An oasis in an orthodontic desert

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Dr. Grant Severs with his wife, Makenzie

“I’m your Huckleberry” might as well have been the words Grant Severs whispered to himself when he chose Quincy to be the home of his new orthodontics practice. Quincy was a bit of an orthodontic desert with a calling for a licensed orthodontic specialist, and many locals have been referred to places right outside of Quincy. As a parent in that desert, I was beginning to feel the heat of the Old West. There were going to be endless doctor visits to Barry or Hannibal, wherever we chose. I had learned during my daughter’s early dental years that she would probably need braces in the future.

“I’m your huckleberry,” Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone”.

I had been putting it on the back burner.

The time, dedication, and O.K. the big one… the price could make anyone want to gamble on just skipping their shot for that perfect smile. It’s not a misnomer that dental work can be expensive, especially for those unlucky souls that have to repeat braces because it didn’t work the first time. A story all too common that can sometimes give orthodontists a bad rep. As a parent, I was feeling a bit lost on this matter.

It wasn’t until I was referred to a soon-to-be brand-new practice right here in town that I started to feel like braces were in the realm of possibility for my daughter.

After graduating from 23rd grade, aka his residency, Dr. Grant Severs moved to Quincy in December of 2021. He associated with another orthodontist for his first six months before taking the opportunity to open his own practice. It took about a year to find the perfect location and then build and market everything. Finally, after years of being lost in a desert of orthodontic uncertainty, Severs Orthodontics opened their doors to Quincy and the surrounding community. 

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Severs and hear his take on how he would bring order to the misaligned. I had asked him to meet me at The Scoreboard because you can tell a lot about a person by the way they order their cheeseburger. Plus, I really wanted a cheeseburger.

Muddy River News likes to spotlight any new business that comes to town and David Adam usually beats me to it, but I figured this one might need a little extra time, just like the process to the perfect smile. I had forgotten to Facebook stalk him beforehand to know exactly who it was that I was meeting and just kept picturing the animated Dr. Phillip Sherman from Finding Nemo. 

Dr. Severs walked into the Scoreboard about twenty years younger and looking more like a Doogie Howser than a Dr. Phillip Sherman. 

Geri took my cheeseburger order, and he ordered the same way. Did we just become best friends? Can I be Wyatt Earp?  

I had googled Dr. Severs and from his online bios I learned that becoming a dentist has been a lifelong dream. The first question I asked him was “why?” It’s always interesting when people know what they want to do in life at an early age. He did a sigh-laugh and flashed a perfect smile and started his story with his grandpa.

“So, my grandpa started these farm supply stores in the 1950s, called Farm King – it’s like Farm and Home here. There I got to see the values in owning your own business and everything that entails. I also had a really good family friend that was a dentist that also owned his own practice.  He invited me to hunt and fish and one day invited me to check out his practice. It was then I knew I wanted to take the doctor route and eventually own my own business.”

Farm King has six stores, including Macomb.

When asked what it means to him to own his own business, Severs said that is both a privilege and a blessing. “Business ownership is not a standard 9 to 5 job, there are no days off, but I love being completely invested in my job, my business, and my patients. It can be exhausting at times, but knowing the difference Severs Orthodontics can make in patients’ smiles makes it all worth it.”

I asked the Doc to spell out his many years of schooling and what exactly his new practice had to offer. He explained that a lot of the focus with his practice is being new. Brand new machines and techniques means that it is much more efficient to achieve the perfect smile. The braces, wires, and appliances used today are much different than the traditional metal braces, stainless steal wires and headgear used in the past. There are even options to use clear aligners.

Severs Orthodontics provides patients with state-of-the-art technology and the latest healthcare practices. His understanding of dentistry is cutting edge as he is fresh out of an impressive eleven-year education.  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at Western Illinois University. He then completed his dental schooling at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, graduating Magna Cum Laude. After receiving his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, Dr. Severs was accepted as one of three residents to a 30-month residency program, specializing in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. 

