Spokane Journal of Business

Damon orthodontist family sees success with own system

Method used worldwide; creator's son says more adults opt to fix smiles

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Damon orthodontist family sees success with own system
-—Staff photo by Chey Scott
Orthodontist Dr. Paul Damon estimates more than 2 million people worldwide have been treated using the Damon System for braces.

A Spokane family of orthodontists says it's seeing success both here and around the world with a form of orthodontic treatments it has developed and promoted over about the last 15 years.

Dr. Paul Damon says his father, Dr. Dwight Damon, designed a system of braces, called the Damon System, with the idea that there had to be an easier, less invasive way to move and straighten teeth than the traditional bracket and rubber-banded arch wire style of braces.

Damon says his father wanted to design a braces bracket—the metal piece that's attached to the tooth—that was self-ligating bracket, meaning that instead of rubber bands there is a little metal gate on the bracket that closes over the wire, allowing it to move freely between the brackets.

"We can move teeth using less force on each tooth, and even though there is less force, we see teeth respond better and time in treatment is shorter," he says. "We also don't have to see patients as often, because it eliminates the need to have the braces tightened."

Damon says the rights to use the Damon System, for which his father holds a patent, is sold to orthodontic practices globally.

Those other users of the Damon System then are trained on the system's techniques and how to treat their patients with it, he says. The metal brackets that go directly onto the patients' teeth are manufactured outside of Spokane by an orthodontic component manufacturer, he says. Other clinics that have been schooled in how to correctly use the Damon System purchase the various parts through that company, he adds.

Damon estimates that more than 2 million people worldwide have been treated using the Damon System.

Of the users of the Damon System here, Paul Damon says that he and his cousin, Dr. Clay Damon, who also practices here, now are seeing more adults opting to receive that form of orthodontic braces.

Damon says he believes that increasing trend is because the Damon System can achieve results in less time than traditional braces, and because patients can opt for a clear bracket, making the braces on their teeth less noticeable.

He estimates that between his Spokane Valley practice, his cousin's practice on the North Side, and a South Hill office they own together, which opened about a year ago at 4102 S. Regal, about 35 percent of all of their patients are adults.

"With the clear bracket it's not as ominous for adults having the big metal brackets on for two years," he says. "There has been a higher demand from adults seeking treatment than there ever has been."

He adds that he's seen that shift in patient demographics occur mostly during the last decade and expects the number of adults getting the Damon System braces will continue growing in the coming years.

Still, he says the majority of orthodontic patients likely will continue to start braces treatments in their pre-teen or teen years.

Damon says the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist at around age 7 to evaluate their possible future need for braces. He says it's hard to pinpoint an average age of when most people get braces if it's during their childhood, because it varies from patient to patient.

While the Damon System braces brackets come in both a clear and silver metal version, Damon says the wire, made of lightweight titanium, still is somewhat visible on a patient's teeth.

The only difference for a patient who chooses the clear brackets over a metal bracket is cost, he says, since the clear brackets cost slightly more.

Damon says the cost of treatment using the Damon System is comparable to traditional braces, but varies depending on how long a patient needs to wear them and if there are any other supplemental treatments or procedures needed.

The practice's website lists a cost range for braces treatment of between $3,800 and $8,000. Damon says that the cost of braces has risen in the last decade or so, but not by as much as other medical expenses. He says many insurance companies provide coverage for part of the cost of braces.

The braces parts used in the Damon System are more expensive than traditional hardware, but typically, fewer office appointments are required, and that helps bring the overall treatment cost in line with conventional braces, he says.

Other differences in the Damon System braces when compared with traditional braces are that the brackets that are attached to a patient's back molars—called bands—don't go all the way around the tooth, but are attached to the side of the tooth like the other brackets.

The bands in traditional braces that go on the back molars can contribute to gum recession in some patients, Damon says. He says the absence of that component in the Damon System helps to prevent serious gum recession, as well as other damage to soft tissues in the mouth during treatment.

He asserts that for most patients, the Damon System also eliminates the need for any kind of supplemental appliances, such as a palatal arch expander. That kind of device is situated up near the roof of a patient's mouth, and is attached at several points to bands on the patient's teeth. The device applies outward force to help widen the patient's arch area to make space for their teeth.

Many patients who have teeth crowding and are treated by the Damon System also don't have to have healthy teeth extracted to address that crowding, he says.

"The system has changed the treatment plans of patients," Damon asserts. "Now we are able to not only fit all of the teeth within the arch, but because we can move the teeth faster, we don't always have to do expanders—we can accomplish all of that with braces now."

In addition to just straightening teeth and a patient's jaw alignment, Damon says the treatment system developed by his dad also can address more cosmetic issues, such as the width of a patient's smile and his or her overall facial profile.

The average duration for a patient who receives orthodontic treatment through the Damon System usually is somewhere between a year and two years, Damon says.

The Damon family has been practicing orthodontics in the Spokane area for about four decades now, he says. His father established the clinic in Spokane Valley that he now operates about 40 years ago, and around the same time, Damon says, his uncle, Floyd Damon, also entered the industry.

Paul Damon took over his father's Spokane Valley practice, at 12406 E. Mission, when his dad retired several years ago. He says his father still continues to be involved in the family business, but doesn't actively treat patients any longer.

Clay Damon's North Side practice is located in the Northtown Office Building, at 4407 N. Division, and previously had been run by his father, Floyd.

Between their own two offices, Paul Damon estimates that he and Clay Damon employ a total of about 30 people. The employees at each of their separately owned offices also staff the jointly owned South Hill office on the days of the week that each doctor is there. The two split their time between that office and their own offices, Damon adds.

"It's been a family business in Spokane for so long that we have a great following of patients here," he says. "Now we are seeing the second and third generation of patients coming around for treatment."

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