Office Visit: Dr. Anthony Anyadike by Kyle Patton, associate editor

Office Visit: Dr. Anthony Anyadike 

by Kyle Patton, associate editor
photography by Briscoe Savoy

Orthodontists spend most of their working hours inside their own practices, so they usually don’t get many opportunities to see what it’s like inside another doctor’s office. Orthotown’s recurring Office Visit profile offers a chance for Townies to meet their peers, hear their stories and get a sense of how they practice.

Dr. Anthony Anyadike has been practicing orthodontics longer than most Townies have been alive, and he’s seen a thing or two in his tenure. For more than three decades, Anyadike has been a staple of the Glen Burnie, Maryland, community, not to mention the neighboring Washington, D.C., families that have been coming to his office for generations. Anyadike’s practice, Greenway Orthodontics, is a South Atlantic classic both in feel and administration: compact yet laid-back, direct yet hospitable, inclusive yet specialized.

In this month’s Office Visit, we hear from Anyadike about his harrowing experience surviving and escaping civil war in Nigeria, his emigration thousands of miles away to continue his education and reshape his future, how he’s turned his practice into a miniature United Nations, and how an old-school doc can still thrive in a world where ortho competition is never at a shortage.

Office Highlights

Dr. Anthony Anyadike

Howard University College of Dentistry

Greenway Orthodontics,
Glen Burnie, Maryland

Staff size:

With more than 30 years in the area, you’ve got serious tenure in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region. Tell us about your first year and your most recent year in practice.

I started moonlighting as a general dentist part-time about one year before ortho school graduation, so I was happy when a large GP practice asked me to sign an exclusive contract to work as their orthodontist. I, of course, had no idea what I was signing up for.

They had for years done removable and cemented spring-appliance ortho and insisted that I do that for their adult patients. They were also not willing to invest in up-to-date ortho supplies; I was expected to use what they had, except for ties, power chains, etc. I stuck it out for the duration, and found many dentists asking me to give them one day here and there to come see their ortho patients in their offices. I accepted a few situations, with no exclusive contracts this time. This had me traveling all over the D.C. and Maryland area to see patients. I went to some offices once a week, some once or twice per month. The variety was refreshing but the downside was, again, not always having preferable supplies and working with technicians who weren’t trained in orthodontics, when one was lucky enough to have them.

The past 14 years, however, have been very different. At the insistence of my better half, we opened our practice in Glen Burnie with the mission to serve the underserved and everyone else who walks through our doors. It is, and has been, a very rewarding experience. I should have started many years before. We bought orthodontic supplies and equipment with a vengeance!

When I got out of school in 1981, orthodontists happily worked without gloves and thought nothing of it. You just washed your hands between patients. I also remember that there were strict and enforced rules about advertising. I knew of a few local dentists consistently in court with the state dental society because of their large, flagrant ads in the Yellow Pages.

We’d love to hear about your childhood and your formative years. You have a unique background and perspective coming from Nigeria before moving to the United States. Tell us about growing up and what eventually led to your interest in orthodontics.

My mother died when I was 2 years old. I went to live with my maternal uncle and his wife, who raised me as their own until many years later when they were blessed with their own biological children.

I went to Catholic elementary and high schools. I was an altar boy and sang in the choir, and naturally was groomed by the priests and nuns into looking forward to becoming a priest myself ... but because I read voraciously as a child and teenager, I found it difficult to believe in dogmas. I believed that I had to find my own interpretation of things, so I declined my admission to a seminary and chose to pursue higher education.

In my first year, Biafra, my regional area of Nigeria, seceded from the conflagration that was Nigeria, and we were plunged into civil war for almost four years. Four years of death for both sides and inhumane, mortal starvation for Biafrans.

A year after the war, I made it to Eugene, Oregon, where I studied for my degree in biology. Less than four years later, I drove to D.C. through Chicago to start dental school and went on to finish my ortho specialty at the same school, Howard University.

Tell us about your “Orthodontic United Nations.”

Our team came together over the first four years and has stayed pretty much the same over the past 10 years. We have had replacements for people who went off to further their education, to raise new families—and at least two stayed home after the COVID-19 reopening to home-school, etc.—but like the diverse community that we serve, members of our team speak many languages.

Some of our patients refer to us as the United Nations because we speak so many languages: French, Korean, Arabic, Ibo, Twi, Urdu, Pashtun, Moroccan, Spanish and, of course, English. We have first-, second- and third-generation immigrants. It feels good as a patient to be welcomed in the language you grew up with or speak at home when you walk through our doors.

Your practice’s reviews point to your patients having incredibly positive and personal connections with their treatments. How do you create this feeling?

