You Need the Swing (and the Clubs are Nice, too) . . .

You Need the Swing (and the Clubs are Nice, too) . . .

As a genuine sports fan, I try to follow most major sporting events, and so I found myself captivated this past weekend with the story lines from one of professional golf’s greatest and most storied tournaments—The Masters at Augusta National. The 21-year old American phenom Jordan Spieth not only won the tournament by a comfortable 4 strokes, but he tied the Maters’ all-time scoring record at 18 strokes under par; and 44-year old veteran and fan favorite Phil Mickelson proved he still has some magic left by making a serious run at a fourth Masters’ victory, and tied for second place by posting a score of 14 under par. Watching these professionals, I am blown away at how talented they are, by the level of precision they have dialed into their swing to achieve amazing consistency. As an observant fan, I know that what sets the best professional golfers apart isn’t the brand of clubs they use, but their swing.

Occasionally, I will hear of patients selecting an orthodontist based on what brand of braces (e.g., the Damon System) or other appliances (e.g., Invisalign) are offered. These patients have been convinced that those specific braces or appliances alone will make the treatment results superior to that of other orthodontists.

There is a danger in that type of thinking. Like golf clubs, braces and orthodontic appliances are simply a tool; and the doctor’s care, knowledge, and skills in planning the treatment, placing the braces, prescribing and directing the Invisalign movements, etc., are like a golfer’s swing. Would you rather have Jordan Spieth’s or Phil Mickelson’s clubs or their swings? Of course you’d rather have the swing! A casual weekend golfer could buy these professionals’ exact clubs and there will be no significant change in his average score. Although the clubs may feel better executing certain shots, they will essentially make zero overall difference. Obviously, you need an excellent swing to win The Masters, and it requires infinitely more than a certain brand of clubs. The same is true with orthodontic treatment—the plan and skills of the doctor are much more important than the tools that are used in order to achieve an excellent result. Of course the tools are important—personally, I prefer the highest quality brackets, wires, aligners, etc., and absolutely love using them—but the tools themselves are not enough to ensure results. I take the “swing” very seriously by seeking to master the latest in continuing education. Just like in golf, in orthodontics, the winning combination is a precision swing and premium clubs.