If you read my book ‘Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist’ you would quickly pick up the message that I had a bad attitude related to both cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics. Why would a small time general dentist try to make a stink about the purists and the experts? The real reason was the ADA sat back and allowed a group of doctors to systematically attempt to destroy my practice after I began offering ’shorter term orthodontics.’ It made me question the whole dental profession and the closer I looked the more problems I discovered…I felt they were in no position to cast stones. The experience that I had apparently is not an isolated event, but some dental associations allow disputes to spin out of control and others try to nip turf wars in the bud.
I really had no idea that orthodontists in my area would feel threatened by cosmetic orthodontics, since they had a long list of referring dentists (including myself). My niche is simply people who want to have straighter teeth in a shorter amount of time, usually for a lower fee. My background training was described in another article, but the point here is even in an area where orthodontists are in short supply, they can resort to unsavory tactics to undermine your reputation.
The personalities involved attempted to blackball my practice in what I was told was a coordinated effort. Rather than lie quiet and let them have their way with me, I decided to expose the foolishness recently by posting a ‘Dentist Crime Stoppers Reward for $10,000.’ The levels of arrogance of my attackers combined with their passive-aggressiveness were almost humorous. The attacks were inspiring and gave me a bigger purpose, to lobby for a worthy niche between traditional orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. I chose to dig in and fight. The Achilles heels of both orthodontic and cosmetic dogma are easy targets, and it is clear that many patients are being mistreated by members of these camps due to twisted ideas that do not hold up under scrutiny.
When I read a specialty journal article that suggested orthodontists should report general dentists to the licensing body for aggressive marketing practices I had to laugh. Besides a possible Guinness Record for the most expensive tooth, I would surely win a second for most marketing complaints for a dentist. The surest way to dry up referrals is to report a general dentist to the marketing authorities. If orthodontists do the math, they will see that it is only their loss. Once a battle is initiated there is no going back but in the end this in-fighting will take the dental profession to a better place. Patients will have another alternative in any brand of STO that has as much merit as all the other choices that are currently promoted by heavily funded groups.
When I recently interviewed Dr. Clifton Georgaklis, who may have been the first to publish the concept of ‘six months cosmetic orthodontic treatment’, he described experiencing a few of the same issues and simply said it was best to ignore it. That’s not what I’m choosing to do.