The annual American Association of Orthodontists’s Session

The annual American Association of Orthodontists’s Session

It’s an annual event, the American Association of Orthodontists’s session when anywhere from 10-20,000 Orthodontists, their staff and the companies that support the profession meet for 4-5 days of lectures, workshops and browsing of the enormous trade hall exhibits. It’s my annual mission to make sure I’m current, that our treatments are appropriate, that we are using the latest technology and to catch up with colleagues from round the world. The colleague chat may be the most valuable, experienced orthodontists are quick to cut through the marketing hype and and finding out what works well, the problems and the ‘don’t go there’ for some of the new trends is  incredibly helpful!

The annual session changes cities each year, this year Los Angeles which is close (for us) though surprisingly only saw 2 other kiwi orthos. Always difficult and fraught to decide which of the simultaneous 5 streams of lectures to go to. Highlights included Chris Chang from Taiwan (who I had arranged to give a day seminar in Auckland a couple of years back) He’s now a rockstar on the orthodontic circuit and gave a breathtaking lecture about using temporary anchors to move whole dental arches back. Helped by his amazing graphics and visuals (he owns a few Apple stores and has an IT in house team which helps), though may need to put on some brave pants to try some of his corrections!

Other lecturers including Benedict Wilmes (who we hope to get to NZ next year) showed how we may soon be able to use temporary anchors digitally with the templates and structures manufactured off a digital scan before placement (I’m looking forward to that as currently not that easy to get the necessary high level of lab support for complicated structures)

Some lectures were tributes to the greats of our profession who passed away this year, including Professor William Profitt, from North Carolina who had written a text book (think we all owned a copy) and published hundred of scientific articles from his research. The moving lecture given by Prof Kevin O’Brien, a wry Brit (who publishes the most read blog for orthodontists, deciphering the evidence -or lack of -for treatments and equipment etc) showed what an incredible mentor and academic we had lost.

The trade hall is huge and you get the feel from the exhibitors the direction our profession is heading…all digital! Lots of new clear aligner companies, all expanding as the invisalign patents fall away!, digital braces set ups, robots to bend wires and lots of 3D printers, with software to design your own aligner systems (if hours on computers are your thing) Even robots to welcome patients in reception (didn’t order one, sorry!)

Then theres the social side as well, a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues from around the world. Always an alumni night, meeting orthodontists who also studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and chatted with the current students who now expect to graduate, after undergrad, dental school then graduate orthodontic program with at least $750,000 of debt. Very grateful to have had the incredible opportunity to study there at a time when fees more manageable.

A couple of great downtown LA restaurants (luckily others had done the homework and bookings), and fun nights with friends from all over I only get to see once a year!

Heading back with some new ideas but more than that, reassured that we are keeping up with all that’s new and good!