We found this Facebook ad from the AAO interesting and thought provoking but we have a few questions/comments.
- If we are reading this correctly, the AAO is saying it is not possible to get straight teeth without visits to an orthodontist’s office, but this is patently false. We can think of any number of scenarios that prove it so and believe even the AAO leadership can come up with more than one if they are honest about it. Remember that ONLY ONE exception to this AAO “rule” makes for false advertising.
- If it’s true that “It’s essential to regularly visit the orthodontist when teeth are being moved for proper care” then it is improper to visit a general dentist for care and improper for an orthodontist to do teledentistry in a state where they are licensed? Were laws passed and Dental Practice Acts changed across the country while we slept? If we missed this can someone at the AAO please bring us up to speed?
- Has the AAO ever heard of telemedicine? Do they realize there are studies showing telemedicine to be as effective as in person visits? Has the AAO conducted studies that contradict this? Does the AAO think that the non-invasive, elective, reversible process of moving teeth is too complicated for telehealth when real doctors do real medicine via telemedicine? A quick search of the peer-reviewed literature shows a robust amount of studies that confirm lower costs and better outcomes as a result of telemedicine and teledentistry.
- Based on this “truth” we take it that there is a universally agreed upon standard protocol for how often a patient must visit an orthodontist for “proper” care? We’d love to see this “standard of care” if the AAO would kindly provide it. Based on the fact that some orthodontists want to see aligner patients every couple weeks while other orthodontists give the entire box of clear aligners to their patients and tell them to “come back when they are done or call if they have a problem” (and that these orthodontists also inform their patients that they can use their smart phone to take a photo so the doctor can have a look if needed) we are shocked that the AAO would make such assertions. Perhaps the critical factor for “proper” care the AAO is referencing here is the need for a consumer to pay an orthodontist the full, traditional price for orthodontic treatment?
- What exactly is done at these regular office visits to an orthodontist when a patient is wearing aligners? Besides filing between the teeth and placing unaesthetic blobs of glue on them, the orthodontists generally just look at the consumer’s teeth and insure that the aligners are tracking – only using the naked eye for measurement. Is the AAO saying that this cannot be done remotely? Really? If that is the case then why is Dental Monitoring becoming so popular among orthodontists? Should the AAO not censure any business that provides tools for teledentistry if their assertions are correct?
- If teledentistry is so bad and unacceptable then why are so many orthodontists scrambling to sign up as providers for the companies who are hoping to deliver direct to consumer, doctor directed orthodontic treatment? If we shared the names of some of the orthodontists who are involved or trying desperately to become so, the AAO leadership and AAO Council on Communications members would need regular psychiatric office visits (or maybe some online sessions).
- Finally, help us get this straight… How can people with diabetes draw their own blood, evaluate their glucose level, diagnose their current condition, prescribe the appropriate treatment to the fraction of a cubic milliliter, administer the proper dose of insulin via a needle and syringe and do all this without a doctor or even a nurse present? Oh, and if they get it wrong, they could go into a coma or die! But these same people cannot be trusted to take photos of themselves, to put a play-dough like substance on their teeth or tell whether or not their removable aligners are fitting? Seriously?
Here are a few TRUTHS:
- Orthodontists in the US serve less than 3% (and much closer to 1%) of the population of the US annually.
- Our pricing is arbitrary, artificially high and we protect our guild ferociously.
- Telemedicine is proven and effective.
Rather than wasting everyone’s time with ludicrous ads claiming truth when they know it is not the case, the AAO should encourage their membership to offer enhanced access to care. No one is in better positon to deliver what people want at a price they can afford in a manner that is convenient to the 320 Million Americans than AAO members! But instead of doing so the AAO has chosen to focus on blocking access to care rather than enhancing it. There is truly the potential for a win-win if orthodontists would only consider what is possible instead of blindly following what we have always done. We’ve tried not to confuse you with the facts as we know that many of your minds are already made up, however think about the message that this type of advertising sends to the consumers you are actively seeking to capture.