Meet Dr. Judah Garfinkle

On Being an Orthodontist

I feel very fortunate to have found the perfect job for me: one that allows me to work with people, create things with my hands, and improve the lives of those around me. I enjoy both the physical and mental aspects of my job. I love the fine manual work. It makes me feel like I am still building Legos as a child! And mentally, treatment planning and the regular orthodontic adjustments feels like a cross between playing chess and creating a bonsai tree.

But most importantly, having the privilege of being involved in each patient’s health care, is a responsibility that I take very seriously. My commitment is to treat every patient as if they were a member of my own family.

Education and Commitment to Continuing Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology – University of Oregon
  • Doctorate of Dental Medicine – Harvard School of Dental Medicine
  • Master of Science and Orthodontic Certificate – University of Kentucky
  • Fellowship in Craniofacial Orthodontics – New York University Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Going into college, I knew that I wanted to be a “doctor” but didn’t really know exactly what kind. I liked science, was intrigued by how the human body worked, and wanted to help people. As my journey continued, I tried to figure out what I wanted in a career. I decided that I wanted to work with children, as well as adults, get to work with my hands, and to have long-term relationships with my patients. Orthodontics is the only field that provides a perfect blend of those three elements.

During my Orthodontic training, my passion for treating patients with craniofacial conditions increased, so I sought out advanced training. My fellowship training is very specialized and unique. Only one fellow per year is accepted, and at the time I completed my fellowship, NYU was the only program in the world. During the fellowship, I learned about all the various facial deformities, and how to diagnosis and manage them, along with managing traumatic accidents and growth disturbances. I also made effort to learn as much as I could about the other craniofacial specialties (e.g. speech pathology, ENT, genetics, etc.), which makes my job more enjoyable and allows me to be a greater resource to my patients and other team members.

From my perspective, no case should be treated in a vacuum with orthodontic blinders on. Every case is best managed by a team, all working together towards the same goal. To be a good team member, I strive to maintain a fundamental level of understanding about the various aspects of dentistry and medicine, which allows me to be a better team member and doctor. To achieve this, I far exceed the board requirement for CE hours due to my natural thirst for knowledge and my commitment to providing the finest orthodontic care available. Since technology and science are always changing, I believe that to maintain excellence, lifelong learning is a requirement.

I also serve as the Director of the Craniofacial Orthodontics at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where I see patients with craniofacial conditions from birth to young adulthood. I am actively involved in research about patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions as well. In addition to authoring several book chapters and research papers, I serve as a consultant on the Cleft Team at Shriners Hospitals for Children and at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. I also wrote and advocated for what became House Bill (HB) 4128, which requires private medical insurance companies operating in Oregon to cover medically necessary dental procedures for patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association of Orthodontists
  • American Dental Association
  • American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association
  • Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists
  • Oregon State Society of Orthodontists
  • Oregon Dental Association

Family and Community

I am a Portland native, and was so happy to return home after completing my education. My wife, Ali, and I met at summer camp when we were 14 years old. She helps out in various ways in the office and works in the field of International Education and Study Abroad in higher education. We have three fantastic children: Maddie, Ian, and Leo.

When I’m not in the office, I love to grill on my BBQ, be out in the sun, and do any activity with my family, such as going on a walk, reading a book, playing sports, skiing, or just joking around. I also enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures.

As a way to give back to my community, I founded a non-profit called Smile Oregon in 2008. The mission of Smile Oregon is to ensure every child in Oregon affected by a cleft or other craniofacial condition has access to the coordinated care they deserve by providing support, education, and advocacy. I currently serve as the President of the Board of Directors.

My work with Smile Oregon is satisfying on multiple levels. I believe that we each have a duty to try to make the world a better place. If each one of us were to do our small part, together, we could indeed change the world for the better. I sincerely hope that my dedication to Smile Oregon provides a good example to my children, so they will grow up dedicated to giving back as well. It makes me feel good to give back and support the community in which I live.