Dentist follows family tradition

When Dr. Aaron Molen was a young boy he wanted to grow up to be just like his dad.

And he did.

Now, eight months after becoming an orthodontist, he’s following in his father’s footsteps as part of the Molen Orthodontics team that consists of his father, Dr. Bruce Molen, and his brother, Dr. Richard “Rick” Molen.

He’s gaining a steady clientele among the office’s approximately 100 daily patients in their Auburn, Sumner and Enumclaw offices, where each are able to care for 33 patients.

“That allows us to spend quality time with each one,” he said.

Molen, a 1995 Auburn High graduate, said he’s pleased to be back in the Puget Sound area where he was raised.

“I love it,” he said. “Seattle and South King County have always been my home. I can’t explain how fun it is to work with my dad and brother every day.”

Following in his father’s footsteps took 11 years of schooling; his degrees include a bachelor of science in zoology in 2001 from Brigham Young University; a doctor of dental surgery in 2005 from Loma Linda University; and a master of oral biology and certificate in orthodontics in June from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He continues to serve as chief resident with the UCLA’s Section of Orthodontics, where he flies south monthly to lecture on the use of three-dimensional dentistry.

“It’s using technology as part of a treatment plan for a patient,” he said of the new technology. “We have 3-D X-rays that can turn around to look at a tooth.”

His forte in three-demensional imaging quickly caught the attention of the orthodontic world. He presented a lecture on the subject in Playa Herradura, Costa Rica, a year ago and in September at Jiao Tong University, Shanghai China and a year earlier in Playa Herradura, Costa Rica. In May he’ll lecture in Boston with staff from the American Association of Orthodontists.

Between his studies, Molen married Melody in 2000. Two years ago the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Kaya, and are expecting their second child in the fall.

It wasn’t difficult to choose to follow in his dad’s footsteps, he said.

“To me, family is very important,” he said. “Dad was always there for us; he was so busy with his job but when he was home, he created memories.”

Molen recalled how his father took Fridays off to spend with the family.

“We built things together,” he said. “Because he enjoyed what he did in life, I wanted to be a great dad like him. It was always a positive thing to get to ride down to the office with him when he had an emergency.”

He has benefitted from his dad’s 36 years of orthodontic experience, he said. “He has the experience you’d never get in a book – and I have access to him every day.”

While his career continues to blossom, Molen said he’s already seen how the strengths of father and sons help to strengthen the family practice.

“I’m into technology and Rick is great at management,” he said. “And my dad — he’s just the nicest guy in the world. We really play on each others’ strengths.”

Molen said he knows he’s found his calling and is reminded of it each time he sees a patient’s confidence boost after completion of treatment.

“Two months ago we took braces off of a patient but I wouldn’t show her the mirror until after her teeth were polished,” he said. “When she finally saw them she cried with happiness. I like the idea of bringing the patients’ confidence from the inside to outside.”

Watching them gain that self-confidence – and know they no longer need to cover their mouths – means a lot to him, he said.

“It’s nice to play a role in helping kids and adults achieve their potential,” he said. “It’s good to be home and part of a community I grew up in and that I love. I feel accepted by the community and hope to return the favors.”

Molen Orthodontics has offices in Auburn and Sumner. It will reopen its Enumclaw office March 10 after extensive remodeling and celebrate its grand-opening May 14. Its phone numbers are 253-939-2552, Auburn; 253-863-0978, Sumner; and 360-825-6578, Enumclaw.

All phone numbers reach a central location. Its Web site is www.molenorthodontics.com and Aaron Molen’s three-demensional Web site is www.3DOrthodontist.com.

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com or 360-802-8210.