In a new series of posts, I’m interviewing orthodontists around the UK and posing questions that patients may like to ask. To start, I’m delighted to introduce you to Dr Richard George who I first met at the British Orthodontic Conference in Brighton last year.
Please introduce yourself
I’m Richard George and I’ve been a specialist orthodontist for 17 years. I work in Kent and Sussex for an orthodontic practice group, Total Orthodontics, which I used to co-own. I’m also Director of External Relations at the British Orthodontic Society.
What most interests you about orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a fascinating blend of science and art. I suppose the scientific side is obvious – a core knowledge of cranio-facial development, biomechanics and the biology of tooth movement is essential – but an artistic flair is also required to create those perfect, harmonious smiles.
What did you learn about orthodontics from treating a family member or close friend?
Great question! Most adult patients seem to be genuinely fascinated with the simple fact that their teeth can be moved, something we see every day and probably take for granted. I’ve also learnt that the regular appointments are really important for every patient, so it’s essential to listen to any concerns, discuss progress, encourage and don’t rush the appointment.
What makes a great patient?
Orthodontic treatment can seem like a very slow and laborious process at times. A great patient is one who can remain enthusiastic about their treatment and focused on the end result.
If you were to undergo orthodontic treatment, what type of brace would you choose and why?
When it comes to treating adults I think it’s important to give plenty of choice. There are three main techniques available – fixed braces on the outer surfaces of the teeth (most adults choose tooth-coloured ceramic brackets), fixed braces on the inner surfaces of the teeth (called lingual braces) or removable, clear aligners. I chose clear aligners because I’m learning to play the saxophone and wanted something I could remove for practicing. But in many ways the choice of clinician is more important. I asked a specialist orthodontist colleague whom I could trust and, like myself, is experienced and confident in using that particular technique.
What one thing can patients do to better support their orthodontist?
Simple – maintain the highest standards of oral hygiene throughout treatment (and try not to miss too many appointments!)
Do practice staff make good patients?
Definitely! They’re usually very excited about their treatment because they’ve seen so many people benefit from orthodontics and are always passionate advocates of our work.
What do you think the next big advance in orthodontics will be?
Digital technology has revolutionised orthodontics over the past few years but I suspect there are even more digital advances just around the corner that will improve the delivery of orthodontic care even further. In the more distant future, I predict that we will have an even better understanding of the biology of tooth movement and that this can be utilised to gain genuine improvements in treatment time and post-treatment stability.
Have you ever had braces and if so, has the experience influenced the way you provide orthodontics to your patients?
Yes – wearing retainers is much more onerous that I’d imagined!
What do patients most enjoy about visiting your practice?
I’m sure it’s the friendliness and caring nature of my staff.
If you weren’t an orthodontist, what would you be?
Probably an architect.
What would be your recommended first meal for patients who have just had their braces fitted?
Something soft and comforting. You can’t go wrong with a shepherd’s pie or a vegetable lasagne.
Broken wires or detached brackets are most often caused by..?
Pen-chewing or eating Maoams!
And finally, what advice would you give someone thinking about getting braces?
Go for it! I can honestly say that I have never treated an adult who’s regretted having orthodontic treatment.
If you are an orthodontist or work in orthodontics and would like to feature on my blog, please contact me.