Office Visit: Dr. Carlin Weaver by Kyle Patton, associate editor

Office Visit: Dr. Carlin Weaver 

by Kyle Patton, associate editor
photography by Olivia Falcigno

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.

Every year, we select one Townie at random from those who completed ballots in the Townie Choice Awards to win our grand prize: a $1,000 check and the chance to be featured in an Office Visit profile and appear on the cover of Orthotown magazine. This year’s winner, Dr. Carlin Weaver of Weaver Orthodontics in Swampscott, Massachusetts, is a boardcertified and award-winning orthodontist.

Weaver took the reins of her father’s practice in 2015 after an esteemed academic program at Tufts University, where she was at the top of her dental school program and president of her residency class. Since then, she’s earned the “Ten Under Ten” award from the Massachusetts Dental Society, graced the pages of Boston magazine as a “Top Dentist” for five consecutive years and in January became a faculty member at her alma mater.

Her practice still carries the torch her father lit in 1978, but Weaver has made the office her own with great investments in education and technology, including a passion for airways and aligners. Read on to see how this Townie melded her father’s old-school, patient-first approach with a healthy mix of new-age tools to build one of the most thriving offices in New England.

Office Highlights

Dr. Carlin Weaver

Graduated from:
Tufts University

Practice name:
Weaver Orthodontics
Swampscott, Massachusetts

Practice size:
1,600 square feet;
5 chairs, 1 consult room

Team size:

How did you find your way into orthodontics?

My dad! I saw how happy and content he was in his life and figured some of that had to do with job satisfaction.

People often ask if it was something I’d known my whole life, but the thought did not occur to me until I’d almost graduated from college. I graduated with a degree in psychology and sociology, knowing I wanted to work with and help people. As I was considering psychology graduate school, I realized that knowing myself, the lack of concrete resolution in psychology and the emotional investment I would make in my patients’ well-being may not be the best for my well-being and mental health.

While I was contemplating how to spend the rest of my life, one of my friends said, “Why don’t you become an orthodontist like your dad?” and I was finally able to see what had been in front of me the whole time. A mere nine years later, I joined my dad in practice. (Thanks for waiting for me, Dad!) I feel grateful and lucky to be in a profession that allows me to work with people, help people and see the fruits of my labor. My hat still goes off to all the psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists out there, though—thank you for everything you do. I’m not sure we would have made it through the past few years without you!

You joined your dad in practice and now you’re his boss! What was it like coming into his practice and carrying the torch?

I couldn’t be luckier or have been more set up for success. I joined the practice in 2015 and purchased it from him in 2017. My dad opened his office in 1978 and worked for 40 years serving our community. He had a team of four people with an average tenure of 30 years, which tells you what kind of a person he is.

When I joined the practice, guns blazing, ready to set the world on fire, my dad would repeatedly say to me, “Just be nice to people and you’ll be fine.” He’s never been one to go for fancy marketing tactics or the latest and greatest technology, so to say we had different ideas on how to run the business would be an understatement. The first few years drove me crazy! I’d tell him how we needed to upgrade this or that, have more lunches with dentists, hire more team members, formalize our protocols, etc., and he’d smile and tell me, “Just be nice to people, and you’ll be fine.”

Seven years later and I think it’s finally starting to sink in: I love the technology, the marketing and the hustle, but our practice is living proof that his sentiment is true. Almost every day I’ll see a parent he treated or a former patient, and they’ll ask me, “How’s your dad? He’s the best! Tell him I say hello.” It fills me with pride, and I never tire of hearing it. Our mission statement is to continue spreading his legacy, his leadership and his love.

He is mostly retired now and spends most of his time in Key West, Florida, with my mom. When he’s home and comes into the office, it’s like a celebrity appearance! Everyone perks up and can’t help but smile more. He takes care of the fish tank, fixes all the odds and ends, and always has an anecdote to share with the front desk. Our days are always a bit brighter when Dr. Buck shows up.

You’ve earned a few accolades, including the Ten Under Ten award from the Massachusetts Dental Society, and you’re practically a regular in Boston magazine’s Top Dentist category. Tell us how you’ve made the impact you have.

I love being part of a community, a team and an organization. Getting involved with the Massachusetts Dental Society and my local district was a no-brainer for me upon graduation. It’s quite a shock to go from being surrounded by your friends and colleagues every day to being the only doctor in an office. Getting involved allowed me to meet the dentists in my area and start developing friendships and professional relationships.

