September 18, 2023

Ten Years of this blog. Have things changed?

I started this blog on September 1st, 2013. Since then, it has been read 3.9 million times. In this post, I intend to review my initial aims for my blog and evaluate the changes I have observed from the point of view of an academic orthodontist blogger.

My first post.

When I look back at this post, it was not very good. At that time in my career, I was finishing an administrative position with the UK dental regulator and looking forward to quieter and less stressful times. In my post, I said that the main reason for starting a blog was to

“Present and discuss information and matters that are important to orthodontics and dentistry in an easy to access and open way”.

I also pointed out that we were at an important point in the development of orthodontics. Notably, several high-quality trials had been reported that added to our knowledge. However, the evidence base of our specialty was under threat from some companies and their paid clinical salespeople who were simply lying about the treatments they promoted.

I had no idea this blog would become so popular and perhaps influential in our speciality.

Hits and popular posts

I have reviewed the number of hits for the blog. This revealed that it took a couple of years to get going until, in 2016, hits increased to 350,000 per year. These numbers reached a maximum of 500,000 in the COVID-19 year of 2020. It has now reduced slightly to about 450,000 for the last four years, primarily due to reducing the number of posts to one a week.  The total number of hits is 3.8 million.

The most popular post has been “We need to talk about myofunctional orthodontics“. I published this in 2015, and it has been read 29,000 times. This perhaps reflects the interest in this treatment by healthcare professionals and laypeople. The least popular post was from 2020 and was  ‘Orthodontic treatment and dental health: Chasing Rainbows”?. This was read only 2,500 times. This post was by Padhraig Fleming, but it was about a paper that I had published. It dealt with the tricky question of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Perhaps people did not want to hear this message, or readers were not interested in my research. I want to point out that Padraig’s posts usually attract many readers.

Things I have enjoyed.

My blog has given me great satisfaction, and seeing that it is so popular is great. Now that I have retired from clinical and research practice for a few years, it gives me a weekly focus and allows me to keep in touch with our specialty.  I have learned a lot from the literature and the many comments that readers have made (I still do not understand clear aligners).

I have enjoyed highlighting both good and bad research. I hope this has added to our understanding of treatment and research methods.

It has also been interesting to call out the KOLs and the other unscrupulous people in our profession. Subjectively, their influence seems to be waning, and I wonder if we are tiring of them. But they keep bouncing back, and sometimes I feel I am just playing “whack a mole”.

Working with Padhraig as a significant contributor and, more recently, Martyn Cobourne with his “back to basics” series has also been great. We have also had great posts by guest contributors who have all added to the variety of the blog.

I am also incredibly grateful for the support given by people who have donated to help support the costs of running this blog.  Thanks to their donations, I now have professionally written software and a website that runs on a fast server with no downtime.  This has resulted in a great improvement from the early days.

Things that were not so good


While most things have been good, when I look back, there are some matters that I am so pleased with. Firstly, in the first few years of posting, I realised that I overdid it with some people who were KOls. I now regret this and am doing my best to avoid these mistakes.

I also became involved with social media discussions with the orthodontic fringe and other groups. This was not good, as it ultimately affected my mental health, which was unpleasant. Since then, I have become less confrontational. I will not go down these paths again, and I have reduced my social media interactions.

Where do we go from here?

Surprisingly, I have achieved my aims for writing this blog. However, social media and blogging are rapidly changing, and I need to keep up. I have consulted with experts in this field and am persuaded to start podcasts. I have invested in the necessary equipment and shall do these soon.

I am now in my mid-sixties; I have a free bus pass! Retirement is great fun, and I have sufficient energy and time to continue writing and building this site. However, all things must pass, and I will be looking for people to write more posts and take a role in keeping this going. I think this blog is good, but we can improve it!

I would be grateful for any suggestions on what we can do better in the comments section of this post.

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Have your say!

  1. A decade of inquiry, debate , frustration and fun. Thanks Kevin for the opportunity to learn alongside colleagues from all over the world. VV

  2. Dear Kevin,

    Your academic career is truly unparalleled, and you serve as a guiding star for everyone in our field. I strive daily to conduct myself better and be more ethical because I feel your watchful presence. You cannot fathom the immense impact you have on our wonderful profession.

    Moreover, your blog was the very first pioneering online source of committed scientific information. All subsequent attempts, including my own, pale in comparison. In your recently published summary, I greatly admire your honest reflection on engaging with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and the influence of social media discussions on your mental well-being. It takes great strength to acknowledge these challenges, and it means a lot to me to see someone of your stature share similar thoughts and struggles.

    Thank you for safeguarding our profession and adding the essential element of ethics, along with a generous dose of scientific zeal.

    Sincerely, BJÖRN

    • A fantastic response to an honest and open-hearted summary. We are a blessed profession, continuing to strive for improvement. Thank you both.

    • Dear Bjorn you just said everything we would like to say. Thank you dear Kevin for these 10 years of sharing your thoughts!

  3. Thank you sooo much from Bavaria! I love your blogs and wish you good health and energy !!! cordially
    Hans Seeholzer

  4. Dear Kevin O’Brien,

    thanks a lot for your blog! Björn Ludwig has strongly recommended it to me many years ago and I’m almost sure that since then I did not miss a single post. I was fascinated to hear about your new podcast series and I so greatly look forward to listen to it.

    Thank you as well for all your efforts of this decade of often eye-opening and very valuable information that added greatly to our profession.

    Kind regards,
    Jörg Glockengießer

  5. Kevin!
    It’s such a great pleasure to read a “non-orthodontic” post for you .
    The podcast is an excellent idea.
    I personally love listening to podcasts while driving.
    Finally, I’m so glad you’re enjoying your retirement.
    Take care.

  6. For me Kevin O’Brien blog is part of my Monday morning routine.

    I had the fortune to train at Manchester, and initially it was about making sure I didn’t get caught out as a trainee, but after qualifying the blog has been an easy way to digest research, and sometimes difficult research, into a format which makes both the results and strength of the research clear.

    I would like to thank Kevin for the hardwork, time and effort he has put in ovet the years.

    It has influenced my practice, I will evaluate the strength of the research and value of papers I read routinely, and try to make my own kevinobrien type analysis (a much poorer version of).

    Many thanks Kevin

  7. Great idea on podcasts Kevin.

  8. Thanks from the bottom of my heart, Kevin. I have faithfully read your blog post for innumerable years. You opened the eyes of a lot about carefully interpreting critical data that was becoming available to all of us. I was also amazed that there was so much to learn about between your perspective and those of the readers who took the leap of faith to either support or disagree with your point of view!
    Social media has and will keep evolving. Sadly, your mental health suffered, but the reality is that we all suffer mental health issues during our lives. Thanks for sharing that. Not everything that shines is gold – you and those who dared to post indirectly have benefitted tons of patients through your comments to us. It is a fascinating journey, and you have been a guiding light in our pathway.

  9. I have enjoyed reading the blogs over the last few years. I appreciate the insight and time you have dedicated to the Orthodontic profession. We all have had our moments going down the social media rabbit hole! Thank you and enjoy your retirement!

  10. Kevin:
    Thanks to you and to your countrymen Padhraig Fleming, Martin Cobourne, Andrew DiBiase and so many others whom have stayed the course of intellectual honesty and analysis against commercial interests advanced by too many in our specialty who who place their own interests ahead of those of the patient.

    As it is said, “If you hear it three times, it must be true.” You and too few, stand as beacons in shouting down the myths that have been so often propagated by the ‘snake oil salesmen.’

    You should be proud of your service. I know I am.

    Keep up the good work.

    Don Oliver, Saint Louis, MO USA

  11. Huge fan of the blog and your insights and interpretation into actual literature and research. It is something that we need more of in our profession.
    Please keep it going and explore additional avenues.
    I would suggest short videos weekly of the exact same idea. You could explore a topic or publication each week for 5-10 min and add your interpretation of the topic/literature.
    Thanks for all the hard work!

  12. I have enjoyed your wisdom and knowledge to point out both good and bad research. It has added to my understanding of treatment and research which can be beneficial (and believed) and which is only an opinion ( sometimes with a money trail).
    A podcast would be great addition to the blog.

  13. I have thoroughly enjoyed the blogs and, also being in the same age range as you and retired, they keep my mind active. I have been an orthodontist for 25 years and although retired for quite a few years now, the interest in orthodontics never leaves.

  14. Hi Kevin
    Thank you for all the time invested in doing what you do! This is great four our specialty and for the science. I had the pleasure to spend time with you, doing research and translating your posts. I learnt so much doing this. I will greatfull forever. I hope you continue spiring all of us.
    Best wishes,
    Klaus Batista

  15. Kevin,
    You are, quite simply, an inspiration to all: those training, those trained and the retired. You provide stimulating, considered & formidable opposition to the KOL’s and the snake-oil salesman. It’s interesting that you found a happy balance with your blog, away from the razor edge of social media – a salutary lesson learnt the hard way! Congratulations on the anniversary!
    I very much look forward to your podcast.

  16. Since 2003 and having the chance of non-stop learning from you, is a great pleasure and can not say thank you enough.

    To continue reading this Blog, is what will be a routine for me.
    Podcast , great idea.

    My generation is very much trusted academics. Waiting for them to confirm the new ideas and innovations. To test and challenge companies products.

    Looking forward to learn more.

  17. Thanks Kevin for your summaries and objectivity. Please continue to inform us for the foreseeable future !


  18. Yes, podcasts, please!! Looking forward to it

  19. Great blog. Always inspiring.

  20. Thanks for your valuable contribution Prof. Kevin as being the voice that many of us don’t have, spreading knowledge and helping those who wants to practice this beautiful specialty seriously and with responsibility. I make this blog as my daily/weekly reading, and a guide for the best practice.

  21. and PLEASE…keep up with the fantastic job!

  22. I started read your blog at the very beginning of my University studying and it’s a pleasant to go with your blog through all these years.

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