Question from a Reader


Question from a Reader


I had a fantastic FB messenger conversation the other day. Inspired, intelligent questions make for the best insight so I thought I would share, with Haidee’s permission. Enjoy!

Haidee Henderson Cline: Ben, I saw you wrote for SmileDirectClub. Matt reviews cases for them and, despite my being open to industry innovation, I find this service in particular is doing harm. They are going with “the customer is always right” allowing them to request and dictate treatment. Their form has a checkbox for “do you want IPR”. Of course no one wants it! 
I really love reading all of your work, but I sometimes wonder if you are of the mindset that the Ortho specialty has lost its value? I am not being combative, I’m genuinely curious if that is your leaning now?
He what do you think about botched work that orthos frequently fix? At least that is Matt’s experience. I feel like the Ortho is becoming like Botox in nail salons. You can get it done, and it might work, but you might also get a jacked up eyebrow. Hope you are well. Nice to meet you and your family in Vail.

Ben: Well, I dropped my specialty license and am a general dentist in Arkansas so I think I’m being very consistent in my position. SDC patients do not overlap with traditional Ortho patients. We know this because zero type c cases end up at an Ortho office. I am pushing SDC to say, “if you can afford an orthodontist then go see one”. SDC is for people who cannot get any care otherwise and better is better. I’m a hard core access to care guy. I’m very consistent on this point. Orthodontists are not willing to do what it takes to educate the public about what we do as a group or individually. Therefore we are doomed as a specialty. I’m just an early adopter of the coming reality. Read The Innovator’s Dilemma and you’ll understand SDC. Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate the interaction and love when people question what I’m doing and why.

Haidee Henderson Cline: I’ve read it! My background is business strategy helps me see what’s coming, or at least what I think is coming. I tell Matt to watch out about Invisalign. With SDC doing what they are doing, and branching out to brick and mortar, if they start infringing on Invisalign, align tech will go the same route. Nothing to stop them. That is one big reason our strategy for our Ortho practice is kids…the market that probably won’t be fragmented to the other services. Unless of course GDs convincingly and successfully start doing Ortho. Oh wait….

Ben: I’m betting align and SDC will be on the same team before its all over with.

Haidee Henderson Cline: And if they can sign up virtual clinchecks they won’t need practices for distribution. You’ll be able to get aligners at a kiosk in the mall or maybe even your hair salon!

Ben: I’ve been saying that for years.

Haidee Henderson Cline: I keep saying that unless botched work becomes common place, nothing will change. And if botched work doesn’t become commonplace, then what’s the problem?

Ben: We are chickens

Haidee Henderson Cline: Thanks for the link. But are u suggesting or predicting that GDs can quickly get the training necessary to treat kids and adults who need advanced work?

Ben: I’m suggesting that if plastic surgeons didn’t do a good job of educating people about why they should see a plastic surgeon that PCPs would be doing cosmetic surgery

Haidee Henderson Cline: Last question…genuine curiosity…you went to Ortho residency for how many years? 2 or 3? Was it full time? Do you believe the knowledge and expertise you gained there could be gained through CE? Or do you believe the 2-3 years of training aren’t necessary for quality Ortho treatment? I got an MBA and went full time for 2 years. If someone asked me if I thought it was worthwhile I would say yes, but apparently an Executive MBA done on weekends for a year accomplish the same goal. However, I wasn’t learning to move teeth inside a jawbone. My specialty can be learned in weekends. Can quality Ortho?

Ben: I went for three years and started a ton of cases – more than anyone who graduated in the years before or after that I know of – and finished a bunch of those plus took on every transfer case I could get my hands on. Still didn’t know crap coming out of school. Learned how to practice from Dwight Damon, David Sarver, Terry Dischinger and doing. I don’t think CE would be easy but you probably could. I know you could work for a busy orthodontist for a year or two and be better than someone out of residency.