You were recently asked to join the orthodontic department at your alma mater, Tufts University. What made you decide to start teaching?

In the back of my mind, I always thought I might want to teach, but I figured it would be in another 20 years, once I was winding down my practice and looking for something else to fill my days. I will forever be grateful to Tufts for my education, for the professional relationships developed, for forming me into the orthodontist I am today, and for the lifelong friendships created at 1 Kneeland Street. When the orthodontic program director called me this past summer, I was flattered but told him I didn’t have any time and to call me in five years. I hung up the phone ... and couldn’t get the thought out of my mind. I love the university setting, the collegiality, the shared knowledge, the fact that there is always so much to learn.

I shared the news with my nondentist friend (who once told me I needed to stop talking about teeth at a social function) and she said, “So, you’d get to talk about orthodontics with people who actually want to talk about orthodontics?! Seems like a dream job for you.” It was a no-brainer. I joined the clinical faculty in January and am so happy and proud to be back at Tufts.

A while back, you hired a consultant. Plenty of orthodontists who are on the fence about doing this might benefit from hearing your experience. What came out of it?

You don’t know what you don’t know. I’m a hardcore continuing education fan and I learn something new from every single lecture, webinar or conference I attend. Every successful strategy, scripting or protocol I’ve implemented is because I’ve learned it from someone else—from Orthotown members, the Women in Orthodontics conference, Orthopreneurs, AAO sessions, Facebook groups, study clubs and the like. I thought a consultant was the next natural step. I wanted to wait until I had a solid team in place before bringing in someone who had a bird’s-eye view of the industry, who could see things to which we’d become blind and who could help us fine-tune our systems and protocols. I’ve been working with Stacey at Shimmin Consulting, and it’s very helpful to have the support and another set of eyes on everything.

What do you accredit for the tremendous practice growth you’ve had in the past seven years? What worked for you that might work for others?

Where do I start?! Pouring my heart and soul into the business. Giving it everything I have. Continuing education. Learning from others. Trying things and seeing what works and what fails. Hiring people. Firing people. Make sure we’re delivering exceptional customer service at all times (which is sometimes at odds with the right “business” decision). Having an incredible support system with friends and family who manage my website, help me with marketing, design my pamphlets, listen to me talk about work and support me endlessly. Finding the right team members (which is a never-ending process) who believe in you, support you, and bring excitement and enthusiasm to the office. Orthotown, social media and Facebook groups providing instant connection and the ability to learn from so many great minds. An incredible group of female colleagues in the Boston area with which I can be open, honest and vulnerable. A lot of gray hair that represents my hard work!

What is your favorite clinical tech under your roof and what are you most excited to buy next?

I couldn’t live without my iTero scanners. Lately, I’ve been most excited about Invisalign First. With the right patient, we can achieve amazing correction with minimal in-office appointments and maximum patient comfort. It’s fascinating to see what we can do with aligners at this age. The teeth move so quickly, and you can get some impressive arch development.

Next up is LightForce. We just had our first training, and everyone is excited to start using them. I’m ready to up our braces game and bring braces into the 21st century with digital, customized brackets! It’s wild to think about how in just a few years, we’ll have gone from traditional brackets to prepackaged, prepasted brackets, to 3D-printed customized brackets.

What clinical area are you most passionate about?

The Boston University Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symposium opened my eyes to the airway in 2017. After that, I wanted to learn everything I could about our role as orthodontists and how we could help. Drs. Rebecca Bockow and Audrey Yoon have done so much for our specialty to help educate and spread the word. I can only imagine how many thousands of children’s lives have been and will be positively affected because of these women. I have seen firsthand how early intervention with orthodontics, a knowledgeable ENT and a myofunctional therapist can change a child’s life.

I’m excited to see more research being done about tongue ties and the impact that can have on a child’s growth and development. It is a sorely overlooked area in both the dental and medical professions. I’m shocked at the number of ties I see that have clearly affected speech and jaw growth, and yet have gone unaddressed for years. Many thanks to my airway mentors, Dr. Bockow and Dr. Mo Khuta, for always answering my messages and texts and helping me!

Break down your management style, office workflow, and team lineup for us. What has been working for you?

