by Christopher Piehler

According to the cover, you are holding in your hands the September 2006 issue of Orthodontic Products—but I like to think of it as the Hawaii Issue. You see, some lucky copies of this particular magazine will accompany me to the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists’ 2006 Annual Session, which takes place in Honolulu this year.

As much as I relish every opportunity to gnaw through the chain that shackles me to my desk and score some face time with my colleagues in the orthodontic industry, the fact that I will soon be seeing Waikiki for the first time adds an extra dose of excitement to this trip. In trade shows, as in real estate, the three most important things are location, location, and location.

The same thing can be said about orthodontic offices. I have, of course, heard this repeatedly from orthodontists who have built or bought new offices, and from the consultants who have helped them along the way. I only truly came to understand it, though, in the course of my own orthodontic treatment.

My orthodontist has offices in both downtown Los Angeles and in Beverly Hills. For my consultation, I went to the Beverly Hills office, which had the placid atmosphere of a hotel spa. As I waited to meet my orthodontist, I was one of two people quietly reading in the reception area. I had my consultation in a private room.

After I started treatment, I decided that the downtown office was closer to home, so I went there for my first several appointments. Same orthodontist. Same staff. Totally different experience. It started when I had to squeeze my car into a tightly packed parking lot and then get buzzed into a waiting room with bars on the window. I sat surrounded by fidgety kids and bored parents, all of us washed in the blue light and white noise of a huge television.

The final straw came at my most recent appointment, when I sat there for 45 minutes and was never called. Only when I noticed an assistant taking out the trash did I speak up and get hustled to a chair. Needless to say, I am going back to Beverly Hills for my next appointment.    

Enjoy the Hawaii Issue, which also marks the debut of Tech Spotlight, a special section in which orthodontic manufacturers take you inside the process of developing their newest products. I hope you find it informative, and I hope to see some of you in Honolulu. As we say in the islands, aloha.