I want to write a short post that would be helpful to newly graduated orthodontists. I have been practicing orthodontics for more than five years and done a plethora of mistakes. Here I will highlight the most significant ones.
1. I tried to correct excessive overjets during mixed dentition.
In my first year I tried to use Twin Blocks and eruption guidance appliances to correct class II relationship in mixed dentition cases (this was the misconception I inherited from my orthodontic residency). The next year, I witnessed complete or partial relapses in all the cases.
I now wait for the pubertal growth spurt to start class II treatment. The exception is the concerns on the upper incisors trauma or bulling issues. This approach corresponds with the literature and frees a child from an unnecessary stress at such an early age.
2. I experimented with different bracket designs and prescriptions.
I used different bracket types and different prescriptions. Apparently, I did it because was unaware of a scientifically proven little difference between them. As a result, at some point all my patients had different appliances and it was a complete muddle to find a proper new bracket in case of broken or lost one. I now use the most traditional .022 MBT mini-twin brackets on all of my patients. When I need small adjustments, I can either reposition brackets or put bends on a wire.
3. I didn’t have time to document well.
I was so busy with unnecessary early treatment and the degustation of the new appliances that I was often missing to take progress photos and radiographs. I am now convinced that without them it is impossible to fully understand biomechanics and correct your mistakes.
4. I tried to enhance orthodontic infrastructure in my area.
Conditions in which orthodontics is practicing in the country I live in were a huge disappointment of mine for years: removable appliances are still much more popular than fixed, no filter mechanism to assess the results exists and western orthodontic literature is blocked by self-proclaimed professors. About four years ago, I wrote the proposal for the establishment of an orthodontic board, then several times visited the Ministry of Healthcare trying to get my message across and spent uncountable hours talking and writing to different authorities.
Now I know that there are just so many people I can help. And they are my immediate patients. I now focus on improving my own skills and the only orthodontic infrastructure I am enhancing is at the clinics where I work.
5. I used to talk about orthodontics in Russian.
Language is the single most precious orthodontic tool. How could orthodontists interact with one another without specific orthodontic vocabulary: ‘o-ties’, ‘tip backs’, ‘torque’ and a hundred more words and collocations that sound a discombobulate chatter for a lay person but are the verbal instruments we operate with on a daily basis. Not to mention cephalometric terms and the scientific literature, which is written exclusively in English.
I think not speaking English well is the most crucial orthodontic mistake one could make. I spent all my five and a half years after residency correcting it.
I now plan and document in English. As a result, I gained some clarity I had been missing before.
I hope this text will help younger colleagues. I do not know all the answers and never will. However, these five bruises caused me pain which I do not want anyone to experience.