For a long time I have  been wondering if I can help patients by being able to offer orthodontic treatment for relatively simple cases like the ones in the image.

These type of cases, are often seen with patients in the practice, and then the question became, can I treat those patients efficiently? And the answer wasn’t known to me at the time, but I was prepared to find out. 

Being a general dentist, I used to think about orthodontic treatment as if it is a myth. All I knew was classification of malocclusion, some terminology and definitions, and to write a referral. 

I always wondered if I can learn orthodontics, treat cases, and build my knowledge and experience overtime. I was driven by the motive of being able to identify problems, learn new skill, be able to offer more to patients, and still refer cases that are well beyond my skills and knowledge.

Initially, i wanted to be able to do simple alignment similar to what clear aligner treatment offer, but with more predictability than clear aligners, in part due to the tracking issues.

Then I wanted to help patients who needed veneers and/or crowns to modify and improve shape and shade of front teeth, especially if the case is complicated with mal-aligned teeth.  

Before knowing anything about orthodontics, I used to refer them to the orthodontist, or offer them clear aligners, and when they refuse to proceed with treatment, excessive cutting through tooth structure was sometimes unavoidable, and occasionally, intentional root canal treatment. 

To me, being able to offer clear aligners, was a good thing, but I didn’t know much about the mechanics of orthodontic treatment. It was not under my control, and often, it wasn’t tracking well, and refinements or revisions were unavoidable.

Since then, learning orthodontics has been (and still is!) an exciting journey and enabled me to look at dental problems from more than just a cosmetic/restorative perspective. It’s interesting for me due to its process from collecting data, analysis, decision on treatment plan, and long term follow up and retention.

I started to offer patients more options, and utilise orthodontic treatment to serve other specialties. Each case is unique, with more than one aspect to consider. It is challenging but not difficult. 

The way I see occlusion, profile, alignment, midlines and a lot more has changed dramatically since I started my journey in orthodontics. I will continue to learn, and get to know more, be able to offer more to patients and challenge myself because I like to do so.

“The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

Thank you to Dr Karim for providing this insight into his Orthodontic Education Journey. Dr Geoff Hall