Q&A with POS Founder Dr. Don McGann [Part 2] | My worldwide vision for GP orthodontics

Posted by POS Course Adviser on 5/25/18 7:53 AM

Early in his career, Dr. Don McGann dedicated himself to sharing the joy of orthodontics with dentists around the world. Learn more about how his vision came to life in this interview.

Watch part 1 of this interview here.


MILES MCGANN: So let's come back around to POS again. You started this in 1984. Did you have any idea what the ride would take you on?

DR. DON MCGANN: No. No, my vision was this far and it just went to the whole world. It just kept expanding though because I just kept trying to find a better way and realizing that the dentists that I was teaching were looking to me to teach them in the right way, just like a patient would look to me. I was obligated to come up with something that they could understand, something they could do even though they've been told they couldn't. So in the process it went way beyond just making out some title slides and teaching a few concepts and helping somebody with a diagnosis. It went way beyond that. It went to let's make it so that you don't have to make wire bends. Let's make it so that they're not going to have this problem that only the most skilled people could get through.

MILES: I think that's been a hallmark of your philosophy with POS, is that it has to be 100% reproducible by every dentist in the world. You’ve traveled the world, you've taught dentists in many countries around the world. Basically there is a POS guy in almost every country with tremendous amount of different backgrounds and different training. But you teach a single system whether they're in Beverly Hills or Timbuktu and your belief has always been if you teach a certain way, no matter who you are, no matter what your background is, you can still perform orthodontics at the highest level in the entire world.

DR. MCGANN: That's exactly the objective. In a seminar of 50 people, they're all not of the same skill level and the teacher is probably the most skilled in the room, or should be. And I did, I had great hands. It was easy for me, but can you expect everyone in the room to be able to reproduce what the most skilled person is doing? No, it's impossible. So you have to get down to the basic level of what can everybody do here? Everybody can put a bracket on the tooth and everybody can probably choose the right bracket for that tooth with a little bit of training. And through different bracket designs they can do phenomenal work that previously only the most skilled orthodontist could do.

MILES: We're looking at your career and how it has developed with the IP Appliance. I think that being forced to make it so reproducible has also made you a significantly better orthodontist because I remember you telling me one time with all those wire bands, you could do all the fancy wire bends. You'd go back and relook at your cases afterwards and you'd say well this case didn't come out as good as that case. And you'd be like "Well why did that happen to me? Well I just had a bad day of wire bending" because some days your hands just weren't working as well as other days. I remember you saying well if I can make it reproducible for every single dentist in the world, why can't I reproduce every case to be at the highest standards? So taking away a lot of the hand skill that is variable between one dentist to the other and the same dentist day to day, allowed you to increase the level of orthodontics significantly because you took away those variables.

DR. MCGANN: If you at the beginning of a case can promise somebody that they're going to look good through this and their money is going to be well-spent, and their effort is going to be well spent and having to clean their teeth with brackets on it for the next two years is going to be worth it, then you definitely want to be able to come through with that promise. If you can do that on a consistent basis and meet and exceed the expectations of that patient, your practice is going to boom.

MILES: And that was the entire motivation behind IP is to get away from wire bending. Make it so that every single person could place a bracket, which is something that you felt like is much more reproducible and if they just made the right decisions, put the bracket on the right spot, let the tool cook, you know the quality of care would go significantly up.

DR. MCGANN: And it did. It did. There's just no question about it. Things that only I could do through elaborate experienced wire bending with a tremendous amount of effort in the office, oh my gosh all I did all day long was bend these wires trying to make the cases turn out. And of course most dentists and orthodontists, even if they can do it, they aren't going to do it. It's just too much effort. It has to come from inside you and if you don't have that personal desire to exceed and to do a great job, the patient is going “take them off I'm happy, they're straight” and you're going “no they aren't. I'm not I'm not done yet. I've got more things I want to do. My biggest problem was talking them into more and more and more so I could personally be satisfied with the job that I did. Now with IP, through the bracket designs, the arch wires, the different shapes of arch wires, the different materials in the arch wires, all of a sudden I didn't have to wire bend. I didn't have to wire bend and the cases look like I spent months and months and months of wire bending on them. I just saved hours of tedious work. Okay, and now all the other students that learned how to use that could come up with those results without having to go through the wire bending and have the exceptional skills that it took to make that happen. All of a sudden we had like a system that you could get the best results without being the best at wire bending and even treatment planning because I wrote the treatment plans.

MILES: Where do you see ortho going?

DR. MCGANN: In the specialty or...?

MILES: As a whole. I mean I don't like to separate out the specialty from the generalist because in my opinion if the general dentist is doing the same quality work, ortho is ortho. So where do you see the field going?

DR. MCGANN: Well people are always going to want to have straight teeth. They're going to want to look better. I think that's a given. I don't think that is going to go away. I think that'll only grow more so ortho is something that the demand for care will increase. Orthodontists have been reduced in numbers every year for the last 20 years, I think. They're just not they're not putting out enough orthodontists to take care of the ones that are retiring or died or whatever so it's reducing number which means that the ones that are there will be probably quite busy and that's fine with me. Be busy. I think there's an opportunity in orthodontics with the increase in demands and if you're educated to see the work that needs to be done there's a tremendous opportunity for you in an area of dentistry that's very rewarding. It's very rewarding. There is not a feeling like taking off somebody's braces in dentistry. It's rare. You know sometimes you just cry just doing it and seeing their face. So the profession I think is going to grow. GP orthodontics for sure because there's more demand and fewer orthodontists and you know of course I don't know how fast that's going to go but I would guess it's going to grow quite quickly. GP education is I think well positioned where we are and I don't see any other any other competition that even comes close to what we do. So I think we're in a very, very good place for that and as a whole orthodontics has to go to higher quality. The people are going to demand higher quality, higher quality, higher quality. They don't want the poor quality and that has been a trend throughout the world, Asia included. All of a sudden things that were acceptable are no longer acceptable. They want it done right. They want it done well and if you can't do it well, well they're going to find a dentist that can. So as a young dentist you're obligated to take the best course you can. Learn to do it really well. Learn to do everything really well that you offer and that's going to be your key to success in orthodontics. I can tell you if you do it well you will have lots of patients that want you.

MILES: Alright, well thank you so much. It's a pleasure having these discussions and we appreciate it. And Miles I have to say I'm proud of my son. He has taken this company where I left off and I think it's way better now than what it was when I was here.

What do you think the future holds for GP orthodontics? Share in the comments below!

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