I first took the Powerprox Six Month Braces CE course in Charlotte, NC back in Nov. 2004, and since that time, Short Term Orthodontics (STO) has been a steadily growing part of my general dentistry practice. With several hundred cases under my belt in that time, I’ve learned a lot, but as with anything we do, we usually run into complications or unexpected consequences, which is why it’s so important to continue learning, right? So this year, I decided it was time to get a refresher on Six Month Braces, attending the course in Santa Ana, CA on Feb. 7-8, 2013.
Course Description and Details
For a complete description, please visit the Powerprox Six Month Braces website for course details, but here is my summary:
General dentists learn cosmetic orthodontic techniques from Dr. Rick DePaul, who has been teaching these techniques for more than 12 years and has taught hundreds of dentists around the USA how to predictably and easily straighten teeth. With a strong focus on proper diagnosis and case evaluation to ensure doctors don’t take on cases they shouldn’t, Dr. DePaul teaches you a conservative, non-invasive, safe way to give patients beautiful smiles using modern orthodontic techniques in 6 months.
- Tuition: $1997
- Hours: 14 hours of AGD/PACE CE credit
- Attendees: Open to all, no experience required
- Dates: Feb. 7-8, 2013
- Location: Courtyard Marriott in Santa Ana, CA
A Brief Introduction
As mentioned previously, this was not my first course with Rick DePaul. I was introduced to him through DentalTown.com (another of those recurring themes you’ll see in my recommendations), where I saw case after case of cosmetic orthodontic treatment completed predictably and with non-invasive methods. At the time, I was doing a lot of “aggressive” cosmetic dentistry with porcelain veneers and crowns, but there were certainly cases that required VERY aggressive preps, to the point that patients decided not to proceed with treatment, which meant they had to keep living with a smile they hated. I wanted an option to help them, and at the time, we were also looking for more options to increase production through new procedures. The Powerprox Six Month Braces Technique became that option.
Initially, we did very few cases, but it grew steadily as part of our practice. In 2009, we were doing enough STO to think of adding in Invisalign, but that was when they started their case requirements, which turned into a huge fiasco. (We have added Invisalign since that requirement ceased.) Instead, I decided to take a competing STO course with a fellow Townie named Ryan Swain. He was willing to help me out with some marketing at the time, so I kind of “turned traitor” and used that system for a couple years. The indirect bracketing option seemed a good idea at the time for speed and convenience, the cost seemed reasonable, and the marketing helped us grow the amount of STO that we were doing tremendously. In fact, the amount of STO that we did in 2009 – 2011 was a primary factor in our growth and survival during the Depression.
However, by mid-2011 we realized that the lab costs were becoming unbearable – including retainers, that competing company’s lab costs for a single case were about $600. We began purchasing supplies on our own and doing direct bracket placement and realized $4-500 savings per case! However, since I was relying heavily on my assistants at that time, we were experiencing more difficulties with cases finishing properly.
So in 2012, I chose the motto “Master the Fundamentals Again.” I committed to doing fewer procedures but ensuring that I would truly master all of the ones that I kept doing. With STO such a big part of my practice, this was a key. I began placing all brackets myself again, doing more careful diagnosis, etc., but more CE was needed, too. At that point, I was debating whether to go back to Rick’s class, or with Ryan’s company…..UNTIL a long-time Townie reported a major customer service problem with 6MonthSmiles on DentalTown, and suddenly the floodgate of complaints opened. Wow – the company that Ryan started suddenly seems to have forgotten what customer service means, and that meant there was only one option…..Powerprox.
Why Powerprox Six Month Braces Technique with Rick DePaul
Having been through both the Powerprox Six Month Braces and the 6MonthSmiles courses, I feel comfortable comparing the 2 companies, but that isn’t really the point of this article. I will simply say this: given what I have heard from numerous sources about the 6 Month Smiles company, I would not recommend them under any circumstances, and buyer beware. Beyond that, you’ll have to do your own research.
The reasons why I recommend Dr. DePaul’s course:
- Dr. DePaul personally teaches every course
- Dr. DePaul has more cases under his belt than pretty much anyone out there and has been teaching it longer than pretty much anyone else out there
- If you need personal support, Dr. DePaul will respond to phone or email contacts in a ridiculously short time – usually less than an hour. Trust me – I know. 🙂
- When you take the course, you get an automatic 1-year membership in the Powerproxdocs.com website
- There are zero case requirements to maintain your membership or get support – heck, if you’ve never even attended one of Rick’s courses but have a question on ortho, Rick will still answer.
- The annual membership fee for the website is only $497. Don’t tell him I said so, but it’s a ridiculously low fee for the incredible value he provides. It would be a bargain at 2-3x more.
- There is ZERO pressure to buy any products, coupons, equipment, etc., for the simple reason that Rick doesn’t sell any of that stuff.
Now – those are the reasons why I recommend this course, but that’s not really my review………so let’s get to that now:
FIVE-STAR Dental Continuing Ed
Yeah, I know……ANOTHER one, right? LOL Like I said in my review of Jason Smithson’s Composite Artistry course, I usually only take a CE course after knowing a lot about it, getting a lot of recommendations, etc. If it doesn’t get good reviews from people I trust, I probably won’t attend it. But the point of these reviews is to share my experiences, and since my goal is to only have really awesome experiences, my goal is to only have awesome reviews! 😉
With several hundred cases of STO under my belt since 2004, almost all successes but a few that I wasn’t happy with and a few that ended up with very unanticipated problems, part of what I wanted from this course (it’s an intro course but was a refresher for me) was to learn better diagnosis, as well as to learn what new tips and tricks Rick could teach me to deal with certain difficult situations, including open bites, deep bites, Class II and III occlusions, severe rotations, and various combinations. And boy was I rewarded!
In the current Six Month Braces 101 course that Rick teaches, there is equal emphasis on proper diagnosis, cases that are appropriate to treat, and cases that are inappropriate to treat. One thing I’ve always disliked is doing ceph analysis. Now – you don’t really need a ceph x-ray to do STO, but there are certain cases where it can be really handy to avoid starting cases that are more difficult. We do have combination ceph/panoramic x-ray machine, but until now, I haven’t done nearly as much with the cephs as I should, but Rick teaches some simple techniques to evaluate them that I really like and know that I can do quickly. This is REALLY reassuring!
Rick also teaches a set of simple-to-use tips and techniques to predictably handle some of the most common case complications:
- When to use elastics, which ones work best, which ones patients hate
- How to diagnose and treat tongue thrusts to decrease retention problems post-completion
- How to rotate teeth quickly and easily with hooks, buttons, slingshots, and powerchains
- Why composite bumps are so incredibly helpful in so many cases to prevent bracket breakage and speed up case progression, where you should and shouldn’t put them
IOW – Rick teaches a very simple system that gives you all the tools you need to treat the cases you should, as well as emphasizing how to identify cases that you should not treat until you have a lot more experience.
The Six Month Braces 101 course is designed particularly to teach total beginners to orthodontic treatment, but I also recommend it highly for those who have a moderate-or-higher level of experience, as it is an excellent refresher.
I was extremely pleased in retaking Rick’s course, and I am now excited about taking the Master’s Level Course in May 2013, so be on the lookout for a review of that course in just a few more months.