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LONDON, UK: Seeking to promote patient safety in dentistry, the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has recently announced that it has joined a Europe-wide consensus on the remote treatment of malocclusion. The consensus involves 31 professional dental and orthodontic societies, associations and institutions in 25 countries endorsing a joint declaration by the European Federation of Orthodontic Specialists Associations (EFOSA) regarding the remote treatment of malocclusion, which they regard as unacceptable and potentially hazardous.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry, which includes self-executed procedures such as fillings and tooth whitening, extraction and straightening, gained increasing popularity during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This is because people became more aware of their teeth during close-up video conferencing and access to dentistry was severely restricted. Despite its popularity, remote orthodontic treatment has caused great concern over patient safety and has shifted the focus from a patient-centred approach to dentistry, which emphasises the crucial role of dental providers within the clinical setting to ensure the highest standards of care.
According to the BOS press release, increasingly more companies are promoting and selling orthodontic treatment, including aligners, by post without initial diagnosis or regular clinical monitoring. They attract clients by asserting that the treatment is affordable, fast and safe. However, patients are often not warned that at-home orthodontic treatments could cause a severe risk to their health.
DIY orthodontics does not meet the basic requirements set down by the EFOSA and therefore cannot be justified, according to the BOS.
“The unanimity shown by European orthodontists on this subject makes it clear that orthodontics is more than just aligning the front teeth. It is about a holistic approach to care where the patient’s best interests are at the heart of our treatments,” project coordinator Prof. Christian Scherer said in a press release. He added that patients should make sure that the treatment that they are undergoing is being conducted according to the basic requirements formulated in the joint declaration.
Commenting on the subject, Dr Anjli Patel, director of external relations of the BOS, said: “Orthodontic treatment without thorough clinical face-to-face examination of the patient, X-ray imaging and regular clinical monitoring, is potentially hazardous to the patient’s health. Any self-administered and remote treatment cannot be justified from a professional medical perspective and thus represents a serious violation of ethical, medical and dental standards.”
Editorial note: The joint declaration on the remote treatment of malocclusion is available in 12 languages and can be viewed here.