Sewing memories together…
Felix Hoette and Maura Hoette
The year?... 1970! Setting up an office...on a storey...of a building...in a big city...with no professional support, either from relatives, friends or acquaintances (there were no dentists in our circle)...
Yes indeed: beginning to work in Orthodontics in those days was an Adventure! A single dental brace, for one patient, took an entire month to put together! Bands on all the teeth! The bands were not prefabricated! They came in rolls, with different thicknesses for each grouping of teeth; thicker and harder for the molars, a little less for the pre-molars, more flexible for the canines and even more so for the incisors.
The sequence for making them was slow: 1- Cut the length of the metal strips which can be pinched for lingual; 2- Solder the ends; 3- Lightly re-cut the sides to accommodate the interproximal papillae; 4- Adjust it to the tooth and pinch with pliers specifically for the molars and pre-molars, and other pliers specifically for the canines and incisors; 5- Solder at the limit where pinched; 6- Cut the extension of the metal strip; 7- Fold at the limit of the solder, and solder again; 8- Re-cut the gingival and interproximal flanges, now defined; 9- Place it once more on the tooth, burnish and mark the height for the solder of the bracket or tube; 10- Solder the bracket or tube and re-cut the occlusal excesses of the burnishing; 11- Place the band on the tooth once more for the last burnishing and checking of the height of the bracket or tube; 12- PHEW! Finally, the cement! But oh no, the cement wasn’t the wonderful glass ionomer we know and love; it was the terrible and brittle oxyphosphate! (yes, we had to import the cement too!!) Just work out the time for all of this! And all the suffering for the separations! So many times!
The pre-shaped metal strips (with some modelling for buccal) were already better to use. Can you imagine how happy we were, when the prefabricated bands appeared? And even more so, later, when the pre-soldered ones came along? Now imagine what it was like to make a diagnosis of the case and have to take account of the consumption of all that space taken up by the thickness of the band metal strips! And, before everything else, you had to do all the patient’s documentation. The laboratories only did the radiography; the rest was up to us. Preparing the models and polishing them was another job which took up another 16 or 17 hours of our time. That is to say, we worked day and night! Not forgetting that we had to send off for 50kg sacks of Mossoró plaster, from Rio Grande do Norte as it was difficult to get here!
And we spent many years under the military dictatorship, when buying foreign material was audacious. At the time, we had a contact in Recife who had relatives in the USA, and who often went there, and who managed to bring us some materials. We sent dollars wrapped in newspaper, through the post, but with no receipt and no guarantee that they wouldn’t be lost or that we would receive the materials. It was common for us to have to lend to each other so that we could continue to work. We well remember when we went to the Tweed Foundation, who advised us (do you remember, Tieo?) to take old pliers, and bring back new ones, leaving the old ones there. Do you know why? Because in the AI-5 period (the dictatorship) one could not exit the country without declaring everything one was taking abroad. It was a long list, but worth it, as we brought back plenty of new items, leaving the old ones there!
Later, we were happy with the appearance of the direct adhesives, and with them, the mesh to solder onto the bases of the brackets... how sad, what hard work, and what results! Thank God that before long brackets came along which were ready for gluing. Finally... the great ease we now have!!
Yes, orthodontic treatment was expensive! And the cost of our training, even more so! Two years, full time, from Monday to Saturday (yes, we had classes on Saturdays), with all the costs to pay ourselves, that is, our parents or grants.
Nevertheless, we’re grateful for all these difficulties, as it was they that gave us the firm path along which we have travelled on our professional journey, with success and satisfaction. And how much good fruit have we collected! How much happiness and fulfilment! How many good memories did this difficult time leave us! Today, however, there is sadness, in seeing that in spite of so many, and all of the facilities currently available, we are experiencing the speciality’s banalization, through reasons of financial or political gain. Furthermore, the loss is devastating, as, unfortunately, under these circumstances it is not only the speciality that is denigrated; also, the population is provided with attendance of dubious quality.
All the same, we shall never lose hope that there may be change, as - being in the mature phase of our lives – we are increasingly certain that we are on this journey to serve, and serve with quality. The Universe does not switch off its natural law of cause and effect, and what one sows is what one reaps. So, one serves quality in life, and receives quality of life! There is a phrase from the Bible which has always accompanied us: “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap”
Dra Maura Hoette [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Dr. Felix Hoette [email@example.com]