As the former President of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), I have had the unique opportunity to view the profession of orthodontics from a very broad perspective. I have traveled around the U.S. and to many foreign countries. In those travels, I have talked to many orthodontists, industry partners, educators, and patients. The message is clear: the orthodontic environment is changing rapidly. It is being disrupted by technology, social media and society’s wish to have everything faster and more convenient.
The AAO has taken a very active role to deal with this change by creating a new strategy map that clearly states our mission and vision as well as describing clear goals and objectives. This strategy was created with input from virtually every stakeholder group in the orthodontic industry today. The one-page summary map is available on the AAO website but below are 3 important goals:
Many people have asked me what my vision was for my year as AAO President. My response is that it can’t be my vision; it must be OUR vision. I strongly believe that by working together towards these common goals, orthodontists can take advantage of this changing environment as an opportunity to engage patients in new ways, to leverage the technology available to us, and to ultimately provide even better and more accessible care to our patients in the future.
Orthodontists are defined by their educational qualifications. This means that for our profession to remain strong we need strong educational programs. As an educator myself, I know we need training programs that prepare new orthodontists to thrive in this changing world by providing them experience in computer-assisted treatment techniques including aligners, making them comfortable with 3D imaging and intraoral scanning, and providing the robust foundational knowledge that enables them to adapt to future change. This type of training will not be supported by universities alone; they need all of us to provide clinical teaching expertise and to be generous in giving to the programs that mean most to us.
Remember, times of great change are also times of great opportunity! The orthodontic profession has a great opportunity to work together towards common goals to ensure that orthodontics tomorrow is even better than today! I’m pleased that current AAO President Dr. Gary Inman plans to continue leading this vision. Get involved, stay involved.
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