Orthodontist Focuses on Leaving Lasting Impressions

March 6, 2017
Ed Rabinowitz

Ross Segal, D.D.S., believes in treating “the whole facial complex.” It’s a philosophy that has positioned him as one of southern New Jersey’s top orthodontists. Segal has accepted and successfully treated numerous cases that others have deemed impossible. He continues to advance the orthodontic field through a commitment to self-discipline and improvement.

Ross Segal, D.D.S., has developed a reputation at his southern New Jersey orthodontic practice of taking on the most difficult Invisalign cases.

When Ross Segal was growing up in Boston he would frequent his mother’s dental practice on snow days or when school was not in session to witness firsthand how cosmetic dentistry can improve peoples’ lives.

“She had a lot of complicated cases where she really transformed peoples’ lives,” Segal recalls. “She took people who were embarrassed to smile and, after a few treatments, she would hand them a mirror and they would just cry in her chair because they were so happy. That really left a lasting impression on me.”

And it was the main inspiration for Segal, a partner in Marlton, New Jersey-based Segal and Iyer Orthodontics, to follow his mom into the field of dentistry.

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ORTHO FOCUS

Segal says he chose orthodontics because he didn’t just want to care for people’s teeth. He wanted to treat “the whole facial complex.” His philosophy is when he creates a smile, he takes the person’s entire face into account.

“There are many different types of situations where we have to create a smile that doesn’t just look good by itself, but that compliments the individual’s face,” Segal explains. “We really help transform faces, not just smiles.”

That approach has helped put his practice in the top one percent of all Invisalign providers nationwide. Challenging cases that practitioners didn’t think could be treated with Invisalign were referred to Segal and Iyer.

“We were like the last stop,” he says. “And we were able to get some pretty amazing results.”

Word got around, and from then on the practice saw more and more cases. Segal began lecturing at universities, including Harvard and Temple, and still lectures at the University of Pennsylvania every semester. He talks about using orthodontics to change faces. To create smiles that compliment faces. His reputation continued to spread.

“It’s just a snowball effect at this point,” he says.

But Segal doesn’t lecture just to spread the word about Invisalign or his practice. He says the philosophy of treating the whole person as opposed to just their teeth was not stressed as much as it should have been while he was in dental school. That’s a perspective he enjoys bringing to current dental students.

“These days with insurance-based dentistry there’s a tendency to avoid treating the whole person, because that becomes more costly for the individual,” Segal says. “What we teach is a way to treat the whole patient, a comprehensive approach that really changes lives, and a way to present it to patients.”

It’s a holistic, comprehensive style of dentistry, Segal says. Interdisciplinary, in many respects, because dental school graduates often don’t understand the importance of using other specialties to obtain the best outcome. Instead, they try to do everything themselves.

“If they can’t do orthodontics, they may camouflage,” he says. “They’ll do something else and not necessarily get the best results. But you can use a team of dentists when you don’t necessarily have the expertise yourself.”

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STAYING FOCUSED

Segal has been involved in martial arts since he was 14 years old. He says it has taught him discipline; a kind of don’t-give-up attitude that he says was most beneficial when he graduated dental school and had several hundred thousand dollars in student loans. That level of debt, he believes, is the main reason students either join corporations, or open up an insurance-based practice, or do what Segal calls low-fee treatment, because it pays the bills.

“They worry about rejection,” he explains. “So they do a treatment that, even though it’s more likely to gain acceptance from the patient, in the long run, they’re not doing what’s necessarily best for the patient. Working becomes a job as opposed to the passion that initially gets people to join dentistry.”

Martial arts, Segal explains, has helped him stay disciplined, and stay focused on his end goals, even when he first came out of school and patients went to another dentist because they didn’t accept his comprehensive plans. Today, with the reputation he’s earned and the expertise he has accumulated, those patients are much more likely to accept his treatment plans—despite some added costs.

“I attribute a lot of that to my ability to never give up, and to do what’s best for the patient, not necessarily what is more likely to get the patient to accept treatment,” he says.

SWEET AND ACTIVE

Despite a demanding schedule, Segal stays actively involved with his family. It’s not unusual for him to dance with his daughter Alexa, who participates on a local dance team, or to climb into the mixed martial arts cage in his basement with his 9-year-old son Jordan.

“He’s a little prodigy wrestler,” Segal says of his son, who recently went undefeated in winning the South Jersey varsity championship. “He’s the only one I’m scared of.”

The wrestling, Segal says, is helping Jordan learn the same positive attributes his father learned from martial arts.

“Wrestling is very demanding,” Segal says. “There are many times when you want to stop and give up. He’s learning the type of discipline that you cannot give up. And it carries forward into life.”

Segal acknowledges having a substantial sweet tooth, perhaps an unusual admission by an orthodontist, but he says that recognition has actually helped him in his philosophy to children and sweets.

“When I was a child I was told, ‘You can’t have sweets because they cause cavities,’” Segal explains. “So I kind of sneaked the sweets and ended up getting multiple cavities. Because you can’t tell a kid they can’t have something they obviously want.”

His solution as an oral practitioner? Allow children to have sweets as long as they have a bottle of water next to them, and they swish their mouths right after eating the sweets. That alone, he says, will reduce the chance of cavities. As will adding one more brushing during lunch rather than just in the morning and at bedtime.

“Rather than deprive them, find a way to work around it.”

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