The fully functioning orthodontic team

teamworkEleanor Maynard explains how to be stronger and more efficient in the delivery of orthodontic care.

In a changing world of orthodontic treatment delivery, the team approach to patient care is having more and more of a positive impact on everyone involved; from specialist orthodontists, management, administration and clinical team members to patients’ alike.

Effective teamwork is only achievable if the entire team has the same desired goal. This goal must become part of the practice ethos.

Thus, encouraging the entire team to strive to achieve the same outcomes and to want to continually improve and develop.

The ethos should become ingrained within each individual.

For a team to develop their efficiency and skills they must have opportunity. From opportunity comes empowerment, drive, determination, passion and education.

But how can you channel individual passion to fit within a team framework? Why invest in broadening the teams’ skillset?

Passionate and educated team

A well-educated, trained and competent administrative and clinical orthodontic team can provide much of the patient’s care, whilst being overseen by a prescribing orthodontic specialist and leadership team.

Delivery of care; right from the gathering and management of patient data, to taking orthodontic records, providing appliance and oral health care advice, to carrying out routine orthodontic procedures – effectively demonstrated by a passionate and educated team of orthodontic administrators, orthodontic nurses and orthodontic therapists.

Once patients become used to this way of working they love it too!

Patient feedback in practices where teams are well educated and competent at delivery of care often reflects a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly team.

Thus, creating a relaxed atmosphere for a patient to return to time and time again and refer their friends and family.

Recognising potential

Recognising potential is a key skill of any leader.

Routine appraisals should take advantage of an opportunity to establish an individuals’ drive and determination to develop.

A passionate team member will make a success of a learning opportunity. This in turn will follow into their patient care and ability to work well within the orthodontic team.

Empowerment is where an individual is given the opportunity to become stronger and more confident to reach a personal goal or target, which in turn promotes passion for continuing to want to gain further new knowledge.

In the orthodontic team, individuals may wish to learn different skills. For example: in oral health education, dental administration, clinical photography, laboratory techniques or even within orthodontic education in teaching and mentoring.

You can utilise a well-rounded team with many skills in improving quality of treatment and patient care.

This is at the core of all orthodontic treatment delivery. For successful empowerment, you must offer opportunity and support. From empowerment often comes loyalty and a solid team who know how to work together well.

Effects of a fully functioning orthodontic team are now experienced much more widely across the orthodontic profession. Especially in the current climate of NHS uncertainty and the need to continually offer more for less.

This is encouraging the increase of fully functioning teams, which will continue to evolve as roles change in the future.

Management skills

As more new members of the orthodontic team become educated and skilled in their role, longer-standing qualified DCPs who have been practising as orthodontic therapists and orthodontic nurses for some time are able to develop their leadership and management skills.

Increasingly, orthodontic therapists are evolving into managerial positions. They are becoming trustworthy clinical leads under their prescribing orthodontist that they have worked closely with for some time.

Some DCPs have a passion for sharing their knowledge, skills and experience. They are able to develop their training and teaching skills to mentor and educate.

What’s next?

DCPs for DCPs established new networking groups within the orthodontic profession for specific roles.

For example; the ‘Orthodontic Therapists Society’ (OTS) was founded in 2019 and smaller newly-formed social media pages such as ‘Orthodontic nurses UK’ are being utilised to communicate with colleagues and share information, helping to drive, support and influence individual’s to continue to progress in their role.

The enforcement of enhanced CPD that came into force in 2018 focuses on quality of training as opposed to quantity.

ECPD should directly link to the area of practice to ensure its relevance to enhancing and refreshing knowledge appropriately.

The service offers tailor-made packages within orthodontic education. This provides a fully functioning orthodontic team with their bespoke training requirements if they so wish. Or smaller more specific qualification courses are available for individual roles. These cater for the needs of the entire orthodontic team.

So, what are you waiting for? Empower or feel empowered, provide opportunities or take opportunities and develop as a team together. Be a part of a fully functioning orthodontic team that delivers the best service and orthodontic care possible.


This article first appeared in Orthodontic Practice magazine. You can read the latest issue here. 

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