This month we chatted with Dr. Zach Casagrande of Northern Virginia Orthodontics about what it’s like to be the official orthodontist of the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, how he gives back to the community, and why you should be having fun at the orthodontist.
So, Northern Virginia Orthodontics (NVO) has just been named the “Official Orthodontist” of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. What exactly does that mean?
We’ve actually treated a bunch of the Caps, but none of the Wizards or Mystics yet, but we will be. [Ted] Leonsis owns the Verizon Center and the three teams and they have 450 employees, not including the players. Basically, we’ll be taking care of those employees, the players and their families. For the organization (Monumental Sports) they get their orthodontic work and we get that great exposure.
It seems like a perfect match, especially for a hockey team. Is this something you pursued or did Monumental Sports make first contact?
They came to me. I’ve been a season ticket holder for about 10 years and they emailed me out of the blue this spring and asked me to do it. I grew up in the D.C. area and I’ve been a Caps fan since I was a kid. I actually treated hall of famer Rod Langway, who played when I was growing up. I met him – this is like 10 years ago – at a Caps game, and they had an area for season ticket holders and Rod was missing his front tooth. I started talking to him, “Rod I can help you out, you were one of my idols growing up.” So he was appreciative. I set him up with some ortho work and a friend of mine who’s an oral surgeon. That turned into more players coming in to see us, so we’ve treated a bunch of Caps over the years, and their wives and girlfriends. And it just spun into this!
Does this mean people can expect to see some professional athletes showing up at NVO sometime soon?
Definitely, and we’ve seen some already. Not only in the office patient-wise, but they’re giving us a lot of access, too. So at their most recent Capitals Fanfest, they let us go over with some staff and patients and meet the players — including TJ Oshie — who’s brand new to the team. So it’s cool!
You grew up in Reston, went to undergrad at JMU, dental school at MCV in Richmond, and then stuck around Northern Virginia. What do you like about the area?
It’s a great place to live. We have lived in Loudoun since I completed my residency and started practicing. Brambleton is a great place to raise a family, there are tons of kids, and it’s a growing area still. And people care about their health and their kids’ health and teeth here. I also wanted somewhere that I could live close to the office and become part of the community….and the short commute doesn’t hurt! With three kids of my own I wanted to be home as much as I could. When I finished my residency in Richmond and came back home to Northern Virginia, Brambleton was really just a road and they were building the movie theater. I think we were the second tenant in the Town Center. Now obviously there’s a ton of stuff going on. We’re getting ready to expand the office again this fall and this time we’re adding something that I don’t think a medical or dental office has ever done before. It’s going to make the experience for patients that much better.
And the rest is history. Since then NVO has made a great impact on the community.
My wife and I are really active in the community. We do a ton of philanthropic and charity work, which I’m hugely passionate about. We’ve had three patients with pediatric cancer over the last five years that have succumbed to the disease. So we did a huge fundraiser for pediatric cancer where I bought a Jeep and parked it right in front of the Town Center for two months to raffle it off, which we called “Car For A Cure.” One hundred percent of the collections went to charity. Half went to Team Mathias, the pediatric cancer charity of a dear patient of mine, and half went to research at Children’s National in D.C. We ended up raising $158,000, just locally in the community, which was awesome!
What drives that passion for you?
Honestly, just helping people. When I see a patient, it’s for two years. And a family with three kids I’ll see for seven or eight years in a row. You get to know these families very well. Mathias Giordano was one of my favorite patients, super polite kid, always talking to everyone in the office, caring, kind, good looking, great smile, very athletic. And watching him go through his fight against cancer, I wanted to do whatever I could for the family and raising awareness. Orthodontics in general allows my team (NVO) and I the ability to change and better lives every day and also gives our office the means to do things like this for others. Our goal is to make a difference in as many lives and patients and families as possible.
What’s one misconception you think people might have about orthodontics, and how do you set people straight on that misconception (no braces pun intended)?
(Laughs) That’s an easy answer. People think it’s painful or that there are needles or shots involved. Nowadays there’s none of that. It’s not like going to the old school doctor or dentist – it’s a fun environment. Adults and parents also want to know how long it’s going to take and how much it’s going to cost. We make sure it’s efficient so we’re not wasting your time, plus we offer plenty of options for payment and even have our own discount orthodontic plan for those with no orthodontic coverage.
What made you want to be an orthodontist?
When I realized college and baseball weren’t going to last forever, I started working in my dad’s best friend’s dental office during breaks from school. That’s when I got interested. In your third year of dental school you do all of these rotations to see all of the specialties, and that’s when I knew I wanted to do orthodontics. The main reason: the orthodontists seemed the happiest.
Why do you think that is?
Because we’re not inflicting pain, probably (laughs). People don’t love going to the dentist, even if it’s just for the cleaning. So we wanted to change that at NVO. Every child gets a t-shirt when they start treatment with us. When they come to the office, they each get their own credit card that we swipe for points if they wear their shirt or if they arrive on time or keep their teeth clean. We call them “Big House Bucks” (for Casagrande), and they can go online and it’s like Amazon.com for kids. They can get gift certificates for the mall or Dick’s Sporting Goods, whatever their interest is, and they actually like coming in.
That’s brilliant. What keeps you busy outside of work?
Right now it’s supporting my son as he’s on the road very frequently for college baseball showcases. My family is definitely number one, whether it’s traveling, going to sporting events, concerts, trying new restaurants or just enjoying some quality time with them. We’re on the move a lot!
How long before you get the Nats in your office?
Oh man, that would be awesome. If they come calling, we’ll do it. Baseball’s the sport I played, it’s my son’s passion. We love all those guys. I’d say, to answer your question, give it a couple of years. Once they see how well we treat the Caps and the Wizards and Mystics, they’ll be calling!
Meet Team NVO
At Northern Virginia Orthodontics & Northern Virginia Orthodontics Center for Invisalign®, we truly love what we do. Our hip, energetic staff members have enthusiasm that is contagious. Our doctors are the best in the area and truly care about those they treat. Our patients can feel that from their initial phone call to the completion of treatment. It’s no surprise we’ve been recognized as aWashingtonian Top Orthodontist, as well as one of the Washingtonian’s “50 Great Places to Work.”
We are open every day during the week, and certain days have longer evening hours to fit even the busiest schedule. Drs. Casagrande and Nelson and our experienced and knowledgeable staff look forward to meeting you and your family, and getting you started on the road to a remarkable smile.
Humans of Brambleton is our blog feature that focuses on one of the many interesting personalities who calls Brambleton home. If you’re interested in being a future Human of Brambleton, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.