New Year Hopes and Dreams
I usually start the New Year with a post on my “hopes and dreams” for orthodontics. There is no doubt that this New Year is much more important for life in general than orthodontics. However, we can still look forward with positivity. So, here are my hopes and dreams for orthodontics in 2021.
I really hope that orthodontic conferences can start up again. I have just been told that the AAO meeting in Boston will be delayed until June 2021. Unfortunately, I was due to give the Salzmann lecture for 2020 at this meeting, but I cannot attend the June date. However, I hope that I can provide it virtually. I was really looking forward to giving this because it was going to be my last lecture. I was also sharing the session with Lois Carriere (massive KOL for HSO), and it would have been fun fact-checking him!
Hopefully, as the pandemic begins to subside following the vaccination programmes, I will start giving online seminars. During the first lockdowns, I did some of these, and I enjoyed providing remote presentations from my study. This suited my personality perfectly!
I will also be putting all my lectures up on the blog site. This may take a little while because I need to work on presenting these in high-quality formats. But I hope to get this done by early spring.
This blog has improved since Padhraig Fleming joined me as co-editor. His posts have a different style to mine, and we interface well. I hope that we continue to improve over the next year.
The scientific literature.
I have made a plea every year for an improvement in the orthodontic literature. There is no doubt that orthodontic research has continued to improve. Furthermore, many trials and systematic reviews have provided evidence on new and conventional treatments. However, we need to improve the quality and size of our trials. We should also ensure that we are measuring outcomes relevant to practitioners and patients- our new Core Outcome Set should help with this. Furthermore, it would be great to see the journal editors tighten up, as some flawed trials were published last year.
I would also like to see fewer systematic reviews. While there have been some great reviews over the past few years. Unfortunately, it is frustrating to see many low-quality reviews that include retrospective studies or only 1-2 small RCTs. These all seem to conclude “the quality of the evidence is low and more research is needed”. This is not useful research and the journals should become more selective.
We all love what we do and take pride in what we offer our patients. We must focus our clinical efforts, our marketing, and clinical research on the skills that we offer. There is a worrying trend with clinicians subordinating to alliances. This has spawned new terminology such as ‘Damon Doctor’ and more recently ‘Invisalign Dentist’. As a result, our patients are confused, and our speciality is undermined. So let’s focus on advertising and improving our knowledge and skill-set, which we know to be far more influential in achieving optimal and predictable outcomes than any heavily-marketed trend or product.
The orthodontic fringe and Key Opinion Leaders
It would not be the “New Year” post without mentioning the orthodontic fringe and Key Opinion Leaders. You will note that I have mentioned them in the same section. This is because there is not much difference between the “fringe orthodontists” and some KOLs. So here is my usual plea.
“If you have an orthodontic theory or new whiz-bang treatment and you make claims for its benefit. It is incumbent on you to provide evidence on its effects”.
This is a simple, clear statement. So could the orthotropists, the bone growers, myofunctional orthodontists, expanders, 100% non-extractionists, orthodontic breathing physicians and the KOLS (Clinical salesmen) who promote magic brackets, wires and Class II correctors put up or shut up?
Finally, we all do a great job and improve many people’s lives. Let’s look forward to doing it this year!
That’s about it, and I hope that next year is so much better than 2020 for us all. It would be great is any readers could add their “hopes and dreams in the comments section?
Emeritus Professor of Orthodontics, University of Manchester, UK.