Kutztown orthodontist Dr. Bryon Viechnicki was one of 75 in the country to discuss the future of orthodontics and the problems the dental industry faces.
The 75 orthodontists from around the country were selected by the Board of Trustees of the American Association of Orthodontists to attend a young orthodontist conference, “Young Leaders in Orthodontics: Shaping a Vision for the Profession” conference, held Feb. 7 at Palm Desert, Calif. Much of the conversation was about patient education and better training programs for orthodontists and dentists.
“They wanted a younger group of people that could help them grasp problems that newer orthodontists are facing,” Dr. Viechnicki said.
One of the main problems that the board presented to the conference was educating the public on the difference between a generalist and a specialist. A generalist is typically seen as the average dentist while a specialist is an orthodontist who deals specifically with an overbite. The problem that the board faces is that marketing companies are targeting the generalists with one to two day courses and they will certify them with a certificate that says they can be considered a specialist.
“To become a dentist you go through four years of a bachelor’s program and then four more years of dentistry school,” Dr. Viechnicki said.
After that dentists can open up their own practice or continue training in a specialty field but they have to get the training on their own. With the one day certificate courses that marketing companies are offering dentists to use their products, there can be confusion among the patients between generalists and specialists.
To become certified as a specialist dentists must go through another two to three years of training and which includes completing a residency in that specialty.
“The problem is that there are approximately 10,000 orthodontists in the country and there are 130,000 dentists in the country and the marketing and product companies are trying to attract the larger audience,” Dr. Viechnicki said.
The ultimate decision was to send out nation-wide surveys to see if the public knows the difference between a generalist and a specialist. Despite the confusion, Dr. Viechnicki believes that the dentists are not being deceptive and that punishment is not something that the board is going to consider.
“The plan is to educate the public so that they are not misinformed,” Dr. Viechnicki said.
The requirements to apply for the conference was that practitioners needed to be have been practicing for 10 years or less. They also needed to submit an essay and the board of the Association of American Orthodontists decided who could help them with the discussion.
Dr. Viechnicki is an orthodontist and a professor of orthodontics at Temple University. He has written two text book chapters and seven peer-reviewed articles. He and his father, Dr. Joseph Viechnicki, have two orthodontic offices: Viechnicki Orthodontics
at 122 E. Broad St., Bethlehem, and at Ten Herring Alley, Kutztown. Dr. Joseph Viechnicki has had an office in Kuztown for 31 years and his son joined him in the practice in 2011.