Collins brings personality to orthodontia with viral "that braces guy" TikTok account

Photo of Grant Collins holding up braces rubber bands of various colors on each gloved finger, on a School of Dentistry branded background

Grant Collins, DDS ’10, MS, never expected to go viral on TikTok.

In fact, when a patient first showed him the app and encouraged him to create an account, he said he’d never heard of this “tic tac” thing. But the Rochester-based orthodontist decided to give it a try—and now he’s best known as TikTok sensation “The Braces Guy.”

Headshot of Grant Collins

Collins’s journey has been full of discoveries and surprises—including his career path. As a college student, he knew he wanted to study healthcare, but had little exposure to oral health care as a profession until he shadowed a couple at Mayo Clinic: one partner was a radiologist, the other a dentist. “I thought it was a really cool side-by-side comparison of the two professions,” he said, “and I found that dentistry was a little more my vibe.”

He chose the University of Minnesota based on its excellent ratings and a desire to stay close to home, and started learning dentistry from the ground up. “I didn’t even know what a crown was,” he recalled. “No one in my family is in dentistry, so it was really learning from the ground up.”

Collins found his niche in orthodontics as soon as that rotation began. “It just clicked with how my brain works,” he recalled. “I’m very much a puzzle, problem solver person. I love envisioning what an end point should look like and figuring out how to get from point A to point B.”

After undergoing his residency at Mayo Clinic, Collins opened his own practice in his hometown and began sharing pieces of his life and information about orthodontics on Instagram. And when he decided to take a look at TikTok, he was immediately excited.

“When your style or personality can come out through a channel like that, that’s what got me excited,” he said. And he feels lucky to have joined the platform early on—while health professionals sharing their expertise are common on TikTok today, he recalls being one of the first of his kind when he created his account in the spring of 2019.

“At that point, it was very much a dancing app, and that was it,” he recalled. “I can’t dance. So I figured, I’d better find something else to do. I started to view the platform as a blank slate, where I could do my own kind of video.”

He began to share educational content, some humor and some content about his family. The account quickly took off,with a video about braces colors and another about the process of making a retainer quickly going viral.

He and his team were thrilled—a chance to showcase their practice while also helping people and sharing more about their personality doesn’t come around every day. Within six months, the account broke one million followers.

“It became this huge thing that was totally new to me,” he said. And Collins’s following continued to grow at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he shared content for braces wearers who might suddenly be cut off from their orthodontists. “I loved getting to help people—not only my patients, but people around the world, as well,” he said.

Collins loves sharing behind-the-scenes content, rubber band color inspiration to make braces seem a bit more fun and fashionable, and bits of his personality to make going to the orthodontist a little less scary. He’s thrilled to have achieved the success and notoriety he has—but he didn’t set out to go viral, and that’s not why he does what he does today.

“It’s not that hard to go viral on TikTok if you do or say something shocking, but that’s not how you make an impact,” he said. “You want your content to be in line with your values, your mission, your culture. Instill that office culture, and make sure your content reflects that, and you’ll be successful.”