Dentists are always trying to find ways to improve their practices and distinguish themselves from their professional colleagues in their respective geographic areas. In some cases this is a matter of marketing the convenient, lifestyle-consistent approach that the practice takes in treating its patients. In others, it’s about offering a one-stop shop for all of a patient’s dental needs: preventive, restorative, periodontal, orthodontic, endodontic, and so on. In many offices such as my own, specialists are directly associated with the practice. In some locations, general dentists have tried to improve their education and skills to allow themselves to perform some specific specialty procedures—perhaps even some orthodontics.
As we discover in this month’s cover feature, there are interesting trends guiding the practice of orthodontics in both specialist and general dental practices. First, a greater number of general dentists are becoming increasingly knowledgeable in the area of malocclusion, and its implications for restorative case success. As a result, they’re able to more readily communicate their needs to their specialist colleagues. Some are applying that knowledge themselves by performing limited orthodontic treatment in-house in their own practice.
Consider the Stable Foundation. Orthodontics sets the stage for the much-sought-after cosmetic restorative work that many patients demand. Every patient is unique, and orthodontic materials and treatment methods have changed considerably over the years. There are many more options to satisfy individual requirements, and it’s becoming more necessary for general dental practitioners to become involved in the process. Because orthodontics inherently affects all other aspects of oral health—including endodontic and periodontal—monitoring orthodontic treatments enables clinicians to undertake a comprehensive approach to patient care so that the entire practice team can actively participate.
Tallying up the Trends. Technology…information transfer through media messages…consumerism…simplified techniques: All of these have shifted the perception of orthodontics from “necessary childhood evil” to “par-for-thecourse cosmetic procedure.” It’s a win-win for everyone involved as long as we keep at the forefront of our minds what is best for the patient; the skill set we need to accomplish what we’re hoping to do; and who should be handling cases that are more involved or complex.
It’s Time for Teamwork. More and more often we read the message that, as professionals, none of us is an island. While we may need our respective autonomy, we also need our colleagues. We may need to be knowledgeable and basically skilled in as many areas of dentistry as we can, if for no other reason than we need to be able to engage ourselves in meaningful discourse and consultation with our peers for the benefit of our patients. But we also need to collaborate with and truly involve our specialist colleagues when faced with cases beyond our normal routine.
On behalf of everyone at Inside Dentistry, thank you for reading. We hope you enjoy this issue and feel motivated to once again explore new ways of skillfully broadening the scope of the quality general dentistry you pro-vide to your patients, perhaps now taking a keen look at your cases to see if and how they might benefit from orthodontic care. Please continue to share your thoughts and reflections about our editorial coverage with us by sending your letters and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, thank you for your continued support.
With warm regards,
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine