Family traditions

Last week, I published a post where I stated that it is important for an orthodontist to know the history of the specialty. I also briefly mentioned board certification, indicating that it is one of the greatest orthodontic traditions.

Today I would like to look closer at several other traditions and traits that have shaped our specialty.

On the road to the Charles Tweed Foundation, June 2019

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On genealogy

I know very a few about my genealogy. As many families in modern Russia, mine for generations had been unable to communicate with the relatives outside the USSR.

I started this year with a short trip to Italy to pick up my DNA kit and do a test to finally find some data on my ancestry. Unfortunately, there is no shipment to Russia.

I have no intent to go into personal details since this blog is dedicated primarily to orthodontics, but I can’t help feeling that knowing your own history is not less important for a specialist than for an individual.

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Phoenix generation

I have recently finished reading a wonderful book titled ‘The Golden Age of Orthodontics’ by a senior Californian orthodontist, Dr Norman Wahl. It was a true delight: honest, passionate and thorough analysis of the evaluation of orthodontic specialty by the person who himself participated in the process since the graduation in 1963.

The author has defined and described three main periods in the formation of the specialty:

• 1930-50 From the Depression to the Golden Age
• 1950-70 The Golden Age
• 1970-80s Decline

He has also illustrated the present situation with all of its disagreeable features: tremendous student loans, deficit in academic staff, the encroachment of teledentistry, etc.


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Orthodontic professors who are not

In recent years, I have seen a lot of inappropriate use of academic titles in orthodontics and dentistry in general. I think this is a serious problem. This may be especially hazardous for young specialists who are not enough experienced to distinguish truth from imitation.

In this post, I will briefly describe my experience in communication with pseudo-professors and indicate some potential measures the orthodontic specialty may develop to address this issue…


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The Heart of Darkness

I always had a special feeling to Joseph Conrad. Apparently, some Polish genes or the fact that I spent my very first years by the sea or English that has also become for me more useful than a first tongue… I don’t know. But I can’t stop feeling that the landscape around is not getting any brighter.

In this post I decided to write on a rather unappealing topic: orthodontic colonialism. I came up with this term recently, however I am certain that I have been experiencing its effects for the last seven years. This all started at my residency in Moscow. The quality of education was low. Most of the things we were taught were bluntly wrong. We were told jaws can be grown, extractions are unnecessary and comprehensive early treatment is what you should definitely do to every child who enters your office. Furthermore, the only brackets we were obliged to use were self-ligating brackets from a famous American manufacturer.  

After residency, I started travelling to explore orthodontic landscapes in different parts of the world. To my surprise many eastern European colleagues were telling me that they have had similar experience during their postgraduate studies: several big brands would make deals with the heads of orthodontic programmes that would subsequently result in an uncontrolled flow of biased information to orthodontic students. I can’t help feeling that this to a degree resembles the deals western colonizers would make with the heads of indigenous tribes buying lands and slaves in exchange for glass beads and other trinkets.

The Conciliation, 1840 by Benjamin Duterrau

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The most meaningful things in orthodontics I am aware of

I have recently returned from Italy where I have been taking a course in orthodontic mechanics specific to treating adult patients. It was held in the city of La Spezia by a famous Italian orthodontist, Giovanni Biondi, who, among many other titles, is a secretary general of the Italian Association of Specialists in Orthodontics and an ambassador of Italy in the American Association of Orthodontists. I have learnt several useful tips and tricks and am sure this will help me a great deal since during this year I am experiencing a surge in the number of adult patients.

I also had a chance to visit Florence where I clearly have been through a condition called Stendhal syndrome. Our host in the city was an Italian psychoanalyst and a specialist in Carl Jung. The apartment was packed with books and journals on the subject. Most of them were in Italian, so I did not have a chance to expand my knowledge in psychoanalysis. However, even my superficial acquittance with Jung and perhaps the atmosphere of this beautiful psychoanalytic studio turned apartment made me come back home in a “Jungian” mood. It is known that the pivotal topic of the Swiss psychoanalyst was the quest for meaning in a life of an individual. So, for this blog post I decided to dig for the most meaningful things in orthodontics I am aware of. Surprisingly, it was an easy task…

Moses Beholds All the Work, 1966 by Marc Chagall, a world-famous Russian-French artist

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Should we treat others as we want to be treated?

Last week, I watched an interview which brought me some tough time thinking. It was Neal Kravitz interview on Facebook. He is a famous American board-certified orthodontist based in South Riding and Ashburn, Virginia. He has published dozens of articles in all the major orthodontic journals. These texts are always explicit and helpful. He is also very active on Facebook (Orthodontic Pearls group) sharing useful pieces of clinical knowledge. Once I even translated one of his texts into Russian for Kevin O’Brien’s orthodontic blog.

In the interview, Neal discussed several issues regarding practice management, the importance of good documentation, relationships between colleagues, etc. Everything in his positive though pragmatic style. I like this attitude. He spoke a lot on the importance of being tolerant to imperfect referral cases from our peers and the need to protect each other in the eyes of our patients.

If we look closely, the overall message of this one-hour interview can be simplified to a pivotal philosophical concept of the entire western civilisation: treat others like you want to be treated. And this is where my tough time started…

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On reading

A friend of mine, a Moscow-based maxillofacial surgeon, once had a playful sticker on the bonnet of his laptop, it went: ‘Reading is sexy’. No doubt, reading is an excitement, a pleasure and often provides long-awaitied answers for troublesome questions. However, as with any pleasurable activities reading requires some protective measures…

André Kertesz, from ‘On Reading’ series

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Smile Delight


– So, if we do not have more proposals for today, we are happy to announce the end of our board meeting…

– Lieutenant O’Neal-00, I have one more for your consideration.

– OK, sergeant G-84, very briefly, please…

– Uploading the data…

– Oh, c’mon! Have you undergone the recent software update, sergeant?

– Yes, sir! Loading… 5 seconds, 3 seconds… Here we go…

Project name: Smile Delight

Project type: Self-destructive hypnosis

Pathophysiological mechanism: Digestion inhibition

Initial agent: Chewing disturbing device

– Sergeant! We do not harm them evidently! This is the violation of the rule number one! I am sorry to tell you, but…

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On language

Language is the best orthodontic tool. The language. The specialized English language that has been cultivated on the pages of orthodontic literature during the last one hundred years.

Two years ago, I started my blog with a question ‘Can we study orthodontics in a foreign language?’ I came to a negative conclusion then. I didn’t change my mind today. However, I want to share some thoughts on language again. Particularly on my mother tongue…

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A sculpture “Forward” by Erik Bulatov, a prominent Russian/Soviet non-conformist artist. Photo: courtesy to a/political and the artist

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