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a blog by Chris Barrow

The European Society of Aesthetic Orthodontics

I have to be very careful what I say here as a non-clinician and avoid making myself a target for the few well-known socio-mediapaths who wait stealthily for the author of every bold, outrageous or provocative opinion so that they can rubbish the view and often personally insult the originator as an antidote to their own lack of self-esteem. Much has been said on-line and in debates about the subject of GDP’s delivering orthodontics since the infamous Guardian advertisement. The debate at the BACD conference seemed to calm emotions. A recent BDJ article has rekindled the fire. Any profession must establish standards and self-regulate – the alternative is unimaginable and dangerous. In the course of any innovative period there will be pioneers and those who defend the status-quo. Unfortunately, both camps can be populated by a minority who bugger things up for everyone else. The pioneers can sometimes be either unconsciously incompetent or improperly motivated to take innapropriate risks. The traditionalists can sometimes call for heads on the basis that any change is bad and appear as Luddites. Neither are attractive and both can make the profession an easy target for those who would criticise, condemn and complain (and the growing breed of litigators who smell a success fee). Some of the more vocal in the “against” camp on GDP ortho have resembled executives in the music industry, refusing to accept the on-line development of new channels for artists to connect with their audience. A form of denial that has cost them market share as well as respect. History will tell whether representatives of the specialist orthodontic camp have missed an opportunity here to expand their membership and their reach. In the absence of any such olive branch, a small team of un-paid volunteers have created a new Association that historically started as a conversation on Facebook and has evolved into an inaugural conference held last Saturday and attended by 130 dentists, including some very well respected GDP’s, orthodontists and visitors from at least 3 other European countries. The content of the day was outstanding and focused on COMPETENCE AND STANDARDS, with numerous examples of good and bad treatment planning and a host of data, handouts and guides for the audience. An honest admission that GDP’s need help in understanding the long-term implications of treatment and a desire to raise the bar as far as clinical care is concerned. My own exposure to the “STO” world has been accelerated by my role as an advisor to the Board at Cfast and lecturer on their courses. It was predictable but disappointing in a recent on-line thread to read a post that denigrated marketing lectures sponsored by STO providers (I’m not the only lecturer and Cfast are not the only provider that runs them). As a business coach, I have focused on how to bring the subject to the attention of the public in a clear and ethical manner, avoiding some of the more “commercial” marketing that seems to have drawn the negative attention in on-line debates. I would agree that some of the marketing in this sector is sensationalist (as we were reminded by DPS on Saturday) – although no different from the “life-changing” claims from those who retail other dental products and services. I have no doubt that the celebrity endorsement of STO will be seen by some as controversial in this context (he said as he shared a video post on Facebook from The X-Factor 2013 finalists Rough Copy). Like the “nip and tuck” industry, we have to be careful to avoid claims that dentistry can improve your chances of a better future/career/relationship – or the lawyers will pick up the scent. The debate is by no means over but let me make one thing absolutely clear. If you provide STO under your roof, you MUST seriously consider joining in with the members at the ESAO because in numbers will come strength, the resources to share further knowledge and a voice at the debating table. Don’t miss this boat.

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