The ‘uberization of orthodontics’ – or how low can you go?

From Volume 43, Issue 7, September 2016 | Pages 606-607


Martin Kelleher


Specialist in Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics, Consultant in Restorative Dentistry, King's College Dental Hospital

Articles by Martin Kelleher

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The race to the bottom for the quickest, allegedly ‘great’ or bargain deal in orthodontics has reached a place that few would have thought possible even five years ago. The gradual ‘uberization’ of dentistry in general, but of orthodontics in particular, has produced a raft of new and largely unproven claims for treatments, which are promoted with gushing enthusiasm and superficial short-term evidence of their supposed long-term benefits for patients.

The thrust of the promotional ballyhoo, which appears on various websites, or in trade-sponsored dental comics, usually involves some pretty case report pictures as part of quietly advertorial articles that sometimes seem to have been written by someone with strong commercial interests. A convenient amnesia can allow such possible conflicts to remain undeclared, but the fanciful claims, which are not usually supported by worthwhile long-term independent scientific studies, seem to be targeted not only at interested and enthusiastic dentists, but also increasingly aimed directly at consumers potentially interested in some change in their dental appearance. These alleged panaceas for suboptimal smiles sometimes seem to encourage dentists to eschew the tedious detailed assessment of patients prior to offering them treatment and some appear to question, if not actually dismiss, other peer reviewed, accredited specialist orthodontic training and techniques. It is an inconvenient truth that, even with prolonged orthodontic training and education, and even with the tooth movements being done with care and skill in carefully selected cases, some relapse and/or resorption and/or gingival recession are commoner longer-term complications of elective orthodontics than some would care to admit.

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