Friday, April 16th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Engineering led daughter into father's orthodontic practice

by Cristi Sanchez

Dr. Brad Christenson  and  Dr. Jennifer Oakley

Dr. Brad Christenson and Dr. Jennifer Oakley

Even though Dr. Jennifer Oakley is the daughter of an orthodontist, during her formative years she never considered a career in orthodontics for herself. Engineering was her passion. Following high school, she was off to Georgia Tech where she earned a degree in Industrial Engineering. With this degree in hand, she landed a job doing restaurant consulting with an architectural engineering firm.

"I liked the job very much," she recalls, "but it demanded a lot of travel. I knew that I wanted to have a family eventually, and as much as I loved engineering, I knew that a life filled with frequent travel wouldn't be an option in the future."

As Jennifer considered possible career options- ones that combined her passion for engineering with her desire for a family- her thoughts turned to her father, Chesapeake-based orthodontist, Dr. Brad Christenson.

A 22-year Air Force veteran, Dr. Christenson had  initially practiced general dentistry for four years before completing an orthodontic residency.

After graduating and being stationed in Turkey, Dr. Christenson and his family were stationed at Langley Air Force Base from 1989 to 1994. After tours in Germany and Mississippi, Dr. Christenson retired from the Air Force in 2000.

"I got to know and love this area during the five years we were stationed here," Dr. Christenson recalls. "After I retired, we moved to Tennessee, where I taught orthodontics at Vanderbilt University for five years. I really thought that's what I'd be doing for many years to come."

However, fate had different plans. In 2005, everything changed with a phone call from Dr. Mark Peterson, an orthodontic associate in Chesapeake who Dr. Christenson had met while in Hampton Roads.

"Mark had taken over the family practice his dad started in the 1960s. Unfortunately, he'd developed medical problems in 2005 and could no longer practice," Dr. Christenson says sympathetically. "The practice had been in his family for over 30 years, and they had a great reputation. When he called me, he wasn't looking so much to sell the practice as he was looking for someone to take care of his patients. I was honored that he would consider entrusting his family practice to me. So, I bought it in 2005 and have been here ever since!"

The daughter/father duo of Dr. Jennifer Oakley and Dr. Brad Christenson (center) <BR>head the staff  of Christenson Family Orthodontics      <BR>  Photo by Michele Thompson

The daughter/father duo of Dr. Jennifer Oakley and Dr. Brad Christenson (center)
head the staff of Christenson Family Orthodontics
Photo by Michele Thompson

Jennifer had been around her dad's practice while growing up, having worn braces herself. Now, as she began to consider all career options for the future, she experienced an epiphany of sorts.

"I began connecting the dots between engineering and orthodontics," she recalls excitedly. "It suddenly occurred to me that orthodontics was all about engineering! Those engineering principles I learned as an industrial engineer are the same principles behind the interaction between orthodontic brackets and wires." Orthodontics suddenly seemed like the perfect career choice for the young family-oriented engineer.

"It suddenly occurred to me that orthodontics
was all about engineering
...It was wonderful to realize that
not only could I fulfill my dreams,
but I could also make my dad's day!"

- Jennifer Oakley

Jennifer embarked on a new life journey, returning to school for eight more years. Completing her orthodontic residency in the summer of 2018, Dr. Jennifer Oakley joined her father at Christenson Family Orthodontics that August.

After practicing alone for 13 years, Dr. Christenson was delighted to have his daughter on board. "It's got to be every dad's dream come true to work with one of his children," he declares beaming.

"It was wonderful to realize that not only could I fulfill my dreams, but I could also make my dad's day!" Jennifer laughs with a glance at her father.

Dr. Christenson points out how the practice has benefitted from Jennifer's presence "Jennifer brings her energy here, as well as the latest technology."

"Which he has embraced very enthusiastically," Jennifer interjects smiling.

The close bond between the father and daughter is evident in their smiles, laughter, and easy camaraderie.

"We're a very close-knit family," Dr. Christenson asserts. "For the last ten years, my family has taken me to see a baseball game in a different state for Father's Day."

"Yes. The whole family goes," Jennifer adds cheerfully. "We're trying to visit all the stadiums in the country."

The father/daughter duo work to infuse the practice with this easy-going family dynamic.

"Our goal here is to create beautiful smiles in a warm, compassionate environment," Dr. Christenson notes. "We offer full-service orthodontic treatment from traditional braces to clear aligners in a family atmosphere."

 "We're not just here to be a business; the patients come first," Jennifer insists earnestly. "Our focus is on creating a welcoming family atmosphere with the advantages of state-of-the-art technology."

"We really do treat our patients like family," Dr. Christenson agrees. "One of the reasons our patients love it here and refer their friends to us is because we let them know that they matter to us. We have people tell us all the time that in this office they don't feel as if they're just a number. That means so much to us!"

Dr. Christenson is quick to point out that every employee of Christenson Family Orthodontics shares the credit for such patient responses.

 "I have the nicest staff!" he declares with a grin. "What they do is so impressive, and they develop great relationships with the patients! I love hearing Taylor laughing with parents in the front reception area, and at the same time, Jenny, Sarah, and Toni are laughing with the patients in the back. They're not just trying to get them in and get them out. They've developed beautiful relationships with the patients. We even have some former patients who continue to drop by the office just to talk to the staff."

Family is essential to Dr. Brad Christenson and Dr. Jennifer Oakley, in both their personal and professional lives. With a warm and caring staff in a compassionate family-like atmosphere, Christenson Family Orthodontics provides skilled, personalized care to create beautiful smiles and relationships that last a lifetime.

Christenson Family Orthodontics

350 Johnstown Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322