by Christopher Piehler

Two of the most popular topics at the recent AAO Annual Session were miniscrews and lasers. The former were such a buzzword that I was reminded of the old Chinese restaurant joke where you open your fortune cookie and add “…in bed” to the message—except in this case, you took the name of any given Doctor’s Scientific Lecture and added “…with miniscrews” to the end. Another sign of miniscrews’ popularity is that they have attracted the attention of the Propriety Police, who are now calling them mini-anchors. As for diode lasers, it seemed to me that the buzz about incorporating them into orthodontics was created by one part desire to finish cases in a more aesthetic manner and one part childlike excitement to burn stuff with a laser, dude.

Whatever you call them and whyever you want them, both of these popular new products are reminders that orthodontists will always be both doctors and artisans. Sure, you now can use 3-D imaging to create a virtual patient that you can modify using a few clicks of a mouse (or, as I saw at one booth, a motion-sensitive glove). You can employ computer-designed, machine-made brackets or wires made of alloys that were originally designed for the carapaces of submarines or space shuttles. But, like miniscrews and lasers, these are merely high-tech tools. Nothing will ever substitute for the well-trained hand that places appliances made of metal and cement in exactly the right spot, or the trained eye that can see how much this or that tiny part needs to be adjusted to forge a smile that fits each patient.

Speaking of carefully calibrated adjustments, I am proud to introduce our new department, Clinical Pearls (page 10), which will showcase tidbits of knowledge gleaned from you, our readers. Clinical Pearls replaces Newsbites, because our news coverage has migrated to our Web site, where you can now find news updates every weekday.

With all that news and all those pearls to collect, I am hoping to engage as many orthodontists as possible in helping to make Orthodontic Products a true collaboration and a truly useful tool of your trade.

I look forward to hearing from you.