SYCAMORE – Orthodontist Dr. Todd Curtis retired on March 5 after 34 years of orthodontic practice.
In 1988, he started Curtis Orthodontics, the first orthodontic practice in Sycamore. The practice will continue with Dr. Peter Barysenka as Curtis & Barysenka Sycamore Orthodontics.
Even though Curtis has retired, he will continue to help adolescents in the community.
He and his wife Christine, who is a general dentist, established the Todd and Christine Curtis Family Fund through the DeKalb County Community Foundation. The fund will help middle school and high school students who have the greatest need in the community.
Donations to the fund can be made online atádekalbccf.org/donate or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, IL 60178.
Curtis met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss his plans for retirement and the newly created fund to help children.
Milton: Are you originally from Sycamore?
Curtis: I grew up south of [Chicago] on the edge of Cook County in Flossmoor. I know, the name sounds like a bad dental joke. I then went to the University of Illinois and Northwestern University for dental school. I was the president of my class both years of residency. I have my DDS, a MS in histology and a MS in oral biology.
Milton: Why did you choose to become an orthodontist?
Curtis: I knew that it was a branch of dentistry that I loved. I also absolutely love working with the adolescent age group. The majority of my patients are ages 10 to 16. I love orthodontics because it has art as well as science in it. It’s restorative, creating healthy and good bites, good smiles and attractive faces.
Milton: What is orthodontics?
Curtis: Orthodontics is the study of dentofacial growth and correction, including correcting the growth of jaws and the alignment of teeth. It’s beyond just braces. Orthodontists are general dentists first and we complete an orthodontic residency with heavily specialized training. … My patients are age 6 to about 80. I see the youngest patients because of their development, maybe their baby teeth are not coming out. I also help with cleft lip or palate and other genetic issues.
Milton: When do patients usually first visit an orthodontist?
Curtis: Often, the first visit to an orthodontist is at age 9. Usually, their parents notice a problem and want it looked at. The vast majority are fine, but some can be a little off track. A problem in development can create a bigger problem, which can create another and another, which leads to a more difficult case.
Milton: Tell me about your wife Christine.
Curtis: I met my wife Christine in college, she is a general dentist. Chris taught at the University of Illinois for two years, but she left dentistry to focus on our family. Her dad is a dentist, so she could always emphasize and understand the long hours and hard work it takes. I left home around 6 a.m. and returned around 7 p.m. every day. I know I couldn’t have done it without her help, her commitment and her dedication.
Milton: Tell me about the fund you and your wife created.
Curtis: My wife Chris and I created the Todd and Christine Curtis Family Fund through the DeKalb County Community Foundation. I have loved being a servant and helping others, and I am a person whose faith is very important to him. For me, being an orthodontist was a calling and a duty to serve people. It was never about money. It’s about using science and biology to change the way someone looks and feels about themselves. I try always to be the best dentist and orthodontist I could be.
Milton: What will you do during your retirement?
Curtis: Chris and I plan on visiting our kids, who live out of state. We have four children and three grandchildren, with another on the way. We’re also thinking of going skiing and taking more day and weekend trips. I have been blessed by God’s hand in my life. The future is up to God completely. There have been great positive circumstances in my life that got me to where I am today. I want to continue to serve through our church and with our fund.
Milton: Do you have plans to move?
Curtis: No, we live on a farm north of Sycamore with more than 100 acres. One of my goals in retirement is to get the farm in order and restore a lot with woods. We’ve already done a controlled burn. That area is forested with oaks, hickories and a few cherry trees. My goal is to take care of that area so that it stays healthy for the next generation and future generations.
Milton: How will the fund help others?
Curtis: The fund will help adolescents and their families in need. It will help them academically, not just items for school or books, but also for things like instruments to participate in the orchestra. Our goal is to help the family’s general needs.
Milton: Why do you think it’s important to give back?
Curtis: When you give, you give from the heart with no strings attached. Giving back to others allows me to be impactful in many ways. Being an orthodontist, I know how pivotal and challenging the age of adolescence is. As an orthodontist, and now with the fund, I can help give others a better quality of life.
Milton: If you weren’t an orthodontist, what job would you have?
Curtis: If I did anything else, I’d probably be a pediatrician. My brother-in-law is a pediatrician. I could see that being a possibility. In the sixth grade, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a rock star, a running back in the NFL or a doctor.
Milton: Will retiring be difficult for you?
Curtis: Retirement will definitely be tough because I’ve worked every day for 34 years. I have seen three generations of families. An orthodontic procedure usually takes about two years, so I really get to know my patients and their families. It’s an interactive, cooperative process. I think I’m known for remembering people’s names. I remember because they’re important, because they’re in my heart. I’d like to let people know how grateful I am for the career I’ve had. If anyone is interested in sending me a letter or keeping in touch, they can send something attention my name to my office and it will get to me. It’s been a great 34 years and I know I’ll miss seeing my patients every day.