A brief guide on how to find a trusted orthodontist in the Former Soviet Union
In the early 1900s, teeth straightening started to evolve into an independent dental specialty in the city of Saint Louis, which at that time was considered one of the major US trade centers due to its central location in the middle of the country. Since then, the specialty has gradually developed during the century into the science of orthodontics. After the WWII, Western European and UK dentists were the first to take advantage of the American orthodontic heritage. They have added valuable research and clinical knowledge to the specialty and established postgraduate programs, which by the end of the 20thcentury started to welcome a large number of students from economically growing parts of Asia and the Middle East. It appears today that orthodontics is the conventional modality for fixing crooked teeth around the world, despite the existence of some alternative teeth straightening techniques…
In the 1980s, Soviets invented orthodontiya. This method was not able to develop much because of the economic collapse of the USSR. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, orthodontiya was soon turned into the chaotic process of selling orthodontic appliances directly to the public. Neither patients nor doctors had ever saw these appliances before. “Treatment” was often started without any diagnostics and almost always with significant legal violations. Even though many post-Soviet doctors started to proclaim themselves professors and PhD’s in orthodontiya, the blunt truth is that none of them had even graduated from a full-time postgraduate program in orthodontics. Nevertheless, since the late 1990s, post-Soviet “orthodontic pioneers” started to establish their own postgraduate programs, which up to the present day do not meet the requirements for postgraduate education by the World Federation of Orthodontists, the most credible international orthodontic organization. Furthermore, there are no research data to suggest that brave new orthodontiya is as effective as conventional orthodontics.
But even if a country does not have a credible specialty for carrying out orthodontic treatment, it does not mean that good orthodontists do not exist there. Many skillful self-taught orthodontists who speak relatively good English dwell at the post-Soviet territories. Furthermore, there is a definite method to find such specialists. The only way to assess the skills of an orthodontist is to look at the results that are achieved. An orthodontic board is an organization which assesses the skills of an orthodontist by scrutinizing diagnostic records, treatment plans and results of treatment. There are several orthodontic boards that have been established by experienced orthodontists around the world. Fortunately, the European Board of Orthodontists provides its services to all European orthodontists including the specialists from the Former Soviet Union, thus providing an opportunity for an orthodontist to achieve Board Certification. I encourage every dentist who is referring patients to any post-Soviet country to inform them about this issue. By choosing a board-certified orthodontist a patient ensures oneself that treatment will be done by an experienced specialist in accordance with contemporary internationally-approved protocols.