I received this unsolicited email a couple days ago.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the phrase “When evolution means revolution” even means but I do know one thing – the “evolution” of “advanced engineering technologies” will not help the vast majority of orthodontists solve the number one problem facing practices in 2018. I also know that this is not the first company to effectively use groupthink and newspeak to captivate a fanatical fan base of orthodontists who believe what is “new” and what is “cool” and what “all their friends are doing” (creating community is a big part of the game) is their ticket to a successful orthodontic business/practice. In fact, when I met with the man in charge of Henry Schein Orthodontics‘ educational programs about a year ago and tried to explain (unsuccessfully) why teaching orthodontists how to run a business was better for orthodontists and for those selling to orthodontists in the long-term, I was told in no uncertain terms that he was responsible for the success of Damon Brackets and that he would do it again at HSO. I don’t know about the veracity of the first half of his statement but it would appear he fully intends to try and replicate what Ormco does so well in his new position at HSO.

Hopefully by now you’ve figured out the number one problem facing modern orthodontists is a lack of new patient flow and a lack of case starts. I’ve said it over and over and unless your practice is at the far right of the Bell Curve then I shouldn’t need to remind you of the lack.

Here’s another question I have for the true believers who pay 10 bucks a bracket more than you have to or hundreds of dollars per case for a device that adds a step and just simulates the Class II elastics that we have done for decades on regular old brackets/aligners :

How does buying something off the rack that anyone else can buy at any time make you and your practice special?

This is the conundrum I just cannot crack. Does it make sense to build your practice that you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars setting up on the branding and market position you get from a company who will gladly sell the exact same brackets, branding and support to your nearest orthodontist or general practitioner competitor?

In my younger days I desperately wanted to do what the cool kids did and I followed the crowd when it came to self-ligation among other “innovations”. But as we get older and more experienced shouldn’t we become wiser as well? How does spending all that extra money on something patients do not care about help your practice? (no, they don’t care about your brackets no matter what the company says, no matter what you think and no matter how often you tout said brackets them). What would happen if you used that same money on effective marketing that appeals to new customers instead of brand name tech that appeals to us orthodontic nerds?

In an era when new patients are hard to come by and brackets are available from hundreds of vendors and incredibly cheap, does it make sense to focus on things rather than people?

I think not.

Look, if you have all the new patients you want and you are happy with your results then, by all means, buy the cool brackets and other doohickeys that supposedly finish cases faster (finishing faster doesn’t help you it just makes financing harder – especially when you have more overhead from buying expensive brackets and other stuff) or gives you more capacity (when you already have excess capacity – look at all those empty chairs…) while lightening your wallet. This handful of orthodontic practices who have all the new patients they want is a very small segment of orthodontists so if you find yourself in the not so unique position of needing to improve your new patient flow then perhaps it’s time to stop listening to the cool kids and start looking out for the best interests of your practice, your patients, your team and your family? If you think really hard about this you can figure out what that is – no one knows better what’s good for your practice than you do.

Just a thought.

P.S. To be clear, this is not just about brackets and intra-oral doohickeys. It’s not just about the two companies mentioned here. This piece is about questioning why you spend time and money on anything that doesn’t appreciably improve your ability to render treatment to a broader pool of potential customers (which should be our goal as individuals and as a profession). If you want to solve what ails you then focus on what ails you instead of what is appealing and familiar to us by our nature and our training. Most of the best ideas/strategies/techniques for doing so are freely available, free to implement and incredibly effective. Implementation is the key, however, and this is much more difficult than just ordering some new technology that promises revolution.

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