If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we can adapt and adopt technology to help offset the reduction in in-person purchasing opportunities, even the in-person AAO Annual Session. 

This column offers a close-up look at orthodontic product purchasing and how it is evolving. Orthodontic Products teamed up with Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS—who is not only the owner of his own private practice in Indiana, but also the founder and CEO of Orthodontic Details Marketplace, an online marketplace built for orthodontists’ purchasing needs—to get his unique insight into the orthodontist-supplier relationship and purchasing trends, and, more importantly, answer your questions. 

Two years ago, could you have imagined an AAO event being cancelled? I know I couldn’t have. And yet, for the second year in a row, one of the biggest weeks of product evaluation and networking in orthodontics has been thrown off.

While the team at the AAO have found ways to offer great programming, this is yet another example of our industry being forced to adopt technology and grow. It’s a wave that started long before COVID, but this past year, in particular, has forced us all to rethink the way we do things. 

Moments like these offer us the opportunity to step back and consider things we wouldn’t have considered before. While change can be disruptive and scary, it also presents us with opportunities that leave us better. 

As one example, in my practice we’ve adopted teledentistry components that we won’t stop using once the world fully returns to normal, and I’m sure you’ve done similar. But here’s the truth: If we weren’t forced to find new ways to interact with patients, we probably wouldn’t have been open to adopting teledentistry tools so quickly.

Something similar is happening in orthodontic sales in general. Imagine you’re a supplier and your sales force is now even more undesired in offices due to COVID protocols and precautions. Moreover, with the in-person AAO components cancelled, the ONE time where orthodontists actually come to you is no longer going to happen. They’re in a tough spot where openness to new ideas and innovation is crucial. 

But let’s be honest: Was physically walking from one booth to another in a crowded space really our idea of the best product evaluation and purchasing experience? While I love interacting with and learning from my peers at AAO events (and look forward to that coming back), I’ve always desired the ability to evaluate products all year long, in more efficient ways.

It was actually in the middle of an AAO conference that the concept for Orthodontic Details Marketplace was born. Looking out across an exhibit hall full of suppliers, orthodontists, staff, salespeople, etc, I thought “Is this really the only way to see what new products are out there?” It felt like it was time for our industry to adopt a technology-focused approach more quickly.

This led to the birth of Details Marketplace, where a practice can purchase from multiple suppliers at once. As well as an upcoming service called Details Concierge, which helps practices understand and optimize their purchasing better than ever before.

We’re seeing first-hand just how open to utilizing new technology practices are, and the direct impact that can result.

So while in-person components of the AAO being cancelled are disappointing, there is a silver lining: It has become more and more clear that our industry can adopt technology quickly, and we can modernize and find efficiencies as a result.

We’re curious how the change to the AAO conference this year will impact your purchasing plans. Were you planning on going before it was cancelled? Have you had to come up with new or interesting ways to get your hands-on or purchase products? Let us know! OP

Send us your thoughts and questions at [email protected] and we will answer them in a future column.

jeff biggs

Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS, is an ABO certified orthodontist with more than 20 years of experience. In addition to actively practicing in Indianapolis, Biggs is the CEO of Orthodontic Details Marketplace, and a sought-after advisor for other practices.