Christopher Piehler

It’s not often that one product transforms the way people do their jobs. The most recent example in the general population is the smartphone. By fitting a phone, a camera, an ecosystem of apps, and the connective power of the Internet into a package small enough to slip into your pocket, smartphones (and their oversized siblings, tablet computers), have broken the shackles that once bound 9-to-5ers to their desks.

These days, being “out of the office” is no longer a euphemism for “not working.” If you are awake, you are at work. Some may consider this an unwanted intrusion into their personal time, but to me, mobile connectivity provides a liberating new array of choices of how to accomplish the tasks we do for a living.

In the orthodontic world, the same thing could be said for the TAD. This single, tiny product has given orthodontists a whole new world of treatment options, a number of which our writers examine in this issue. In addition to clinical articles about using TADs on pages 30 and 91, this issue features our first-ever Focus on TADs, a chart comparing TAD systems from 11 different companies. You can see it for yourself on page 96.

I remember vividly the first time I saw a TAD in action. It was at the 2004 AAO Annual Session. The Orthodontic Products booth was across the aisle from the booth of a Korean company, which was showing a 30-second video close-up of an orthodontist’s hand placing a miniscrew. I watched that video dozens of times, and my main memory is that there was a lot of blood. My gut reaction was, “Ew! Why would you want to drive a screw into somebody’s gums?”

Since then, of course, I have come to understand the wide utility of the TADs as a source of anchorage. These tiny workhorses allow orthodontists to move teeth in ways that used to be impossible. And—crucially, from a patient’s perspective—they can do it without resorting to the dreaded headgear.

It’s not quite true that TADs are the smartphones of orthodontics, but they do offer the same advantages: mobility, flexibility, and choice.

Christopher Piehler