Facebook as an Education/Networking Tool

By Katie Graber, DDS, MS

Traditionally orthodontic professionals have relied upon refereed journals, scientific lectures or national/regional orthodontic meetings to garner information about the latest and best in treatment. In the last decade, many orthodontists have transitioned to attending distance-based seminars, listening to podcast recordings or following online group discussions in their area of interest. This, coupled with an increased attendance at specific vendor meetings, has changed the way information is communicated in our field to a portion of the membership.

One of the newer “remote” vehicles for information transfer is via private or closed Facebook groups. These groups can have a narrow or large focus. Some are grouped regionally, by alma mater, treatment style, etc. They can range in focus from practice design to technology to specific treatment products and/or mechanics.

Some forums that I follow include:

  • Elevate Orthodontics Podcast (1700+ members)
  • Ortho Cosmos Forum (1200+ members)
  • Jeff Nolte: Suresmile (300+members)
  • Women in Orthodontics (1200+ members)
  • AlignerInsider: Clinical Chat (1300+members)

Others include:

  • OrthoPreneurs (1600+ members)
  • The Pragmatic Orthodontist: Clinical (3000+ members)
  • The Pragmatic Orthodontist: Elite (150+ members)
  • Orthodontic Pearls (1800+ members)
  • OrthoX Elite
  • Ortho Aligner 3D Study Group
  • Ortho Voice
  • Sarver Orthodontic Study Group
  • Suresmile Synergy
  • Trios Orthodontic Study Group

These groups provide orthodontic professionals the opportunity to network online through a free source. Facebook closed groups permit the owner to determine the eligibility of the membership as well. Vetting members can take time and many of the host/owners do this on a voluntary basis. Additionally, the forum allows for easy photos, video and recording attachment and is an “in real time” communication tool for peer-peer discussions.

These orthodontic peer groups can get information to the user immediately. There is no waiting for a national or vendor meeting. While mostly anecdotal in nature, the “real life” experience of peers is a valuable source for cutting-edge advances. Sometimes the groups also use collective bargaining and/or group purchasing to earn discounts on products or services relevant to that group. Some I have seen include Mari’s list, 3D printers (Form2) and do-it-yourself aligner software. The discounts are above and beyond what a single orthodontic practice can earn or negotiate as the power comes from the sheer number of people interested/included in the discount group. This is another potential benefit to joining one of these online groups.

The Orthodontic Podcast group allows members to listen to orthodontists discuss current and relevant topics. This is reminiscent of the AAO Practical Reviews audio-cassette recordings of years past; albeit these have no continuing education credit associated nor are endorsed/reviewed/refereed by the AAO. A benefit of this type podcast (versus waiting for the practical reviews publication) is instant listening, the instant ability to download and listen across a broad spectrum of listening devices/locations. In addition, there is generally no fee (per se) to join the Facebook group nor listen in on many of the podcast recordings.

So, if you love “talking teeth” and have a specific interest; there is probably a Facebook group for you! Search your subject area under “groups” on Facebook and ask to join.


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