Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the majority of the world’s population, I’ve spent the past few weeks at home. This made me reflect on my orthodontic path and also on my writings in this blog, which I started 3 years ago. It was initially planned as some sort of a road journal to document the landscape I see around advancing on my way.
In retrospect, I can’t help feeling that the bulk of what I have seen and depicted was not about orthodontics, but rather DIY orthodontics…
It is then logical to start with drawing a border between these two terms.
Orthodontics is a combination of art and science. The treatment is done by a properly trained specialist who rely on research data, personal experience and the preferences of a patient.
DIY orthodontics is just moving teeth around. The results are unpredictable and unstable. This is done either without any supervision of an orthodontist or by those ‘specialists’ who lack a proper training.
Here it is important to make clear what the proper training is? Thanks to the beautifully structured WFO guidelines for orthodontic education we know the answer to this question in great detail.
Although we can speculate that some big names of the past, such as Tweed, Brodie, Downs, etc. had not been through such programmes and this didn’t impede them from becoming great orthodontists. This is really a strong argument and I’ll return to it later.
Since I studied, work and live in Moscow, I spent a lot of thinking trying to grasp post-Soviet orthodontiya. I once describe it as “a strange mix of communist bureaucracy and marketing obsession”, then as “an amusing quackery”, next as “a thing one won’t be able to understand”. Now I am coming to a conclusion that it’s better not to think of it at all…
I now consider post-Soviet orthodontiya another example of DIY orthodontics, albeit overgrown into a national phenomenon. Just as Smile Direct Club or other similar ventures it has been established by people who have never troubled themselves learning the basics of the specialty prior to getting busy with making money. If they had no time thinking about orthodontics, why should I indulge myself into thinking about them: this only makes me irritated or depressed.
Clearly, living in the epicentre of the orthodontic crisis is not a motivating experience. But it would be wrong not to highlight the existence of exceptionally skilful orthodontists around. Despite all odds, there is a number of Russian orthodontists who present good results while living at the outskirts of orthodontic civilisation. What makes them an exception to the rule and what relates them with the giants I mentioned previously? I’d say caring. Caring about a patient, colleagues and the future.
I think caring is that secret powerful tool that sometimes outweighs a formal education and leads to exceptional results. And obviously true caring doesn’t have time for skirmishing with marginal provocateurs.
I really feel I’ve lost too much energy trying to investigate and debunk the evil roots of post-Soviet orthodontics. And I feel it doesn’t worth more efforts. Therefore, this is my last post on DIY orthodontics.
I thought for some time what could be the next meaningful step for this blog? I work as a full-time orthodontist for less than 6 years, so I don’t have a moral stance to educate or give advice, but I don’t see a problem in transferring the knowledge from more experienced colleagues.
All in all, I decided to synch this blog with my Orthodontic Book Review channel on YouTube. I am going to write and make videos on the books I read and consider useful for others. And I am going to forget about DIY orthodontics completely.
I wish everyone the strength to keep calm and carry on doing things you care about during the quarantine.