In power lifting, the heavier the weight you can lift the more points you score. Orthodontics isn’t judged by the same metrics yet we mistakenly believe that the harder the case, the more points we score and the more impressive it is. We love treating the hardest cases and showing them off to our buddies in our study groups so everyone can tell us how awesome we are. Worse still, we spend an inordinate amount of time and effort and money on these most difficult outliers AND we set policy for our entire practice based on the toughest cases.

Now, I’ll admit that if we were brain surgeons it would be a good idea to set policy based on the 1%ers because, well, someone could die otherwise. But we are not brain surgeons. We aren’t real doctors and many would claim that we aren’t even real dentists because of the elective and non-invasive nature of what we do. Orthodontics is not that hard – even in the most difficult cases – and there is no way we should apply the “rules” and techniques that are required in the toughest cases to the other 95% of cases we treat. It’s illogical and bad business for many, many reasons. Orthodontics is the Lee Press On Nails of dentistry and in all but the most extreme cases there is very little that can go wrong. It’s time to get over ourselves, recognize what we do and act accordingly. If you have a “tough case” and want to practice herodontics then do so (and I recommend charging 3-4 times more than the going rate for the effort) but we need to reexamine how we approach the 90+ percent of normal, straightforward cases we see and set policy (and pricing) based on what happens most of the time. Failing to do so will have dire consequences for orthodontists in the short and long term.

5 thoughts on “Orthodontists Are Like Power Lifters

  1. I appreciate you insights and your articles – they certainly get one thinking about oneself. However, hearing a ‘voice of doom’ about our profession, our work, what we do for patients all day seems a little melodramatic!! Now if anyone ever asks me what kind of dr I am, I am the first one to introduce myself as just an orthodontist with the disclaimer that ‘I am not the life saving kind of doctor’ so rest assured that I don’t need my ego soothened but I am a doctor and a dentist and don’t believe that We need to undermine what we do either!

  2. How is this doom or undermining the profession? First I’d ask you to tell me what I have said that is inaccurate. Next I’d ask why this is offensive or a negative to you? What we do is valuable and important. What we do changes peoples’ lives. We get paid very well for what we do and that will continue if we don’t mess it up. We don’t have emergencies, we don’t have to cut on people and no one dies from what we do. That’s all I’m saying so why is this offensive? I’m just suggesting we get a more realistic view of what we do. Though this is the first time I’ve written this particular view down, I’ve been saying it in my talks for years and years… how would you write this piece if you were to do so? Pls advise as to how you’d get the point across? Thanks for the comment

  3. Geez, I thought when I use my diode soft tissue laser, I was cutting people, l’m not!? 😂

  4. So what percentage of your pracrice income comes from doing this?

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