Dr. Amy Gimlen, a board-certified orthodontist, has been in practice in the South Bay since 2006. Her practice was founded by Dr. James Duffin in 1967. Dr. Gimlen joined the practice as an associate doctor and became the owner in 2013.
“Improving the function and esthetics of my patients’ smiles is my job, but striving to help them achieve personal growth and self-confidence keeps me smiling.”
How did you become involved in your charitable organization?
“I became interested in working with children with craniofacial birth differences after studying them in dental school. My first exposure to the care of kids with birth differences correlated with the mouth and face was in dental school on the UCLA craniofacial team, where I did research. This experience ignited my passion—not only could I improve the functionality of people’s bites, improve self-confidence and the esthetic smiles of people without any craniofacial differences, but I could make an even bigger impact on kids and families who have been affected with a large variety of craniofacial differences. During my residency at USC I earned a master’s degree in craniofacial biology and was able to further study the development of the head and face and learn when and why differences occur. At the time I looked forward to someday treating such complicated patients.”
Why did you join this orthodontic practice?
“In looking for a practice in the South Bay, I met Dr. Duffin (the founder of the practice) and Dr. Adams. It was an instant fit. Dr. Duffin also had a passion for treating kids with a variety of craniofacial differences and served on the cleft palate/craniofacial team at St. Johns. The doctors invited me to join the practice as an associate doctor and to join the team at St. Johns. Dr. Duffin and Dr. Adams still act as my mentors to this day.”
Tell us more about the craniofacial team.
“The cleft palate/craniofacial team at St. Johns is a group of professionals who meet once a month to see patients in a group setting—minimizing doctors visits in order to provide exceptional patient care. During one visit the patient is able to see an orthodontist, a pedatric dentist, a nurse, a pediatrician, a plastic surgeon, a speech therapist, a social worker, an ENT, an audiologist and a geneticist. The team members see each patient and do a comprehensive evaluation, then meet together to come up with the best course of action for each patient.”
What type of patients do you treat?
“There has been such a shift in focus in orthodontics over the years. For so long orthodontics was thought to be only for kids and for esthetic reasons. However, with biological research and technological advancements, we have learned that people of all ages can benefit from investing in orthodontic treatment at any age. At my practice we treat children as well as many adults. As a specialist, I also see patients with complicated orthodontic needs. The most commonly known craniofacial difference is cleft lip/palate, but that only scratches the surface of the types of birth differences that we treat. I have treated patients with Pierre Robin, Treacher Collins syndrome, cleidocranial dysplasia (like the boy on Stranger Things) … just to name a few.”
Who influenced you to become a philanthropist?
“My mother is my inspiration! She has dedicated her life to fundraising and running a camp for children with physical disabilities called Youth Rally. She has run the camp for more than 30 years and has a made a difference in thousands of children’s lives—teaching them that they are not alone and that a perceived ‘disability’ can be turned into a ‘different-ability.’ My parents have always imparted a sense of making a difference in the life of a child and leaving the world a better place than how they found it.”
What’s most rewarding about your work?
“I love the relationship I have with my patients and families. Watching people go from not smiling because they weren’t confident with their teeth to shining when they smile is the most rewarding to me in both cleft and other cases. I am treating several families where not only the kids are in treatment but both mom and dad are also. I take time to explain treatment step-by-step and make treatment as simple as it can be for everyone. Improving the function and esthetics of my patients’ smiles is my job, but striving to help them achieve personal growth and self-confidence keeps me smiling.”
Featured Charity: St. Johns Hospital Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Team | 310-829-8150