by Christopher Piehler

When I had braces some time in the last millennium, my mouth was like a construction site: full of steel and concrete and seemingly never finished. When my nephew had braces last year at the age of 7, he sported tiny little brackets that seemed to move his teeth as quickly as those video games of his that I can’t quite keep up with.

My point is that orthodontics has changed radically, and is still changing. As we hear at every industry gathering (and often in the pages of this magazine), every aspect of the process, from imaging to bonding to practice management software, is evolving to make treatment faster, more comfortable, and more predictable.

Yet there are still orthodontists out there who turn their back on what they see as fancy new gadgets, convinced that what “works in their hands” will always work.

Upgrading hardware can be a monumental undertaking. You have to deal with the disruption of your office while new systems are being installed; then you and your staff will need training. Oh, and it can cost a huge chunk of change.

The most successful orthodontists, though, see past the hassles and cost, and focus on their patients. How can they be checked in faster? How can they have more fun while they’re waiting? How can they spend the least possible amount of time in the chair and still get treatment that leaves them smiling? In today’s marketplace, wireless computer networks, integrated practice management software, and 3-D imaging are not gadgets. They are the building blocks of an efficient practice, and informed patients and parents know to look for them when choosing an orthodontist.

And if you’re thinking it’s too late to change your technological ways, look at the subject of this month’s cover profile (page 14). When William Thomas, DDS, MS, PA, came out of a 1-year retirement, he upgraded to a paperless office—and increased his volume by 50%. Now that’s smart business.