By Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA, FACD

Many orthodontists speak reverently about being a member of the orthodontic profession. Platitudes like “it’s good for the profession”, “we owe it to our profession”, and “we must protect our profession” are often posted on the Ortho101 Facebook Page. What a cock and bull story. I hate to be the one to break it to you but we are members of the Dental Profession who happen to practice the subspecialty of orthodontics.  Why orthodontists adopt such a grandiose view of what we do is incomprehensible. I’ve never met someone claiming to be a member of the periodontic profession or the endodontic profession. I have never heard any physician make reference to the gynecologic profession or the proctologic profession.  Physicians are part of the medical profession just as lawyers are part of the legal profession.

In the years preceding his death, Edward Angle wanted orthodontics to secede from the dental profession and become its own profession.  His minions lobbied the California state legislature and tried to push a bill through that would license orthodontists without requiring a dental school education and dental degree. Old Eddie was a shrewd businessman who just happened to run the only school of orthodontia in California (for profit if you were wondering).  Fortunately, Rod Ottelengui, a non-Angle school orthodontist and past President of the American Society of Orthodontists (a predecessor of the AAO) had the group issue the following statement in the leading journal of the time-Dental Cosmos:

“It has come to the attention of the American Society of Orthodontists that quite recently a Bill, designated as Assembly Bill 1214, has been introduced into the legislature of the State of California which provides for the creation of a new profession to be known as the profession of orthodontia. The Bill further provides that this profession shall be under the jurisdiction of the state board of medical examiners and subject to their examinations. Resolved, that the American Society of Orthodontists, in regular assembly, this 4th day of May 1927, does hereby record its unanimous and unqualified disapproval of such vicious and indefensible legislation, such legislation in the opinion of its members being detrimental to the best interests and welfare of the public at large.”

The Bill was defeated. Score: Ottelengui 1, Angle 0. The Edster was not to be defeated and he ordered his student Chuckie “the triangle” Tweed to take up the fight in the State of Arizona. A similar Bill was created and and once again defeated. Score: Ottelengui 2, Angle 0. There was never to be a round 3, Eddie died in 1930.

What can we learn from this brief digression? I’ll tell you.  Every time a pompous self-serving douche nozzle declares their membership in and their obedience to the orthodontic profession or their plasterbation over the importance of the American Board of Orthodontics, what they really are saying is “don’t give away any secrets or perform any act that might spoil the racket!” Well my dear ladies and gentlemen, these folks should stick to what they know best, the oldest profession.