Ten minutes with orthodontist Aisling Byrne

orthodontists aisling byrneFamily oriented Aisling Byrne shares all, including her biggest influences, adapting to COVID-19, the advice she would give to new orthodontists, what brings her joy and more.

What brings you the most joy?

Spending time with my family. Being Irish, I come from a very close-knit family. It has been difficult seeing so little of them over the past 15 months.

Since the lifting of the third lockdown, I am trying to catch up on time missed out seeing them. I’ve arranged several trips to Ireland over the summer.

Describe your working week

I split my working week between my consultant role at Walsall Manor Hospital, and private practice work at Scott Arms Dental Practice in north Birmingham. At Walsall, I treat complex multidisciplinary cases, including the treatment of patients with jaw deformities and impacted unerupted teeth. And, in private practice, I treat simple and complex cases in adults and children with both traditional fixed braces and aligners.

What led you to a career in orthodontics?

My first encounter with the orthodontist was when I was 11, and this sparked my initial interest. At Bristol Dental School we got a lot of hands-on orthodontic experience, and this further fuelled my interest in the specialty.

I enjoy the logical thought processes involved in planning and managing my cases; it can sometimes feel like trying to piece a complex jigsaw puzzle together, especially when unexpected challenges crop up during the treatment.

I have always been very creative and artistic, having had an interest in jewellery making. So when it came to bending wires for braces, it felt like a natural progression, and is an aspect of orthodontics that I still really enjoy and commonly use.

I also wanted a rewarding job, something filled with job satisfaction. And orthodontics certainly fits the bill. There are very few careers that are gratifying for both orthodontist and patient alike (Figures 1 and 2).

The case study is of a 12-year-old male. Class III incisors with 1mm overjet on a skeletal I base with slightly increased lower anterior face height and FMPA. This was complicated by a crossbite of UR2, mild upper arch spacing, mild lower arch crowding and upper centreline shift of 1mm to the left. There was an anterior displacement on closure present. The treatment was carried out on a non-extraction basis and took 18 months.

What has been the most challenging case you worked on?

Managing a difficult adult class III patient with aligners and discovering some upper anterior teeth are ankylosed, something which was not apparent from the outset. 

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in orthodontics?

  1. Case selection: choose your cases carefully, do not let a patient persuade you to provide treatment you do not feel appropriate (happening more and more now with the upsurge in adults seeking treatment)
  2. Manage patient expectations as failure to do so can lead to complaints (make use of smile simulations, previous cases and so on)
  3. Communicate effectively with your patients
  4. Do not be too proud to ask for help if you are unsure or treatment does not progress as planned. Even now, I regularly discuss complex and challenging cases with my colleagues. This is all part of peer review, and how we learn and become better orthodontists.

How has COVID-19 affected orthodontics?

Orthodontists have been quite fortunate as they have been affected least by COVID-19. All treatment can be undertaken on a non-aerosol basis; therefore, we have not had to deal with fallowing and so on. Despite this, I have made some changes to my clinical practice:

  1. Virtual appointments (video/telephone) for some initial consultations (followed up with F2F), as well as some retainer checks and emergency appointments
  2. Increase use of monitoring systems for aligner treatments allowing intervals between appointments to be slightly longer
  3. Increased use of email to liaise directly with patients/ review tooth movements in between F2F appointments.

What items do you value highly?

My Ixion instruments. I have tried various brands over the years, and nothing beats these. Now, I only use Ixion instruments, both in the hospital and private practice. I have recently invested in their new aligner range. I can add hooks and cut outs into my aligners.

What do you love most about your job?

The patients I meet, the bonds I form with them, and the smile transformation journeys I get to share with them, including the final rewarding smile at the end. Having the ability to truly change someone’s life for the better, improving their self-esteem and confidence. The debond day is often a very emotional moment for the patient, and the pure euphoria I get is hard to put into words. 


This article was first published in Private Dentistry magazine. Read the latest issue of Private Dentistry magazine here.

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