Jonathan Johnson traded the rolling hills of Pennsylvania for the sun and sand of the Cape Region.
"My wife and I came down for a long weekend and loved it," said the Lewes resident and owner of Johnson Orthovdontics in Rehoboth Beach.
Johnson, 39 – almost 40 – grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and attended Bucknell University for his undergraduate degree. He went straight into dental school at University of Pennsylvania and later stayed in Philadelphia for an orthodontic residency at Temple University.
Working in the dental field runs in the Johnson family. "My mom was a dental hygienist. I always liked dentistry and fell in love with orthodontics," Johnson said. "It's not invasive, and I get to know patients over a year or two. I want to create happiness and change lives."
Johnson lived in Philadelphia following dental school, working for an orthodontic group in Bucks County. He also met his wife, Jessica. The couple married in 2009 and visited Rehoboth Beach a month later. The slower, lower life hooked them. "We wanted to be somewhere to raise kids. Day-to-day life is much easier here without the hustle and bustle," he said.
Their timing was perfect. A dentist who Johnson knew told him that the area needed an orthodontist, and he quickly found a 2,500-square-foot office in Beebe Healthcare's Medical Arts Building on Route 24.
A year after opening his practice, the couple had their first child. "Life comes in spurts," said Johnson, whose easygoing personality is a good fit for the beach area. Two years after the couple's first child was born, they had their second, and their third arrived after another two-year interval. "I consider myself very fortunate to have such a loving and supportive wife and three wonderful children," Johnson said.
With his oldest in kindergarten at Shields Elementary, Johnson said he has more time to sponsor local activities such as youth soccer and little league teams. His son plays on a sports team proudly displaying Johnson Orthodontics on a royal blue uniform. "I try to sponsor activities that our clients are involved in, whether it's sports or scouts. I try to contribute to the community," he said.
Getting to know his patients is also a big plus, he said. Over the course of two years treating a patient, he said, he gets to know patients and their families, and create a great bond. He honestly enjoys watching young patients grow up.
Johnson said he sees about 250 new patients a year. The biggest growth has been with adults age 60 and older. "I have a lot of adult patients who are getting the smile they always wanted," he said.
Since opening his practice, Johnson said, the number of adult patients has grown by more than 60 percent. They tend to choose Invisalign – a clear alternative to metal braces. Of course, traditional metal braces are also options, he said, and they come in traditional silver, or with colored or clear pieces.
No matter what a patient chooses, however, the end result is the same: a perfect smile. "When I see how their life changes, that makes it really fun for me," he said.
New technology has made the process even more exciting, he said. Teeth molds are now made by using a device that scans the inside of a patient's mouth, and then sends an image to a 3D printer. A plastic mold of their teeth is created shortly after. No more goo dripping down the back of a patient's throat, like in the days of plaster of paris-type dental molds.
With an amiable personality and welcoming smile, Johnson said he truly enjoys his job and meeting new people. Most of his patients are referred to him word of mouth – no pun intended. "I like the personal connection with patients," he said. "Our team knows we've done what they want when they say to us, 'I'm going to miss coming here.' And we hear that a lot.
"That's our goal, to get their teeth perfect, but give them such a good experience so when they leave they're going to miss it because it was such a positive experience."