Helping dentists offer treatment options to improve smiles in a minimally invasive way.
Dr Anoop Maini is the President of the European Society of Aesthetic Orthodontics (ESAO). Here he explains the philosophy behind the organisation and the inspiration that sparked its foundation.
The market for general dentists offering orthodontics for cosmetic purposes has exploded in the last couple of years. The number of adult patients requesting treatment by GDPs of fixed and removable appliances to enhance the aesthetics and symmetry of their smiles has been rapidly increasing. Consequently this has been the cause of growing anxiety within the orthodontic community, with concern about the expansion of the market and the quality of the treatments being carried out, which on many occasions has been unfounded due to a lack of understanding about the nature of the treatment.
This apprehension has at times expressed itself in the form of controversial newspaper articles that appear to advise patients not to see general dentists for such procedures. Therefore now is the perfect time to try to support and represent GDPs offering this treatment, whilst simultaneously educating patients.
Comprehensive orthodontics will always be the gold standard of orthodontic care, but unfortunately a lot of adult patients seeking smile enhancement treatments turn down a comprehensive approach as an unrealistic option due to the length or complexity of treatment. The alternative options for such patients seem to be limited to either aggressive treatments that irreversibly damage the teeth with preparations for ceramic restorations, or to simply accept their smiles for what they are without undergoing any treatment at all.
Thankfully another alternative is available. By using orthodontic appliances over a shorter time frame, with specific focus on the symmetry and alignment of anterior teeth only, dentists can offer patients a much simpler, less drastic option. Such minimally invasive approaches to improving smiles are often far more acceptable to adult patients and should appeal to ethical dental professionals who would like to offer conservative aesthetic procedures.
The ESAO was therefore formed out of a necessity to support ethical general dentists who wish to provide aesthetically limited orthodontics to a good standard. Our philosophy is very much geared towards raising the standards of aesthetically limited orthodontic provision by general dentists by improving their core knowledge.
General dentists are well suited to offer this much simpler form of orthodontic treatment. They will already have a very strong overall concept of smile design, and orthodontic realignment compliments other areas of aesthetic dentistry that a GDP might already offer. We should make it clear that we are not trying to replace orthodontists; we are offering knowledge of a solution that utilises orthodontics to facilitate aesthetic smile design.
A lot of the education that is available at the moment tends to be derived from, and led by, companies which manufacture the orthodontic appliances, and who would therefore have an interest in promoting their own products. On the whole that training is reasonable for a mechanical understanding of those appliances, but what we are trying to do is make certain that the key aspects that need to be covered to satisfy medical-legal issues are not overlooked: things like treatment planning, assessments, consent etc.
Thus the ESAO aims to offer an unbiased perspective on orthodontics. To that end the board is represented by professionals within the industry, and there is no particular commercial agenda from any one specific company. There are dentists on the board from a range of different companies and specialisations across the dental profession to ensure this balanced representation.
The events and conferences provided by the ESAO include talks and practical hands-on sessions with experienced general dentists or specialist orthodontists. They are designed to provide all the experience necessary to deliver aesthetically focused orthodontics in a safe and ethical way, and are aimed at exploring the many ways in which GDPs and specialists can work together.
For more information on offering aesthetically focused orthodontic solutions and for details of upcoming ESAO events visit the website today.