My right hand is my treatment coordinator, Alicia, and my left hand is my clinical coordinator, Sarah. I am grateful to have these women as part of my team. They support me, help me execute my ideas and understand the way I think.

I have four clinical assistants: Kelly, Kristina, Carmen and Jo Ann. Kelly, who has been with the practice for more than 30 years, is incredibly loyal, dependable, genuine and kind, and a great resource for when we have former patients come in.

Leticia and Megan, my dynamic duo in the front, are always the first to rock a festive headband and greet patients with a warm smile.

I am so appreciative of my team. I could not practice without them. They embody our practice’s core values, bring passion to their jobs and make me proud. For better or worse, every team member is an extension of you; they’re representing your name, your work and your brand. Finding the right people and putting them in the right positions feels like winning the lottery!

Top Products

iTero scanner and Invisalign clear aligners. Learning how to work and excel with aligners has helped set me apart in the community, expand my adult patient population and become a better orthodontist.

DentalMonitoring patient communication software. I love the efficiency, patients love the technology and it supports our core value of exceptional customer service. Patients love having the ability to chat with us at their convenience, and it allows for more flexible scheduling. When I’m working on a refinement, I can review the weekly scans to gain insight into compliance, attachment design, tooth movement, hygiene, etc.

OrthoFi patient financing. Being able to outsource our financing has been instrumental in helping me grow the practice. I don’t have to stress about one team member being responsible for the finances or worry about cross-training or what happens if they leave. Now I have a whole financial team working for my office! I love the technology, the data it gives me and how easy it is for patients to use. It’s not perfect, but I’m doubtful I’ll ever go back to having an in-house financial coordinator.

Carriere 3D Motion Appliance from Henry Schein Orthodontics. It never ceases to amaze me (with a compliant patient) how quickly a Class I molar can be obtained!

As a CE junkie who hadn’t been able to get her fix during the pandemic, what sort of courses are you most excited to get back to attending?

Oh, I still got my fix! It was just from the comfort of my cozy couch instead of inside a chilly conference room. My first in-person conference post-COVID was Orthopreneurs, in October, and it did not disappoint.

I decided at last year’s conference to bring my whole team with me this year. One of our core values is to have a growth mindset and it’s time to take it to the next level. So far, I have the whole team signed up for Ortho Evolution in July and Orthopreneurs in September.

I’m always excited and reenergized after a conference, and I know my team will feel the same way. I can’t wait to hear all their ideas and what they learn! I do not doubt it will help the practice improve and serve our patients better, and therefore I know it will be a great investment.

You’re a believer in the power of meditation. What’s the trick?

Ha! If I knew, I’d tell you. Just get on the cushion and do your best. It’s not easy, but sometimes, for a few seconds, it works: You forget all about starts and conversion rates and staffing issues and you remember how beautiful and awe-inspiring this world is. Meditation reminds me how much there is to be grateful for, and what matters in life.

I think we’ve all had a collective realization the past few years of what truly matters—of what our priorities are, or perhaps should be. Recognizing that work cannot, and should not be, our entire life, while at the same time realizing how lucky we are to be in the orthodontic profession. Orthodontics and running a business is a job that allows us to give people the confidence to smile, that gives us the chance to giggle with a 7-year-old patient and ease his or her fears, to develop meaningful relationships with our team members, and allows us to do what matters most to all humans: to develop connections with other people. Meditation helps keep me centered and reminds me how grateful I am for this life.

What is your mission statement? What are your core values?

I’d had “create a mission statement and core values” on my to-do list for about five years before I finally got around to doing it. I used the time we were closed in 2020 to read Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why and formalize our mission statement and core values. It helped me clarify and articulate why I want the office to run a certain way, what that means and how we achieve it. I realized all I really wanted to do in life was make people feel good and spread kindness and positivity. One of the things I loved about waitressing was I got to interact with people and bring them food. What could make someone happier?

Our mission is to make people feel good by spreading kindness, happiness and positivity.

Our core values are exceptional customer service, friendly professionalism, positivity and kindness, teamwork, having a growth mindset, gratitude and fun. My proudest moments are when we get a Google review that highlights these areas, and as we read it aloud my team shouts out, “Those are our core values!” The power of human connection and the impact one interaction can have on a person never ceases to amaze me. As my dad would say, “Just be nice to people.”

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