Get to Know the Doctors at Hughes Orthodontics!

Hughes Orthodontics has been a cornerstone of the Alexandria community since 1958. With three generations of orthodontists in the Hughes family, they have spent the last six decades providing the highest quality of care, changing people’s smiles and lives. Today we sat down with Dr. Justin and Dr. Hughes to learn more about them and discover the personalities behind Hughes Orthodontics.

Starting with Dr. Justin:

Both Doctors at Hughes Ortho

You followed in your father’s footsteps to become an orthodontist. Why?

My dad always loved what he did and that was certainly appealing to me, but I had to discover a love for it myself to be sure I really wanted to become an orthodontist. In high school, I loved and excelled in physics, likely thanks to an excellent physics teacher (shoutout to Mrs. Tyree @ SSSAS!) and in college I took biomechanics as part of my health and exercise science major. Biomechanics is the physics of how the human body moves. Then in dental school, we took a class in orthodontics, which is the biomechanics of tooth movement. At that moment, it clicked and I knew I would love thinking about orthodontics every day! It is a joy to serve our patients and give them the smiles they deserve as well as enjoy the problem-solving process of each individual case.

If you could give any superhero a smile makeover, who would it be and what would you do?

Sometimes Wolverine has a gnarly underbite like in this photo, but here's a photo of me dressed up as Wolverine in college, and I think the smile looks pretty good!

Dr. Justin 2

Orthodontics is often about transformations. Can you recall a particularly heartwarming or surprising reaction from a patient upon seeing their new smile for the first time?

There was a patient we recently finished treating who NEVER used to smile in photos. Her lips were always closed. When you saw the initial position of her teeth, you could understand why - lots of crowding and teeth pointing in different directions. But once her teeth started straightening out with braces, she began to SMILE for the first time in pictures! Now she has a beautiful smile and loves to show it off in pictures, and that makes my day. It's just as much about the transformation on the inside as the one on the outside. I love seeing patients gain new levels of confidence during their treatment. As we say in our mission statement, "we believe people achieve great things when they feel confident about their smiles."

What is your favorite thing about living and working in Alexandria, VA?

I love bumping into my patients around town. Recently I was picking up some Indian food in Belle View Shopping Center and a car full of teenage girls drove by yelling out the window "It's Dr. Hughes! Hey Dr. Justin, you did my braces! I still wear my retainer!" - that always makes my day.

What’s one thing your patients might not know about you but should?

I'm kind of a goofball. I love to make people laugh and even to laugh at myself. I'm a sucker for a great meme. If you have any good ones, send them my way.


What’s your favorite doughnut flavor?

This is a tough one! I do love the old-fashioned cake donuts, those are awesome with a cup of coffee.

On to Dr. Hughes…

You followed in your father’s footsteps to become an orthodontist. Why?

At the age of 15 I worked in my father’s orthodontic practice for the summer which gave me a great opportunity to not only appreciate my father’s work ethics, but also to fall in love with orthodontics. Watching the excitement of patients getting their braces removed and then looking into the mirror for the first time was a game changer for both the patients and me. What other job can you improve the quality of a person’s life, and we do it several times a day!

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You’re known for your magical abilities - how & why did you become a magician?

My evolution into magic came later in life. Most magicians received a magic kit when they were kids but for me it wasn’t until I was 35 years old. I was playing cards with a friend of mine, and I asked him if he knew any card tricks. Neither one of us knew any magic so I decided to learn how to do some card tricks on my own. In July of 1991 I visited Al’s Magic Shop in Washington DC and bought the book The Royal Road to Card Magic. Soon afterward I attended my first IMB (International Brotherhood of Magicians) convention in Baltimore, MD and the rest is history. I was like a kid in a candy store buying every magic trick that I could find. Fast forward a couple of years and I met a great orthodontist from Florida, Dr. Jim Krumholtz, who asked me if I performed my illusions for my patients. At that point I was just doing my magic at home, but he encouraged me to share my hobby with my patients. It wasn’t long before I was known as the magical orthodontist.


I love entertaining people and I found great joy watching the excitement and awe of people experiencing a close-up magical illusion firsthand. It has become a fun hobby that I’ve enjoyed for over 30+ years.

Speaking of magic, In the realm of magical creatures, whose teeth would you be most interested in working on - a dragon, a unicorn, or a mermaid?

I used to love watching the cartoon movie “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” because there was a character who I thought was named Herbie but whose real name is Hermey the Misfit Elf. Hermey wanted to become a dentist and later became a hero by pulling all of the Abominable Snow Monster’s teeth! With that being said, I would naturally want to work on a dragon.

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Do you have a favorite orthodontic moment?

I have two moments that stand out as truly special and memorable.
The first one was on June 2, 1986, when I joined my father in practice and the second one was on July 11, 2016, when Justin joined me in practice.

Why did you open the Adult Smile Center?

Justin and I decided to open the Adult Smile Center because we wanted to provide a relaxing spa-like atmosphere for our patients where adults are treated like adults. We offer the latest technology and truly have become an awesome orthodontic experience for our adult patients.

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What’s something unexpected about your professional journey that you’d like patients to know?

I didn’t have a desire at the beginning of my career to become an orthodontic speaker, but one day a 3M rep asked me if I would be willing to share my techniques with other orthodontists and I said yes. Fast forward 10 years and 30+ presentations and I’ve had a wonderful time traveling across the US, Canada and Bermuda presenting to my colleagues.

What’s your favorite doughnut flavor?

Vermont Maple Bacon – Yeast raised doughnut in Vermont maple glaze and topped with thick applewood smoked bacon. It is in Carlsbad, CA at The Goods.

We hope you loved getting to know the doctors as much as we did! It's so fun to learn new things about the people we see and interact with often and get to learn new things about them.

At Hughes Orthodontics we believe people achieve great things when they feel confident about their smiles! Call us at (703) 360-8660 or click here to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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