It is moving teeth so that they fit perfectly and create a beautiful smile,” Lam added. “I knew I wanted a career where I could help people. Orthodontics can have such a positive impact on a person’s life by increasing someone’s self-esteem and confidence, and helping them achieve the smile they always wanted.”
To achieve her goals, Lam first attended Duke University, where she received a bachelor of science degree and graduated magna cum laude in 1997. Lam then earned a doctor of dental medicine degree from Harvard in 2003. She owned an orthodontic practice in Arlington, Va., before moving to California at the end of 2010. This year, Lam became a Rancho Santa Fe resident.
“I decided that I wanted to put down roots in an area of Southern California that values community and family,” she said. “I can’t think of a more beautiful, community-oriented spot than Rancho Santa Fe. It is such a special place — simply idyllic, really — and it doesn’t hurt that my sister and her family reside here.”
In April, Lam opened Rancho Santa Fe Orthodontics, a boutique orthodontic practice.
“I opened Rancho Santa Fe Orthodontics in response to the frustration of busy parents having to drive their children for frequent orthodontic appointments every month,” she said. “I believe the community of Rancho Santa Fe, particularly with the growing number of large families, could really benefit by having an orthodontist conveniently located right in town.”
Lam describes her business as “a small, patient-oriented office designed around excellent orthodontic care and convenience.” There are two assistants to help her with patients.
“We are committed to providing specialized treatment in a personal and welcoming atmosphere,” she said. “Larger orthodontic practices often give off a feel of an assembly line. By keeping Rancho Santa Fe Orthodontics a small practice, we are able to do what we enjoy the most — really getting to know our patients and exceeding expectations, both in terms of service as well as in the quality of our treatment outcomes.”
Orthodontic treatment is available for children and adults. Among the services offered are complimentary consultations, traditional metal braces, clear braces, Damon self-ligating braces and Invisalign.
Children should come in for a visit by the time they are 7 years old, Lam said.
“I follow the American Association of Orthodontists recommendation that all children have a check-up by an orthodontist by the age of 7,” she said. “By this age, the first adult molars have erupted, establishing the back bite, and the front teeth are erupting. I can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships and recognize an upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough during this time. At this early age, orthodontic intervention may not be necessary, but I can carefully monitor growth and development and recommend treatment when it is ideal.”
Rancho Santa Fe Orthodonics is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Lam added that she will see patients in the evenings and on weekends upon special request.
The office is at 5951 La Sendita, Rancho Santa Fe. Call (858) 756-5900, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to rsforthodontics.com.