May I, as an overseas orthodontist and reader of the Journal , comment on the remarkable letter by the second-year student Marjan Askari in the November 2010 issue (Askari M, Katz M. Common sense revisited. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2010;138:535)? It can be salutary for us to be viewed by such an open mind, and many of the writer’s comments ring true. The most important question we should be asking is why, after more than 100 years, we don’t know which methods work best.
On the face of it, all we need to do is treat a series of matched patients prospectively by different methods and see which work out best. As far as I am aware, this has not been done. No one has much faith in retrospective material, and random trials are not really appropriate for orthodontics. Within 2 years, we would have a good idea of their relative merit and, within 10, could respond to most of Askari’s doubts.
Unfortunately, failures can become very obvious in prospective trials, but we should not be chicken about this. I have tried twice before to launch this simple research using Angle’s traditional classifications to match the patients. Not perfect perhaps, but, by using many clinicians and just a few classifications, the truth would soon tumble out. I have a simple protocol ready for anyone to see.