Getting to Know You: Jonathan Alexander-Abt, Orthodontist

Jonathan Alexander-Abt is an orthodontist based out of London, United Kingdom, who decided on orthodontics as his ideal profession when he was only 12 years old.

In pursuit of this goal, he devoted himself to a robust education and undertook a demanding career path.

After receiving his formal training in dentistry at the Royal London Hospital, Jonathan enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces, serving as a dentist in the Air Force. When his service ended, he moved to the other side of the world, to New York City, where he taught Anatomy to dental students at the Ivy League Columbia University and to medical students at the prestigious Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Jonathan then became an Orthodontic Resident at New York University, where he completed his postgraduate specialty training in orthodontics, while simultaneously serving as the residents’ representative on the orthodontic programme’s admissions committee.

It was then that Jonathan returned to the UK, earned his Fellowship in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and joined a High Street practice in Hertfordshire as a specialist orthodontist. He also served as a Locum Consultant in Orthodontics at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, treating a wide variety of cases, some of which included patients with cleft palates and patients needing complex jaw surgery.

Jonathan has been published on several occasions in professional periodicals such as the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Most recently, Jonathan participated in primary care research undertaken by the University of Sheffield and presented his element of the research to his peers at the British Orthodontic Society Inaugural Research Day.

After serving as a principal orthodontist running his own practice for many years, Jonathan is now enjoying his role as an associate orthodontist where he is able to focus on patient treatment and care. In his spare time, Jonathan can be found cooking and watching mixed martial arts with his son. He also enjoys taking his dog for walks in the park and weight training.

What do you currently do at your company?

I work as a full-time orthodontist associate. That means I don’t own the practice, though I am the principal orthodontist there. 

What was the inspiration behind your business?

When I was 12 years old, I had braces. That experience is what made me want to become an orthodontist. My orthodontist, Richard Marx, was a very clever man. Through his work on me, I saw the practice married intellectual challenge with medicine, art, and physics. I thought that seemed like a fantastic way to merge those factors into a career.

What defines your way of doing business?

I’m very factual and goal-driven. I prefer to deal with the facts and get on with the job and deliver great results!

What keys to being productive can you share?

Pay attention to the details. If you pay attention to the details, you don’t have to do the work over again. It minimizes the need for emergency appointments and allows the treatment to be smooth.

How do you measure success?

There are a couple of different ways that I measure success. Key is noting the change from a patient’s initial appointment to post-treatment. This is something that is always gratifying and it makes me love what I do. In addition to review sites and forums, another nice measure of patient feedback is when  patients or their parents drop a little something off at the office to show their gratitude. In this regard, it is always the thought that counts and it makes me and our team feel that we have succeeded.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

Make sure the patients and parents are happy. To that end, I’ve also learned another valuable lesson over the years: let the parents be part of the treatment. It makes for the best experience for everyone involved, myself included.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

Get good training. You will get experience; that goes without saying. However, specifically regarding the first patients you treat straight out of school, you will be relying on your training to keep both them and you safe, so get into the best training program that you can.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I prefer to do things like walking my dog in the park, watching mixed martial arts with my son on television, cooking with my son, and working out with weights.

How would your colleagues describe you?

My colleagues see me, I think, as a quiet perfectionist. Or at least, that’s how I see myself and hope my colleagues see me.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

To be honest, I don’t. I do try to keep Saturday free, so that I can go to synagogue in the morning and have some time to myself in the afternoon. I always, however, manage to make time for my son in the afternoons, after I come home from work. He lives in the same apartment building as I do, which makes getting together convenient. But all things considered, my work-life balance is somewhat off-kilter.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

The practice bought an intra-oral scanner which replaces the need to take impressions. Parents and patients alike are impressed by this cutting-edge technology.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

I’m not an overly sociable person and that sometimes makes interactions with patients challenging. However, I have learned a great deal about myself over the years and it has helped me to realize that I need certain people in my corner, like my nurse Muhammad, to help me navigate dealing with social situations with patients to achieve the best outcome for everyone involved.

What does success look like to you?

As I said before, I’m a factual person. I tend to measure success by the numbers. I prefer to look at the changes in my patients between their first appointment and their last to see the quality of the work, which allows me to measure how successful I was in treating their orthodontic needs.