MINT HILL, NC – While crooked teeth are endearing on the jack-o-lanterns you’ll see dotting front porches around Mint Hill during this time of year, they’re often a point of embarrassment for both kids and adults alike. For this reason, Dr. Jared Little (or “Dr. Jared” as his patients call him) opened Mint Hill Orthodontics in May of this year to get to work straightening teeth and boosting confidence for Mint Hill residents of all ages.
Little and his small-but-mighty team say they’ve received a warm welcome from the community since they opened their doors.
“Mint Hill has been awesome. People have been so nice and welcoming. They’ve really embraced us,” Little says.
After three years spent working at another orthodontics practice, Little, 31, decided to open his own office on Cresthill Drive, in the same plaza as Gracious Nails and right next to the new Chick-fil-A. Opening a new business in a pandemic feels like a tall order, especially with the various supply chain issues at play, but Little says they managed to steer clear of any significant roadblocks during the buildout .
“We were fortunate in that we didn’t run into major problems, like with lumber shortages. We dealt with some of the typical supply chain stuff as far as choosing lighting and what was available, but mainly it was about making the best decisions we could so we could complete the office on time. It required a watchful eye,” he says.
Though his passion for the field might convince you otherwise, Little doesn’t come from a long line of orthodontists. In fact, his family owned a bike shop when he was growing up in Michigan. While there isn’t an inherent link between bikes and braces, Little explains the family business actually helped lead him to his current vocation.
“There were lots of little tools around when I was growing up,” he says. “I really loved fixing things and making stuff right. You’d build a wheel, check to see if it’s straight, then make an adjustment to fix it. With orthodontics, I really liked the mechanics of braces, brackets, wires, and moving teeth. I like setting up bites and smiles.”
But to Little, the job is about more than just nailing the aesthetics of someone’s grin. There’s an important emotional component, too.
“Your smile is often the first thing people notice, so this is an investment. Kids that smile more tend to do better. They tend to have more confidence. An investment into self esteem, whether it’s your own or your child’s, that’s the best investment you can make,” Little says.
For those of us who hear “braces” and instantly recall the clunky brackets and painful wires of our youth, Little is here to reassure you that the experience has evolved significantly in recent years. Cue a sigh of relief.
“Advancements in technology have allowed braces to become smaller. We’re able to give a more comfortable treatment, often over a shorter period of time, and still see great results. Our office is very digital. We try to streamline processes, and our patients’ comfort and time are the most important things,” Little says.
Beyond just the more traditional braces you’re probably familiar with, Mint Hill Orthodontics also offers Invisalign, which is a series of clear aligners that straighten teeth without the conspicuous appearance of brackets and wires. Invisalign aligners look similar to the type of retainer that you’d wear to keep your teeth from shifting when your orthodontic treatment is complete. Little is in the top one percent of Invisalign providers in the country.
Though he clearly believes in the effectiveness of the system, he says he doesn’t push it on patients. In fact when it comes to choosing your preferred orthodontic option, Little says he’s glad to provide guidance during a free consultation.
During the consultation, he talks patients through the best option for them based on budget, goals, and lifestyle. For example, he explains, Invisalign is typically not a great fit for a child who tends to have trouble keeping track of school papers and other belongings, as they may end up losing their Invisalign aligners, too. Helping patients and their families to recognize this upfront saves everyone time, money, and aggravation.
On the flip side, a person who wants to have straighter teeth but is embarrassed about sporting a mouth packed with metal will probably love the Invisalign option.
Regardless of your preferred orthodontia pick, Dr. Little notes that there’s no right or wrong way to get a straighter smile.
“Ultimately we’re just focused on getting the best outcomes for our patients,” he says. “I can get somebody to where they want to be with either tool, but we want to make it as easy as possible for you to complete your treatment and feel comfortable as you do it.”