John Bennett, FDS, RCS, the B in the MBT orthodontic system, on the surprising success of online programs for teaching orthodontic treatment mechanics, including the MB 5.0 philosophy.

Prior to March 2020, in-person seminars and conferences were the go-to format for continuing education. Over the last year, however, virtual educational opportunities have proven their effectiveness and efficiency at teaching orthodontic treatment mechanics. Many providers have proven their skill in offering high-quality content to keep orthodontists up to date on the latest advances. And what’s more, the shift to an online format has given a greater number of orthodontists and students access to programs they otherwise would have found difficult to attend.  

John Bennett and Richard McLaughlin
The M and B in the MBT Philosophy: McLaughlin   (left) and Bennett (right).

One team that has made the switch is the duo of John Bennett, FDS, RCS, and Richard McLaughlin, DDS, well-known as the M and B in the MBT orthodontic system. The two have spent years running courses and lecturing to the orthodontic community at large meetings around the world. In the last year, however, they made a huge shift and took their knowledge online. Orthodontic Products spoke to Bennett about the switch and the content he and McLaughlin have created around their MB 5.0 philosophy. Bennett explains how the content is perfect for both universities teaching the next generation of orthodontists and practicing orthodontists and their teams as it offers a close-up view of the pair’s treatment mechanics and allows viewers to go at their own pace to really soak up the information.  

Orthodontic Products: Why do you think the big orthodontic meetings have enjoyed success for so many years? 

John Bennett, FDS, RCS: They offer orthodontists a chance to get out of the office, to travel, and to take a break from day-to-day orthodontic practice, meeting up with friends and colleagues. New concepts can be studied at the big meetings, knowledge can be passed on, and the company booths can be checked out for the latest in innovative products.

OP: So what’s different now?

Bennett: As we know, all that changed in March 2020, and for more than a year we have seen cancellations or postponements of meetings while mankind learns to deal with the virus. Everything is slowly getting back to normal, but attendance is elective. Vaccination programs are underway, but orthodontists are hesitant to sign up to meetings, and many of the companies are reluctant to ask employees to man the booths. Most recently, we saw the 2021 Boston AAO meeting cancelled, despite big efforts to make it happen.

Dr John Bennett teaching in Moscow
Bennett teaching in Moscow in December 2018.

OP: How has knowledge of your treatment method been passed on over the years?

Bennett: In my early days as an orthodontist I was advised by Dr Marty Stein, “If you want to be famous, publish.” And that’s what Rick McLaughlin and I have done. We announced the mechanics in our series of JCO papers, starting in 1989, and there have been four textbooks in multiple languages, the latest being Fundamentals of Orthodontic Treatment Mechanics. We have backed up publishing with courses and lectures at the big meetings, ever since our first courses in London and Munich in 1982.

OP: How have you managed the situation since March 2020?

Bennett: With the arrival of Covid-19, Rick McLaughlin and I changed our approach. We accepted that courses and meetings were no longer options due to the virus, and (more importantly) the younger generation prefer to learn from a tablet or an iPad. With this in mind, we set up the all-new McLaughlin-Bennett website and loaded it with 18 high quality videos, showcasing the MB 5.0 treatment philosophy. It is a great way to pass on knowledge, and we are planning to release a second group of videos in late 2021.

OP: Tell us about your experience as you switched into video mode.

Bennett: It was a challenging project because we only wanted the very best quality of teaching material. Each of the 18 videos required 2 to 3 weeks of preparation, so we set up a studio for filming and started working with a professional videographer. They run for 35 to 45 minutes, and the available teaching material (720 minutes) is the equivalent of about six or seven Hollywood movies, with more on the way. 

OP: What are the benefits of video teaching for the universities?

Bennett: Video teaching is seen more and more in other areas of education. As we introduce it to orthodontics, we find it helps the teachers in two areas: (1) less time is needed to prepare lecture material and (2) the videos ensure accurate and consistent teaching of our treatment method. For example, with the case studies lecturers find it helpful to show the start records and then pause the video to discuss treatment possibilities, before going on to review the treatment provided. This provides high quality orthodontic education for 60 to 75 minutes. By the way, we recently added a free taster case report to the website to allow educators to evaluate the caliber of the teaching.

OP: And the benefits for orthodontists?

Bennett: The big advantage for orthodontists and their staff is that they can view the videos at a time convenient to them, for example during a once-a-week lunchtime or end-of-the-day training session. The videos give a close-up of our mechanics and shine a light into the corners of every treated case, explaining exactly what was done to achieve the result, and this is helpful to serious minded orthodontists who want to refresh their knowledge and provide on-going training for their staff. This can be linked to a higher level of care for their patients.

OP: Can you explain how the videos are used to cover particular topics?

Bennett: Well, let’s look at “Overbite Control” in the Systemized series. It shows how correction should be possible in every case if five key principles are followed and emphasizes the advantages of the larger .0227 slot with high performance wires, so that reverse curves are seldom needed. It recommends allowing time for the mechanics to work.

The “Levelling and Aligning” video is popular because it describes the mechanics during the important opening stages, which all cases need to go through. It shows how to get to the working .019/.025 wires while preventing key features of the malocclusion becoming worse.

OP: Who are the main users of the Systemized series and the San Diego series?

Bennett: The Systemized videos are popular at all levels. As mentioned above, they reduce the workload of university teachers and encourage a consistent treatment approach in orthodontic education, and we have had good feedback from professors, with comments like “The postgraduate students and I found them very well-presented and informative.”

The San Diego series is mainly of interest to orthodontists who use our treatment method and to senior residents in the university programs, because they show stage-by-stage treatment of tough cases, some of them severe.

OP: How do you see the impact of teaching videos in the future? 

Bennett: We believe they are the way forward in orthodontic education. As I mentioned earlier, we have a second series due for release in late 2021 and we plan to make incremental changes going forward, so this eventually becomes an inclusive program for learning orthodontic treatment mechanics.

OP: Any final thoughts?

Bennett: We see the new website as a platform for our legacy. It is our gift to the idealists coming through in the next generation of orthodontists—those young orthodontists who share our values, who want to carry the specialty forward in a good direction, and who want to go out and provide the best possible care for their patients. Orthodontic knowledge which is not passed down is knowledge which is lost. OP