An honest and genuine response from an orthodontist to the dental community
Dear Dental Colleagues,
A few days ago I shared my opinion with you all on my professional Facebook timeline. It was then shared by someone whom I didn’t know on a secret closed dental group called DPR. I understand no permission was required from me to repost or share the post since my post was public. However the sharing of it in DPR created some intensity and passion, both positive and negative. Today I would like to be as transparent, honest and genuine as I can in my response to that post.
I would like to start by saying that I thank every one for their opinions & comments. Some were valid, some off topic and others philosophical and questioning.
My original post was nothing but my own truth and my opinion based on my personal experiences. It was never meant to single out the entire specialist orthodontic profession as greedy or selfish as some have perceived it to be. I am part of the same profession too. It was purely meant to state that there are still some individuals who question me, misinterpret my intentions and advise me to turn back and stop teaching dentists via BOSS. And that’s all good and valid as they are individual opinions, however the objection has sometimes been based on their business growth and profits, which I pointed as $$$$$. I personally perceive this to be short-sighted and selfish. I have been given other reasons as well, to name some – that I might be turning my back on the profession as a group and its wellbeing by continuing teaching dentists how to do orthodontics. We all have a human need for belonging together as a tribe and I can understand that reasoning a lot better than the former. Everyone inherently thinks they are good at heart and want to do their best everyday. Orthodontists and dentists are no different.
To clarify my statement made and to be as transparent as possible, there have also been some orthodontists who have come up to me and told me that what I was trying to do (provide quality orthodontic knowledge to general dentists via BOSS) is a great endeavour and they wish me success. Some offered to lecture and to get involved, few did and it was wonderful and extremely well received by the dentists attending in 2016-17. Some of those that lectured were not only the more experienced orthodontists but also from the younger generation. I distinctly remember a few young orthodontists highly encouraged me to actually start BOSS around 2015 and were very supportive of it.
Since I’m being as honest as possible, starting BOSS was a very bold step for me and it still is for me to continue. It is not one I take lightly but I know this is needed to help empower the dental profession and help minimise the divide between dentists and orthodontists. It has been so rewarding to watch many dentists attend, improve their understanding of the evidence-based orthodontics of today and hence I continue to move forward with my teaching endeavours. I believe teaching dentists will help improve referral paths to orthodontic specialists in the long term by increasing their understanding of risks and their own competencies. Being a research-based practitioner, I collect data all the time, love to track metrics and changes. Hopefully one day I will have some data to share with the industry.
With technology and direct to consumer businesses on the rise, not far from our shores, we are at the edge of a major paradigm shift in the way orthodontics will be delivered in the future. In fact more than ever there is now an urgent need to teach quality and predictable orthodontics to dentists and raise public awareness together as an industry.
I am certainly not a crusader for GP dentists or a shining light as some people have commented. There are times I will refuse to coach a case simply because I don’t believe that particular dentist would be capable of handling it or due to its complexity. Other times I will help, when a dentist clearly understands the diagnosis, risk management strategies and evidence behind their treatment planning. This type of education and evidence-based knowledge empowers not just dentist but all specialists too.
I did start BOSS for non profit for a year. Unfortunately without profit or income I couldn’t afford to run it any longer. Even some of the supportive attending dentists and orthodontists said why should I not charge, were genuinely surprised how I was running it for free and that I should be rewarded for my time like everyone else. I have continued to educate about 2 – 3 dentists per year completely free of charge. We hold 4-6 free events that give evidence based lectures, bring different specialists in and extend the education given beyond the paid courses. This is on top of my 2-3 pro bono cases per year I undertake in my own clinical practice (CCC Smiles) and free educational events I organise for local dentists. I’m also continuing my passion for research and starting clinical trials in my own practice, all funded by myself.
I say all this today with humility and in no way as a brag. I feel grateful that I have reached at a position where I have the ability to give back more than before. To be completely honest, personal and raw – I do not fancy designer clothes, cars, jewellery, investments, etc. They have never driven me to work. What drives me is this position I have created for myself to be able to make a positive difference on a bigger scale. The above will be true for most people who truly enjoy their livelihood.
I am not painting that I’m better than anyone else or on a higher ground, but that I’m passionate about giving back as well, just like most people with good intentions at heart. I’m passionate about my profession and so proud to be in this position today. My post was fuelled by that passion and was solely placed on my timeline. It was to say a big NO to my detractors and the nay-ers and in no way a generalisation.
I hope we can all move forward positively as a profession together. I know we can! I really hope this has helped us all bond even more today. Thank you all for your time.
Dr Vandana Katyal