by Christopher Piehler

Christopher Piehler

In his poem, “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruellest month.” With the American economy in its current lurching decline, it seems to me that these days, each month is crueller than the previous one. Autumn’s bank failures were followed swiftly by winter’s layoffs, and as investors wince and cringe through a month that is less cruel than the rest of the calendar only by virtue of being shorter, foreclosure signs are blooming everywhere like daffodils in springtime.

As I write this, the Congress and the president are wrangling over the size and content of the economic stimulus bill, which will no doubt be too expensive for some and too late for others. In the face of such massive upheavals in the American economy, the most pressing question on my mind is, “What can we, as individuals with useful and marketable skills, do to secure our financial futures?”

And I am not trying to be glib when I say that we can each do what we do—by which I mean that now is the time to get back to basics, to focus on what business gurus might call our “core competencies.”

For orthodontists, obviously, the core competency is moving teeth into a functional and aesthetic final occlusion. And according to a recent poll on our Web site, orthodontists are focused on their mission. Despite the harrowing economic atmosphere, the practitioners we heard from are not laying off members of their staff or working shorter hours. Instead, they are cutting expenses and marketing more aggressively. My impression is that, like many American businesses, orthodontists are still making money, but they are having to work harder to earn each dollar than they did in the past.

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The same is true for us here at Orthodontic Products, where getting back to basics means delivering practical information that you can read today and use tomorrow. To do this as effectively as we can, we have added new print and online features, such as our product charts and our podcast series. The containers may be different, but the purpose is the same: helping you focus on giving your patients—and yourself—something to smile about.

Christopher Piehler