‘There and back’ in business for orthodontist Linda Sheridan
Special to The Union
Dr. Linda Sheridan, DDS, ABO
262 S. Auburn St. Suite A
Dr. Linda Sheridan has been there and back again — literally.
She worked diligently to become one of the most-respected orthodontists in the industry, retired — and now she’s back.
This time around, she hasn’t encountered the gender bias that marked her early career four decades ago.
Hers is the story of a woman pioneer making her mark in an industry dominated by men.
After enrolling in dental school at University of Iowa, Sheridan was one of eight women who graduated.
During the interview to determine if she would be admitted to the post-graduate orthodontics program at UC San Francisco, she was asked point-blank if she had plans for a family.
“They didn’t want to give a spot to a woman who might abandon her career to have children, so I lied. I already had one son, and I told them one was enough,” laughed Sheridan.
She was admitted. During one of her three years in the UCSF program, Sheridan was the only woman in orthodontics school in the nation.
The ink on her diploma was barely dry when Sheridan opened her private practice in Grass Valley in 1981.
She didn’t have a single patient. So she held open houses, advertised, and met with Grass Valley dentists asking them to refer patients.
“One dentist told me, ‘I like your work, presentation and education, but I’ll never recommend you because you’re a woman,’” she recalled.
That dentist never referred a patient to Sheridan, but other general dentists did.
Her practice began to thrive, and she was happily pregnant with her second son.
“One day, I could feel myself starting to go into labor. But I had a full day of patients and couldn’t just go home. A few times I had to slide my chair back away from a patient’s chair and grit my teeth through a contraction,” Sheridan said.
“I called a professional who I had already planned to hire as my first assistant and asked her if she could come in the next day, which she did. I left the office at 5:30 that night and gave birth to my son at 7.”
Most workdays were not that exciting, but they were definitely rewarding. After a few years in practice, Sheridan joined an elite group of orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons called Functional and Cosmetic Excellence. Through FACE, Sheridan completed a two-year program that incorporated comprehensive diagnostics, computer-assisted treatment planning, and a philosophy of treating the entire dental and facial system to promote healthy tissue, efficient chewing, proper lip support and ideal facial balance.
“It’s not enough to just straighten teeth. I consider the patient’s existing smile, jaw function, facial bone structure, and tooth alignment,” explained Sheridan.
“As we age, we lose muscle tone and our lower teeth show more. My treatment planning takes into consideration the aging process, including lip drape and mouth arch.”
Sheridan’s unique arch form has become her art form.
“My distinctive ‘Sheridan Smile’ became a signature statement of the quality of my work,” said Sheridan, who believes she is the only orthodontist in Nevada County utilizing FACE guidelines and training.
Lured by the promise of traveling with friends and having more free time to show her registered Morgan horses, Sheridan retired Dec. 31, 2010.
For five years, she enjoyed a few cruises and continued to win prestigious prizes with her horses. She started a business that rents stall mats to venues hosting horse shows.
She filled in for vacationing orthodontics throughout Northern California, keeping her license and knowledge current.
Then it hit her.
“I realized how much I missed treating a patient from start to finish. I missed the continuity. And when the opportunity arose for me to return to the office building from which I retired, I knew resuming my practice was the right thing to do,” said Sheridan.
First, she contacted her former staff members. All agreed to return, except one who had moved out of state.
On Jan. 4, Sheridan re-opened her practice. Déjà vu: she again had no patients.
But news that she was back in business spread quickly, and once again her practice is thriving.
It also helped that she offers a 25 percent discount to patients who sign a contract by the end of February.
“My intent is to never retire again,” Sheridan stated.
“Perhaps I’ll bring in a younger associate to work with me if, years from now, I decide to cut back. But I definitely flunked retirement.”
Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.
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