October is National Orthodontic Health Month, as observed by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), to promote orthodontic health and share information about orthodontic treatment. To mark the occasion, Nikhilesh Vaid, President of the World Federation of Orthodontists (WFO), joins us to discuss the WFO celebrating 25 successful years, current research and disruptions in the profession, and what’s next for the field of orthodontics.
Q: Can you tell us about your background in orthodontics?
A: I did my orthodontic training in India. I’ve been involved with part-time teaching and practice of Orthodontics in Mumbai, India. I got involved with organized orthodontic leadership more than a decade ago and have served the Indian Orthodontic Society as its Vice President & President, the Asian Pacific Orthodontic Society as its Editor in Chief and President. I’ve been an Executive Committee member of the World Federation of Orthodontists from Central & East Asia since 2015 and was elected to be President-Elect in 2018, and subsequently will be President from 2020-25. Professionally I have an exclusive orthodontic practice in Mumbai and Dubai, UAE. In addition, I teach at the Department of Orthodontics, European University, DHCC, Dubai, UAE.
Q: Can you give us more information on the WFO – why it was founded and what are its goals?
A: When the federation was founded on May 15, 1995, the hope was that it would “bring the orthodontic world together” and “advance the art and science of orthodontics throughout the world.” The objectives stated at inception were to; Encourage high standards in orthodontics throughout the world, encourage and assist in the formation of national associations and societies /certifying Boards when requested; Promote orthodontic research; Disseminate scientific information; Promote desirable standards of training and certification for orthodontists and organize the International Orthodontic Congress once every 5 years.
Next year, the WFO turns 25! A journey that commenced with 68 affiliate associations from 62 countries at the 4th International Orthodontic Congress over a quarter-century ago, now has 114 affiliated organizations, and almost 9000 orthodontic specialists as fellows in its fold today, all working towards to common goal of promoting excellence in orthodontics, globally.
Q: Twenty-five years is quite an achievement! Are there any plans to celebrate this milestone?
A: The WFO will celebrate its Silver Jubilee (25th anniversary) in 2020, beginning on World Orthodontic Health Day (May 15) and continue through the Opening Ceremonies of the 9th International Orthodontic Conference, which will be October 4-6 in Yokohama, Japan with a symbolic “smile flag”. The specially created “smile flag” will be a major element of the worldwide Silver Jubilee celebration. Dr. Allan R. Thom, president of the WFO, will present six flags to regional representatives of six regions of the WFO, serving on the WFO Executive Committee during the 2020 at the WFO President’s breakfast during the American Association of Orthodontists Annual Session next year(May 1-4 in Atlanta, Georgia).
Q: What is next for the WFO?
A: We realize that the need for global collaboration to serve our specialty and patients is even more in this age of disruption where conventional healthcare models are witnessing a paradigm shift in almost all parts of the world. Though the structure of the orthodontic specialty is different from country to country, the need for the best orthodontic care is universal. The WFO wants to reiterate its commitment to being an effective repository and communicator of both scientific information and professional advocacy solutions.
Q: You mentioned disruptions in the profession – what are the biggest disruption facing your field right now?
A: I wrote an editorial for APOS Trends in Orthodontics earlier this year titled –The Orthodontic World is Flat. The collision of the digital and virtual have given us endless possibilities of orthodontic treatment that were a distant dream at the turn of the century, however commercial interests driving these changes, or rather being important stakeholders of these changes risk commoditizing the specialty, which will change things about practice models as well as the care and concern our patients will receive.
Q: How has the field evolved since the WFO’s founding 25 years ago? What is next on the horizon in the field of orthodontics?
A: Orthodontics has been one of the early adopters of technological infusions. They have been summarized in the issue of Digital Orthodontics that I edited for Seminars in Orthodontics last year.
This has necessitated a need to look at orthodontic educational guidelines, consumer advisories, publications, and even board certifications differently. The terrain that we practice and teach orthodontics on has changed over the last quarter of a decade – and surely organized orthodontic organizations-whether national, regional or global must acknowledge this phenomenon and plan for the future!