A newsmaker you should know: Hampton orthodontist heads national group

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John Buzzatto doesn't want people to associate their orthodontist with painful braces.

That is one of the messages the American Association of Orthodontists is hoping to get across to the public, Mr. Buzzatto, an orthodontist who has offices in Hampton, said.

"We want to rebrand us as someone who will help you get a great smile, not someone who just puts on painful, ugly braces," said Mr. Buzzatto, 60, of Hampton. "We don't want you -- or especially children -- to fear us."

Mr. Buzzatto, who also has offices in Bridgeville, was recently elected president of the association for 2012-13.

The organization is the world's oldest and largest dental specialty group with more than 17,000 members from the U.S., Canada and other countries, he said.

"The association represents trained orthodontists, those who have received the additional two to three years of training to be orthodontists," he said.

The group offers a variety of services for members and the public, including providing practice support and educational materials; serving as an advocate for various health issues that affect orthodontic care; overseeing the annual session; and disseminating information about orthodontic care to the public.

"The AAO's mission revolves around making sure the public receives the best orthodontic care possible," Mr. Buzzatto said.

"Orthodontic care has changed so much and is so different since I started my practice 30 years ago," he said. "We have far more adults using our services, and just the types of braces we offer has changed."

One of Mr. Buzzatto's major duties in his new role will be to oversee the association's 113th annual session which will be held in Philadelphia in May 2013.

"This is our major event. We usually have 16,000 to 18,000 at session," he said.

The session serves as an educational and social forum for orthodontists and their assistants. In addition to educational and training presentations, vendors showcase new equipment and tools and social meetings are held for dentists and dental assistants.

Mr. Buzzatto is in the process of visiting Philadelphia to view various venues for the session, another task in his new, volunteer position.

"This is such an honor, I really enjoy doing all of these things," he said.

Mr. Buzzatto joined the association's board of trustees in 2003 and represents the Great Lakes Association of Orthodontists.

He also belongs to orthodontic and dental organizations and has served as past president of three groups: Great Lakes Association of Orthodontists; Pennsylvania Association of Orthodontists; and Western Pennsylvania Society of Orthodontists.

He also is a member of the American Dental Association, Pennsylvania Dental Association and Dental Society of Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Buzzatto is a fellow of the World Federation of Orthodontists, a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and a member of the College of Diplomates of the ABO.

Mr. Buzzatto is on the medical staff of Allegheny General Hospital and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Even though some may still "fear" the orthodontist, Mr. Buzzatto said, it is a "fun job."

"I love what I do," he said.


Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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