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When I first decided on a career in orthodontics, I knew I was heading into a man’s world. That knowledge was even clearer when I became one of two girls in my residency class. With that thought in mind, I held to the motto I’ve always kept close to my heart: If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do my best. As a result, I received the highest scholarship in my orthodontic graduating class. Since then, I’ve had time to evaluate my strengths as a woman in this career, and the main one I believe I bring to the table is empathy. For me, taking the braces off my patients and seeing those big smiles on their faces makes me feel almost as happy as they are in that moment. It’s a wonderfully rewarding part of my job. I think sometimes patients don’t realize that their doctors stay up at night thinking about them and how to better solve their problems, but we do. I really care about my patients and am fully dedicated to helping them achieve their best smile.
All tendencies toward empathy aside, I understand how my patients feel because I too have spent my share of time in the chair. Growing up, I had baby teeth extracted, and wore plenty of rubber bands and braces. While I didn’t love my orthodontist, I did love going to my dentist, and that made a huge impact on me. When I first started in college at the University of California Irvine, I wanted to be a physical therapist. Up until that point, I had spent my whole life dancing—twenty years, in fact. Those twenty years of ballet were wonderful, but I was left with a number of injuries that inspired me to go into physical therapy. As it turned out, the program wasn’t what I’d anticipated, and I realized that my passion laid elsewhere. I began looking at different health professions, knowing that I enjoyed learning about the science and how the body worked. I became hooked on dentistry and, more specifically, orthodontics, because I liked how non-invasive it was. In these professions, I found a way to make people feel more confident without much pain. In my mind, I could also see that there was an art to the work, and that created a new level of fascination that sticks with me even today.
I was beginning my residency at the University of the Pacific when I met Dr. Blom. I had been working in my spare time at the operating room at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, because I had an interest in extreme bite issues. They happen to do the most jaw surgeries in the country, so it was a fantastic opportunity for me, and I learned a great deal. Because they have connections to all the orthodontists in Northern California, I asked who the best was. That was when I was first introduced to Dr. Blom. We developed a friendship while I continued in my residency, and when it came close to graduation, he invited me to come work with him.
While my work and my patients are almost always on my mind, I do have several hobbies, some of which I enjoy doing with my husband, Daniel. He works at Cisco, specializing in video conferencing. His current hobby is doing household improvements (how lucky am I?). As for me, my hobbies include hiking around Lake Tahoe and Auburn, hanging out with our little Persian cat, Abbey, and making jewelry—much of which I love to share with family and friends.
I have now been practicing orthodontics for five years, and I see the importance of perseverance. My goal is to achieve the best results possible and increase the number of patients I see so I can help more people achieve their own goals through increased confidence. I aspire to do things right. If I can do that, then I have succeeded!
Dr. Andrea DeLurgio