Every individual is exactly that—an individual. One has to figure what their treatment expectations and objectives are, educate them as to what is possible, and work with them to approximate those as much as anatomy, compliance, health, economics and all the other factors will allow.

Making it easy for your patient to realize your common humanity and that you understand their concerns—basically, that you care about them and the family members whose orthodontic treatment they may be entrusting you with. If one has chairside manner challenges, it would be best to make sure that one’s team more than makes up the difference.

You have to show patients that you and your whole team are there to take care of them and enhance their treatment experience. Over the years, you also realize that you have to modify and adapt academic and clinical principles for the best possible outcomes for each case. Things do not always go as planned. Compliance, individual anatomy and physiology are big factors. Don’t be afraid to discuss possible outcome limitations because of individual factors from the outset.

Lastly, a pleasant outlook while one is with patients always comes through, no matter how challenged. A pleasant, cheerful office décor also goes a long way toward putting all parties in a good mood.

Top Products

Transbond Plus Color Change Adhesive (3M). Good, quality bracket bonding!

Scotchbond Universal Adhesive (3M). With this adhesive, we don’t have to worry about obtaining fully dry fields.

Speed Supercable (Speed System Orthodontics). We need these wires for severe rotations and crowding.

Thermal or Heat-Activated NiTi Wires from CX Ortho Supply.

Darby Dental air purifiers, plexiglass barriers and other personal protective equipment products.

What are a couple of your practice’s best assets?

My wife is the group mom and treats everyone like they are family. She mediates any disagreements. We also have only four clinical days a week, so except for lunch we’re busy from the moment we step in the door to when we leave: We huddle in the morning, see our patients, order supplies, do repairs and go home. During the pandemic, we kept in touch with Zoom and WhatsApp, sharing info about ortho and COVID-19.

What’s your favorite patient story?

About 15 years ago, we treated the child of an African billionaire, who used to fly from Europe to keep appointments. We also had an American patient who had business in China. He used to come in once a year to have his removable appliance adjusted. He did this over a period of three years. Our most intriguing story is that of a young lady who started treatment as a high school sophomore. She went away to college in a faraway state and came back for adjustments every one to three years. She finally came in to be debanded after getting her PhD and starting a family. The most amazing thing was that after so many years in braces, she still had healthy hard and soft tissue!

Outside of practice you’re a Renaissance man, dabbling in physics, philosophy, literature, history and more. Your practice philosophy is easy to discern, but what about your philosophy for living?

From the little I know from my years of living on Earth, in my humble opinion no philosopher, religion or science has yet come up with the answers to the great questions of life, but a stable set of beliefs is essential to sanely navigating life’s relentless challenges.

Each conscious being has to kayak through the rivers and sometimes oceans of life, doing the best we can with what knowledge or life skills we have, guided by lessons learned along the way.

Thanks to science, we know that we live on a uniquely life-infested, large mosaic pebble that is hurtling through space along with very many (billions or trillions) of other bodies whose motions are controlled by the forces of gravity. We have no idea whence or heretofore we come and go after life here. The golden rule—to do my best to treat other beings as one would deem it to be treated—seems to yield the most happiness, which we all profess to be in pursuit of.

Let’s talk sports. You’re a big fan of the Ravens and the Orioles, and you’ve been in Maryland long enough to see the ups and downs of both franchises. What memories come to mind when you think of your teams? What players would you love to see walk through your practice door?

I especially enjoyed the playoff runs, and of course the Super Bowl years. We actually had one former Oriole as a patient! Before I moved to Howard County, I lived in D.C. and Prince George’s County, where I followed George Allen and Joe Gibbs and the now Washington Football Team. Their winning years brought true joy to the whole area.

What do you think is the biggest challenge orthodontics will face in the next 5–10 years? What do you think the solution is or could be?

The fact that almost every general dentist is now doing some orthodontics, courtesy of clear aligners, could be a problem for the profession, but we know that they will always refer the complex cases to an orthodontist. We have to continue to educate both the public and the general dentist on the benefits of being treated by an orthodontic specialist.

There is also the fact that orthodontic treatment fees in general—and especially reimbursement fees for Medicaid, insurance-covered, and some PPO/DMO patients—are very minimal and do not reflect the continuously rising cost of essential advancing equipment, staffing, hardware and software for even the basic orthodontic practice..

How do you market your practice? What works? What doesn’t?

When we started out, we spent a lot of money on Yellow Pages, Valpak, school calendars and the like. We stopped using them probably 10 years ago.

We now rely mostly on word-of-mouth. We no longer do any formal advertising; instead, we go to local community health fairs, support local sports teams, and try to buy from local vendors and small businesses.

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