Dentists Undertaking Orthodontic Treatment

The following article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the “NSW Dentist”, the magazine of the Australian Dental Association NSW Branch. Orthodontics was one section of the article.  The section reproduced below deals with general practitioner [GP] orthodontics; in other words dentists [as opposed to orthodontists] undertaking orthodontic treatment. The abbreviations used in the article refer to the following:

  • ASO – Australian Society of Orthodontists
  • MDSc – Masters of Dental Science
  • ADA – Australian Dental Association

The ICARUS Questions

To promise too much and overstep your competency can be paralleled with stories from Greek mythology writes Advisory Services Peer Advisor, Dr. Roger Dennett.

Greek mythology tells the tale of Icarus and his father Daedalus, who attempted to escape from a tower prison via wings made of feathers and wax. Icarus’ father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, lest the sea’s dampness clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly to close to the sun, and when the wax in his wings melted, he fell into the sea to his death.

The parallels in dentistry are strong – promise too much, overstep your competency, and your just as likely to tumble out of the sky as deliver on your promises. Practitioners mindful of this tale should consider the following questions when deciding on the patient’s treatment.

  • Can I Do it Well? [GP Orthodontics]

Advisory services has seen a lasting upsurge in the number of complaints involving general practitioner orthodontics. The ASO is on record as stating that the only way that GP dentists should be doing orthodontics is after completing the MDSc programme in orthodontics. Whilst this is not necessarily the view of the ADA NSW, practitioners need to remember the code of Conduct 7.2 which states:

“Development of knowledge, skills and professional behaviour must continue throughout a practitioner’s working life. Good practice involves keeping knowledge and skills up to date to ensure that practitioners continue to work within their competence and scope of practice.”

In situations involving GP orthodontics that have gone wrong, it usually comes to light that a proper and full clinical assessment of the patient’s orthodontic condition was not carried out and that the treatment plan was ill-advised and thus ineffective. Specialist retreatment usually occurs with invariably good results. This can be an expensive learning exercise for all concerned.

The NSW Dentist: The magazine of the Australian Dental Association NSW Branch March 2017

Advisory Services. Dr. Roger Dennett; The Icarus Questions, Page 14

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