Meet Dr. L. Douglas Knight
An Orthodontic Career That Almost Wasn’t
It didn’t start out as a normal day. He was siting in a continuing education course for dentists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dr Doug Knight had heard about Dr Ron Roth by rumor and comments of the military mojos of dental care.
Now here he sat. The big, booming voice of Dr Roth filled the room. What he was saying made so much sense, but “ why haven’t I heard this before“ kept dwelling in Doug’s mind even after clear science presented by the big man proved his points in detail.
For every thought of “what if …” and every “but what about this…” Dr Roth had an answer. And not just any answer but one that squashed the validity of what has been much of the current thinking and quite a bit of data that was brand new. Stuff he had never heard before. It all clicked. Finally.
This is what he had been looking for, but almost given up hope of finding. And in all places, with an orthodontist! He thought, ”This solves my problems of how I am going to practice and live my professional life.”
Doug had been troubled for more than a little while, by what he saw as a general dentist in the Army, even after completing his one year general practice residency down at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He had become quite good at doing restorative dentistry, including using porcelain to make ugly teeth pretty again. Still, something just did not fit. It wasn’t right.
He wanted to help people keep their teeth, prevent the problems of altered growth and development of the face, crooked teeth, cavities and gum disease. He wanted to make beautiful smiles with functional bites and attractive faces. He knew the real value of this kind of care literally changed the futures of the children and adults he treated. It was and is transformative. This was real help.
It was at this moment that he did an about face.
He decided right then and there to become an orthodontist, but not just any orthodontist. This was more, far more than just making teeth straight.
He wanted to be the guider of growth and development that made pretty faces, bites that supported the muscles in a relaxed position, comfortable jaw joints, and opened airways that prevented sleep apnea and snoring. He wanted to put smiling faces on the girls and boys he treated because he knew the life changing, life enhancing effects that stay with them the rest of their lives.
Then it dawned on him. Doug had serious problems! He had to create a new path.
He first had to handle his Army duties from his ROTC scholarship he had received while at the University of Kentucky. He had enjoyed his seven years in the Army, but it was time to move on.
Then he had to get into an orthodontic training program. No easy task because competition for a resident position was fierce. The vast majority of applicants never get in. He applied the valuable lessons of growing up with parents who has instilled a deep work ethic in him by example. Doug worked after school with his dad on the family farm– 400 acres and 150 head of cattle. It was real labor. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter and wet in between.
He sought wise council. Doug knew that having been a general dentist would help him be a great orthodontist. He consulted his new mentor, Dr Roth on where to apply.
He got into New York University Orthodontic training program located in Manhattan. So Doug and his wife Donna picked up and moved. It was just too expensive to live in Manhattan, so he and Donna lived in Brooklyn and he commuted. She worked in the garment district helping make ends meet as best she could.
Doug decided to be the top student in his class of eight residents. He decided he would simply out work everyone else. He studied all the regular classes and then did more on his own, including weekends. He used the time on the subway, an hour each way, to study each day as well.
Then he did something very unusual. He started on a two-year program of post-graduate training with Dr Ron Roth while still in his NYU program. This was not easy. It took a lot of guts to do this. Doug had to borrow money for NYU tuition, for living expenses and now borrow for Dr Roth’s comprehensive course and the travel to California for flights and hotels several times a year.
Dr Roth noticed. He mentored Doug. He took him under his wing and gave him the assurance he was doing the right thing. Most evenings after the course, Dr Roth would take him to dinner for an evening of stories and an education on orthodontics.
Doug burned inside to know and understand orthodontics and growth and development at a deeper level. He was showing how much he wanted to be an excellent orthodontist, more than a tooth straightener – a real health care provider.
Isn’t it amazing how little understanding the public has about real orthodontic care?
This was in the mid 1990’s.
He graduated from his program at NYU on July 14th and started practicing on July 15th in Radcliff, Kentucky. His dad, an agronomist and engineer at Fort Knox and farmer, had helped Doug and Donna find their location and build out their new orthodontic dental office while Doug was in school. So Doug and Donna opened their first office in Radcliff in 1995, the town where Doug and his brother and two sisters grew up. It was just the two of them learning how to run an orthodontic practice and caring for his quickly growing family of patients.
Doug was still training with Dr Roth. There was a lot to learn and apply, training that few orthodontists get.
Then Dr Roth asked Doug to keep coming back to help show his patient cases and how the system worked in the real world. Doug became a teacher, too. He traveled the world with Dr Roth lecturing to orthodontists all over the world until Dr Roth’s untimely death.
Dr L. Douglas Knight still travels the world teaching this unique method of orthodontics that only a small percentage of orthodontists use. Some say it is too hard. Some say it is too complicated. Others say it doesn’t matter. The reality is that it is a type of orthodontics that gives lasting effects going far deeper than just straight teeth. His results speak for themselves. He lives his passion for excellence everyday of his life.
Today, Doug practices orthodontics in both Louisville and Radcliff while maintaining a busy teaching schedule that gives him the satisfaction of making a difference not only here at home in Kentucky with the kids and adults he treats, but also all over the world through the orthodontists he teaches and their patients.
Dr. Knight and his staff are wonderful. They are very friendly. Thank you so much for making my teeth straight. I have smiled all day. I would tell others to pay attention and follow what you are being told by Dr. Knight and the Staff. I will be taking care of this smile!Mattie
Dr. Knight is so nice and you get treated so well there. Everyone is nice and friendly. They always make sure you’re taken care of.
Facts & Figures About Dr. Knight
Kentucky native Dr. L. Douglas Knight has been practicing orthodontics since 1995. After receiving his undergraduate and dental degrees from the University of Kentucky, he joined the Army Dental Corps, where he served for 7 years in several military assignments. He practiced General Dentistry for seven years before attending a two-year orthodontic residency program at New York University, where he earned his Certificate in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Dr. Knight has completed a one-year advanced education program in general dentistry and a comprehensive two-year clinical continuing education program in Occlusion and Orthodontics at the Roth Williams Center for Functional Occlusion.
Now a board-certified member of the American Board of Orthodontics and a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Knight lectures frequently on topics such as skeletal anchorage plates and dentoalveolar distraction osteogenesis (DDO). He is a recipient of the Pacesetter Award from the Roth Williams International Society of Orthodontists (RWISO) and recently was named one of the nation’s top dentists by Woodward/White, a highly respected publishing firm.
Internationally, Dr. Knight serves as the U.S. Director of the RWISO, as well as Director of the Full Face Course, which is the RWISO’s U.S. training center.
Locally, Dr. Knight is active in The East End Study Club, Kentucky Orthodontic Association and serves as an Elder at Beargrass Christian Church. He has been a member of the Radcliff Rotary for over twenty years. He and his wife, Donna, have two children, Connor and Kendall.