Talking shop with Dr. Edwin Noffel, Center for Orthodontics

Monday, July 11, 2011
Dr. Eddie Noffel is an orthodontist at the Center for Orthodontics in Cape Girardeau (Kristin Eberts)

For half a century, Dr. Edwin Noffel has made the smiles of local children and adults beautiful. The Portageville, Mo., native said the biggest thrill he gets from practicing orthodontics is seeing how his work affects the lives of his patients and forming lifelong friendships with them. From his professional beginnings as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy, Noffel moved on to establish his practice in Cape Girardeau. He says the love of his job and his patients have sustained him for the past 50 years.

Question: How long have you practiced dentistry?

Answer: My first day in practice was June 6, 1961.

Q: Why did you choose to become an orthodontist?

A: I grew up in Portageville, where I worked in my parent's grocery store, and always had an affinity for children, so I knew I wanted to pursue a field that involved children. I went off to college thinking I would be a pediatrician. After a year in college, I decided being a pediatrician would not be a life with happy children. At that point, I decided to become an orthodontist. I completed my predental at Memphis State University and received my dental degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. After graduation I served as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. After one year, I married my beautiful wife, Beverly, and we were in the Navy for one more year. After the Navy, I was fortunate to have been accepted to the graduate orthodontic program at Washington University in St. Louis for my orthodontic degree.

Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

A: It's exciting to come to work every day and create beautiful, healthy smiles that change personalities, change lives and the result lasts a lifetime. I also enjoy building relationships with patients and parents, which also last a lifetime. We have lots of adult patients, too, and they are also excited and appreciative. Their friendship is also wonderful.

Q: What attracted you to Cape Girardeau?

A: When I finished my orthodontic education, the entire U.S. needed orthodontists. But being a Southeast Missouri boy, with family and friends in the Bootheel, settling in Cape Girardeau was a natural choice, and it was a good decision. Beverly and I moved to town with one daughter and were blessed with three more girls, and all four graduated from Central High School.

Q: How has your business changed and grown over the years?

A: I started as one orthodontist at the Medical Arts Building on Broadway and now we are three orthodontists at Doctors' Park with offices in the surrounding area. One of the biggest changes is the advancement in technology, so we can provide treatment for more patients in a shorter amount of time. New technology has also led to an increase in demand for adult treatment.

Q: How has technology changed in your industry over the years?

A: Orthodontics can proudly boast many major advancements. In the beginning, each tooth had to have a band. Today all the brackets are bonded all at one time. It is almost like magic. It is so much easier on the patient and the orthodontist. The new wires are soft and the heat of the mouth activates the wires for light, gentle force on the teeth. We have colored ties that change at every appointment. There are many more treatment possibilities with all the new types of braces -- all easier and better for the patients and treatment time is shorter. Invisalign, a non-bracket treatment, is also available. Adults are especially thrilled with Invisalign, but it is also indicated for some younger patients.

Q: What drives you to continue working in your field?

A: The marvelous treatment results that can be accomplished. The interaction and excitement of being with patients, no matter what their age and the joy I see on their faces when I take their braces off.

Q: How have you been able to sustain such a long career?

A: Actually it's been easy and fun. I have had marvelous and wonderful patients through the years. I also have great partners. Dr. David Feuerhahn joined me in 1990, and Dr. Kate Barnette joined us in 2009. We have a terrific staff, many who have been with us for a long time, and good support from excellent dentists in the surrounding area.

Q: What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

A: A little hard to choose since I have been blessed with so many. But having the opportunity to teach graduate orthodontics at the University of Tennessee and St. Louis University would have to be high on my list.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you've faced as an orthodontist?

A: There really haven't been any big challenges. It is a great profession, and I still love every minute of it.

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