What a Year it's Been

I just turned 50, which means that I’m literally a half a century old. Aside from things like AARP, colonoscopies and a realization that you are older than the majority of the population, being halfway to 100 is a sobering thought. I find myself in quiet contemplation of the world around me more often than, say, 20 years ago.
I can remember back to my dad’s dental practice when I was 5 years old. I just seemed like a simpler time (I was 5, after all). He had a tiny 500 square foot practice with two ops, one assistant and my grandmother was his front desk. I can remember the excitement when dad switched from the big old rubber band driven handpieces to a modern high speed.  Simpler times, right?
While I sit here thing about the year that was, it’s mind boggling how quickly things are changing. Just think of the landscape of our professional world compared to this time last year. Just think…
2017 started with the majority of Orthodontists not owning a scanner and ended with the “Great Scanner War” when Align announced they would stop accepting Trios scans in January. Orthodontists and orthodontic companies are scrambling to figure out how to best respond and it’s clear that the future of clinical practice is going to be exciting. Not since the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forced professional wresting to abandon their acronym and change to the “WWE” have things been this exciting.
When I came into ortho, I remember everyone telling me how GPs doing ortho was the biggest threat to specialty practice.”Do it at home aligners” was a pretty much non-existent concept. If I told you that people would actually pay money to take their own impressions, submit them to a company that would never have done an exam on them and then basically do their own orthodontics, you would have laughed me out of the room. Now, their goal of being a billon dollar a year company isn’t as crazy as it first sounded. The market for “DIY” has exploded.
My prediction: Do it at home circumcision kits available on Amazon. Oh, sorry, that already exists… https://nypost.com/2017/12/20/amazon-realizes-diy-circumcision-kit-might-be-a-bad-idea/
Clear aligner therapy (CAT) has grown in popularity because of the hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into the do it home aligner marketing. Everyone now thinks that they can straighten their teeth with aligners in no time at all, understanding nothing about the technology. Patients show up to orthodontic offices excited to learn more about those exciting “Invisalign Braces” having zero idea of what they are even asking for. All they know is that those “clear Invisalign things” can straighten teeth “in like a month” for next to nothing and they know this for sure because their friend’s cousin’s former sister in law did them from her dentist for like $1100…and her teeth turned out OK. After all, she showed them on her Instagram page:
Speaking of which, did you ever imagine you’d see “teeth selfies” on social media before this year?!?!
Social media has taken over as a huge way to grow our orthodontic practices. Sure, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have always been fun ways to document our practices, but 2017 became the year of the Influencer. Who knew that finding the right online ambassador for your practice could be so big for your bottom line. Companies figured this out and now are flocking to the biggest names for online social media sales campaigns. Never thought that a 23 year old millennial with 50,000 Instagram followers could help you grow your practice so quickly, did ya? Snapchat ain’t just for tweens….
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If I asked you in January of 2017 to define what “blockchain” technology meant, you would have looked at me cross-eyed. Now, while most orthodontists still don’t understand how that technology works, many are trying to figure out how many bitcoins to charge for comprehensive treatment.  Where blockchain technology will enter the ortho world, nobody knows for sure. But the cryptocurrency craze has certainly been fun to watch.  Just consider the words of the pundits from Coinbase when Bitcoin passed $1000 on 1/1/17: “As asserted by analysts, 2017 is expected to be a banner year, one that could finally lead the price to pass its all-time high of $1,216.7 set in 2013.”
As of the writing of this post, it sits at $13,423.
In 2016, the idea of scanning instead of PVS impressions was the coolest thing I could think of. Gone were the days of having to hold my breath while my scanner took a picture of a tooth. I was really proud when I could scan a patient in less than 8 minutes. Fast forward to the 60 second scan. {yawn}. Now, it’s all about printing technology. A year ago I would never have thought that a 3D printer would be indispensable to my practice, but alas, it’s just a matter of time until I have a robot running all of my printing technology. Good bye plaster and alginate.
But seriously, what’s the coolest thing one could print….a tooth, aligners, an artificial body part? Nah!
2017 has definitely seen some remarkable changes for our industry and anyone who thinks they know for sure where we’re headed in 2018 is just plain guessing. I have no idea where we’re headed, but one thing is for sure: As long as we stay together as a profession, do good for our fellow man and never misunderstand technology for knowledge, it should be a fun ride.
Wishing each and every one of you an amazing 2018!!!
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If you want to come to learn more about an amazing business meeting for orthodontists, simply visit OP2018.com . We’ve got a world-class lineup of speakers, amazing food and an ambiance that will make you want to come back year after year. You can always email me at Glenn@OrthopreneursRD.com or message me on Facebook. I’m here to help.
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