Meet A Mom – Dr Nissen of SHN Orthodontics - South OC Moms

Please meet Dr. Nissen of SHN Orthodontics in the city of Mission Viejo. Dr. Nissen was born and raised right here in South Orange County and comes from a long line of brilliant Orthodontists. Dr. Nissen’s father started the practice 40 years ago and now she carries on the legacy of quality care. Being a Mom of two boys, she understands the lives of busy families and treats all of her patients the way she would want her children to be treated. Find out when Dr. Nissen suggests bringing your child in for their first orthodontist appointment, what makes her practice different and where she loves to spend time with her family in South Orange County.


Dr Nissen


Can you please share a bit about your family and why you choose to raise them in Orange County? Dr Nissen

I was born in Laguna Beach in 1974 and I was raised in Dana Point. My husband and I lived in many other places during my training, but I quickly realized that you can’t beat south Orange County when it comes to a good place to raise a family.


Dr Nissen


When did you know that you wanted to be an orthodontist?

I knew that I loved science in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I realized how much I loved the field of dentistry. My dad, James Hilgers, was one of the first orthodontists in Mission Viejo and I always enjoyed being with him in his office and watching him do his work. Once I finished dental school at Tufts University in Boston, I knew that I needed to go all the way and get my masters in orthodontics so that I could practice with my dad.


Dr Nissen


What makes your practice different than all the rest?

My practice is different from others because we have been in the community since 1969. I am so lucky to be seeing some of the grandchildren of my father’s first patients. It has the history and the legacy of quality care. We pride ourselves on having the latest technology.


When should us Moms bring our kids in for their first orthodontist appointment?

The first orthodontic appointment is recommended around age 8 years old. This is when most children have their top and bottom front 4 teeth and the 6-year molars have erupted in the back. Not all kids need something at this age. I am very conservative about when a child needs early treatment like an expander and partial braces. Most kids can wait for treatment until age twelve. Seeing them earlier is just a good way to get them comfortable with the office and a way to make sure that there isn’t anything going on that needs early attention.


Dr Nissen


Dr Nissen


Dr Nissen


How has motherhood impacted your work?

This question about motherhood makes me smile because I think it has changed my work in so many ways. I can relate a lot to a family’s busy schedule, so I don’t like to waste people’s time. I try to be efficient and combine appointments when I can. I try to set things up so that they don’t break. Most importantly, I try to treat my patients as I would want my child to be treated. I am nurturing and patient. We are really good with helping patients who might be nervous. I like to have fun and you can feel that when you walk in our door.


Dr Nissen


How do you practice self-care as a working Mother of two boys?

Self-care is a really difficult thing to prioritize with two boys at home. As I get older, I realize that I cannot be helpful to my family if I don’t take care of myself. I recently started swimming regularly and I love it. It allows me to stretch and give my back a break. It is also great for stress release. Most importantly, I have great mom friends. It is hugely important for me to talk to others that are going through the same challenges so that I don’t feel so alone.


What is your favorite thing to do or place to go with your family in Orange County?

My favorite spot in south Orange County is the beach walk in front of the Montage Laguna. It’s only twenty minutes from our house but it makes me feel like I have jetted off to Italy. We bring a picnic and a football, and the boys can play on the grass. That is my perfect day.


Where is your favorite date night spot with your husband?

My favorite date night spot is Ciao Pasta in San Juan Capistrano. The owners are former patients, and they are always so welcoming. They have incredible drinks (like their espresso martini) and the calamari is top notch.


Dr Nissen


How can local families find your amazing practice?

My practice is located across the street from Mission Viejo High School (right where Chrisanta crosses La Paz Road).  All new patient consultations are complimentary, and we can be reached at 949-830-4101. The website address is


Dr Nissen

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