Dr Nic Anderson, BDS
How did I get here?
Growing up I was always the good kid, always doing what I was told and following all the rules – there was no way I would ever break them.
I'm the first to admit I was the nerdy kid, top of the class, playing all the sports and being the very best that I could be. At a young age I was touted for playing both cricket and soccer for New Zealand.
I was a star!
At 13 I was the captain of the winning National cricket team representing Central Districts and our school won the National Cricket Championships.
In my 3rd and 4th form I won numerous academic awards.
Now the reason I am telling you this is not to gloat and say how wonderful I was but that at the age of 13 and 14 things started to go wrong for me.
Age 13, I began having trouble sleeping, often waking up (or more accurately forcing myself out of bed!) with no energy. My school work started to suffer as I couldn't concentrate and I could no longer compete as well on the sports field. I even started getting detentions for always being late to school - I was exhausted!
At the time, I thought I had just become lazy, but on reflection was there something else going on?
It was around that time I visited my local orthodontist due to a cross bite on my front tooth (the upper tooth was sitting behind the lower tooth). They recommended I have braces to correct this. Now back in the 80's there was no internet or Dr Google, so the person in the white coat was always trusted and never questioned. As well as the braces the orthodontist recommended that I have 4 adult premolar teeth extracted as part of my treatment. This broke my mother’s heart but since that was the "ONLY" way we went ahead...
After 2 years of braces, my teeth were straight. I started snoring and my energy levels were at an all-time low.Photos of me at that time show me always with my mouth hanging open and dark circles under my eyes – a classic sign of a chronic mouth breather.
Fast forward to when I started Dental School and a tutor told me that I had the worst teeth in the class. "What did he mean? I had braces for 2 years and my parents paid a lot of money for my teeth!"
From that moment, I started to question everything.
During dental training, we would go around the class examining everyone else's teeth. I noticed that those who had braces didn't have the best teeth; the ones with the best teeth had never had any orthodontic treatment at all. How was this possible?
At the Dental School we did an orthodontic paper. All I was taught was how to write a good referral letter to an orthodontist (in fact this was our exam question) and that “functional orthodontics” was the quackery and beware of any “crazy” dentists doing this treatment.
My first dental job out of school was with a dentist in Palmerston North. On my first day he started showing me some orthodontic cases he was doing, he was even doing this “functional orthodontics”!
I almost walked out on the spot, but when I started looking at his cases; no extractions, using plates to correct bites, good facial improvement - I was very impressed.
This moment changed me forever as I now knew that there was another way of doing orthodontics and that maybe if I'd had this type of treatment I wouldn’t have the health issues I have now.
Since this time, I have been trying to reverse my teenage orthodontic treatment (which is close to 15 years now). I have tried everything I know - jaw expansion; I have re-opened my previous tooth extraction spaces and now wear a partial denture to replace these teeth. I have now had braces about 4 times!
Currently I'm even contemplating going to the US to undergo double jaw surgery in an attempt to bringing my jaws forward to open my airway – my airway is the size of a straw!
All because I still can’t nose breathe, I snore and I have obstructive sleep apnoea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a serious health issue with increased chances of heart disease, stroke and cancer – so it’s pretty serious.
This all brings me to why I am here, doing dental differently at Alpers;
I do this as I don’t want any child going through what I have gone through.
I want to straighten kid’s teeth but in a way that doesn’t reduce the size of their airways.
I want all patients to be nose breathers by the time that they've finished treatment with us.
And lastly, I want them to become healthy adults and to live long, happy lives.
So in Summary: My why – I want to help kids grow to be healthy adults, and of course with a lovely smile.
This is my story - It’s more than just straight teeth! Anyone can straighten teeth but not everyone can improve a person’s life.