By Danny Chan
OrthoED Institute is a Melbourne-based orthodontic training company that focuses on general practitioners seeking to carve a new career path in the lucrative teeth straightening market. Designed with GPs in mind, the Institute has been running a 9-module, 2-year Mini Master’s Program since its inception about two years ago.
“If you’re thinking of getting into orthodontics but do not wish to put your life on hold for three years, this program was designed for you,” Dr Geoffrey Hall rationalises, comparing his brainchild program to undertaking a full-time post-grad qualification at the University. Stretched over two years to accommodate lengthy case study review processes, the program effectively boils down to 21 days of full-day lectures in 2-day blocks.
Despite a less hectic schedule, Dr Hall says at the end of the orthodontic course, dentists are poised to deploy their newly minted skills on the vast majority of orthodontic cases.
Delivered by specialist orthodontists, including Dr Hall, and other specialist lecturers, the course incorporates a broad suite of lectures, online materials, case management mentoring support, as well as an optional in office immersion program. Guest lecturers comprise of relevant field experts, including oral surgeons, prosthodontists, practice managers, TMJ and sleep apnoea experts.
Filling the gap
Backed by 30 years and over 10,000 cases of orthodontic experience, Dr Geoffrey Hall is one of the leading orthodontic educators for general dentists in Australia. He is better known as developer of Smilefast, a digital indirect bonding system touted to achieve predictable treatment results in just 6-9 months. Smilefast is also the name of a short-term cosmetic orthodontic course that has trained over 700 dentists on the proprietary system since 2012.
“Without a shadow of doubt, the Smilefast training course is the best introductory course out there that allows general dentists to easily integrate into the field of orthodontics,” the Specialist Orthodontist asserts.
While the 2-day course purportedly gives general practitioners the ability to straighten teeth in 75% of adult orthodontic cases, the experienced clinician acknowledges a limitation of his highly condensed training session.
“Many of our Smilefast course attendees have gone on to provide orthodontic services in their practices, however there are those who lack the confidence to take on actual patients due to insufficient practical experience.”
This is precisely the training gap that the Mini Master’s was designed to fill. Three years in development, Dr Hall believes the Mini Master’s course would equip graduate GPs with the knowledge, skills and confidence to treat 95% of all orthodontic patients – without having to refer them to specialists.
Affording a clearer picture of his motivations as the program’s chief designer, Dr Hall identifies several hurdles that GPs regularly encounter in pursuing the practice of orthodontics:
As a practicing Specialist Orthodontist with decades of experience, he advocates the 80-20 rule for GPs: Treat 80 per cent of patients and refer 20 per cent of difficult cases. Making that distinction, he says, is “not as easy as it sounds” and requires in-depth risk analysis.
Citing examples of difficult cases such as “severe class 3 malocclusions that requires a lot of tooth movement”, Dr Hall reasons: “The beauty of being a GP is that you don’t have to treat everyone that walks through your door.”
One unique aspect of the course training is helping dentists make risk-based patient selection that considers such criteria as case difficulty, amount of chairside time and profitability.
“I hate it when I hear ‘profit’ being used as a dirty word”, he adds, “we’re all here to make a living and dentists are no different... there’s no reason to base your entire practice on difficult cases.”
Precise bracket positioning
Dentists often find it challenging to fit the braces in the correct position, which Dr Hall acknowledges takes a lot of experience to get right.
“To make (bracket positioning) easier for GPs without compromising accuracy, we’ve developed a digital workflow for indirect bonding that puts brackets on the model in the digital world. Similar to Invisalign’s digital set ups, our system is able to predict where teeth will move and digitally change the position of braces to precisely match the movement.”
Confirming the brand agnostic technology can be used with nearly any bracket system on the market, Dr Hall says that it will allow dentists to exercise more control over treatment outcomes while eradicating miscommunication between dentist and lab technicians.
Professional and Peer Support
Passionate about supporting the course graduates in practical ways, Dr Hall says the Institute provides a secure online portal for general case support as well as a digital computerised indirect bonding service. The portal also includes a peer group forum for course alumni to exchange ideas and help one another.
After they graduate, Dr Hall and his experienced staff team can even assist course graduates to set up their orthodontic service and provide onsite staff training.
“We have a suite of deliverables to optimise orthodontic workflow that can be adapted to most types of practice environment. At the moment we haven’t charged anyone for this service but that may change,” he advises.
GPs who wish to enrich their résumés – if only to put patients at ease – can further use the standalone Mini Master’s course as a springboard to a Postgraduate Diploma in Orthodontics from a UK accrediting body. The Diploma is available as an optional extra stream (with additional fees) to full course registrants. According to Dr Hall, almost everyone from the graduate class took up the option – the only dentist that didn’t was apprehensive about meeting the exam criteria.
Course participants or graduates can also look forward to a 3-day limited attendance in-office course, available on first-come-first-served basis for those who have completed or are doing their Mini Master’s. One highlight of this additional module is a full-day hands-on photography lesson conducted by world-class photography lecturer Dr Peter Sheridan.
Dentists can choose whether to attend individual modules or the entire Mini Master’s Program. The full program is priced at A$22,499 + GST or $A27499 + GST for the full program including the Postgraduate Diploma In Orthodontics. Australasian Dentist readers stand to enjoy a special offer if they call OrthoED at 1300 073 427 before registration closes on March 10th 2020.
OrthoED Institute’s Mini Master’s Program is currently open for 2020-2021 intake registration. The program’s Module 1 (Diagnosis, treatment planning, risk management and case presentation) commences from 19th March 2020. For more course details, visit https://orthoed.com.au