Article Summary: John Pham is what some might call a noodler.

He noodled in aerospace. He noodled a startup or two. He even noodled at school, dropping out and then returning to earn degrees in engineering, dental surgery and craniofacial biology. Ultimately, he landed the title of DDS or doctor of dental surgery, something to make his mama proud.

“I’ll be the doctor you always wanted,” Pham recalls telling her.

Pham’s noodling didn’t stop with his last degree. Instead, he started thinking about ways to reshape the traditional world of orthodonture using old technology with a modern twist.

He and business partner Hongsheng Tong, a fellow dental surgeon and professor at USC, are joining the hugely profitable race to straighten America’s teeth.

Pham says his team has created “a whole new category of braces.”

Their company, Irvine-based InBrace, uses metal and brackets like many before them. Only their metal is the 21st-century kind — programmed with a memory to straighten teeth — from behind.

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