This is kind of a big deal, in my best Ron Burgundy…

While becoming a licensed orthodontist and receiving a certificate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics at UMKC, he also completed his Master’s in Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. He is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association, the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists, the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association, the Illinois State Dental Society, the Missouri Dental Association, and the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society. It’s quite the mouthful and P.S., have you seen his teeth?

It goes without saying that Dr. Severs’ lengthy education demonstrates the dedication, passion, and commitment he holds for both the practice in orthodontics and the values his grandpa taught him in what it takes to be a successful business owner. 

Somehow Severs managed to cut out some time away from his love of dentistry and his time consuming education to find the real love of his life. While completing his residency in Kansas City, he met his wife, Makenzie. They are expecting their first child in July, and he couldn’t be any happier when telling me that part of his story.

After stuffing my face with that delicious burger, and really hoping I didn’t have anything in my teeth, I asked Dr. Severs the uncomfortable question about what his take is on the common stereotype that “all orthodontists want to get your kids in braces young, so they’ll have to do it a second time … you know for more money.”

He smiled and made me feel at ease by saying he was glad that I asked about it.

“This is something I am pretty passionate about because I’m not going to try to sell anybody treatment that they don’t need. I like to start seeing patients around 7-8 years of age just for a check up. I know lot of people think if they bring their kids in when they’re seven years old I am going to start charging, but that is not true. I really try to wait until that 11-,12- or 13-year range mark to start treatment depending on how fast kids are growing and developing. If we start treatment too early that leads to orthodontic burnout, which is a real thing. Nobody wants braces or wire on longer than they have to. Prolonged treatment leads to patients not brushing their teeth as well and then it leads to cavities and white spots and decay. Extended treatment means more pokey wires and broken brackets. More orthodontics also means more missed school for kids and work for the parents. So, I really like to stay out of the mouth as long I possibly can. I am definitely a big fan of checking out patients at an early age (that seven-year mark) so we can make sure that they’re headed down the right path. And all that is complimentary. Nobody owes me a dollar until we actually start treatment. I really try to hold off until it’s absolutely necessary to get started.” 

The American Association of Orthodontics suggests that everyone see a licensed orthodontist by the age of seven.

He then went on to explain the different categories to divide braces into. Phase 1 is for kids in that 7–10-year age range that might have a specific problem that treatment is trying to correct early on and eliminate something that would develop into something much more significant as they age. He said that 90 percent of his patients that are seen for an evaluation for phase 1 do not require treatment and they just put them on a growth and development check schedule, all complimentary until actual treatment starts. If phase 1 is needed, it usually lasts one year and then we will evaluate for a phase 2 of treatment once all of the permanent teeth are in, usually around 12 years of age. If phase 1 is not needed, we will begin a comprehensive treatment once all the permanent teeth are in place.

My daughter is at the comprehensive or phase 2 stage, and it was time to take her into the Doc for our free consultation. It was also an opportunity to check out this state of the art, newly renovated office that I’ve heard so much about. Our very own Ashley Conrad’s hubby Luke had a hand in the renovation, so I knew the bones were solid.

The building is spacious, beautiful and so clean.

The consultation was a smooth process that took under an hour. Nicole Hesse, the Treatment Coordinator took X-rays and Dr. Severs took some photographs. They both made both mom and daughter feel completely at ease. They thoroughly explained to me in layman’s terms the treatment plan and the cost. I had done my homework and was shocked when the price was significantly cheaper than anything I had been quoted before, especially when as time goes on, everything increases in price. We left feeling confident, both in the plan and her future even more perfect smile.

Mayla is all smiles.

Like Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Severs has arrived to clean up the town. And while he might not be here to disarm the cowboys, this modern take on a classic story is much more meaningful for the moms and dads of the Q: another local and reliable option for smile symmetry.  

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone”. Holliday was trained as a dentist before he became a gambler and gunslinger.

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