Observations from the AAO Leadership Development Conference

Ashish Gurav

I had the honor and privilege to be invited to participate as an emerging leader and representative of NESO in the annual AAO Leadership Development Conference held in Orlando, Florida in January 2022. The conference provided an excellent opportunity for AAO leadership, the next generation of orthodontic professionals, as well as orthodontic residents to congregate and present a comprehensive scope of all the initiatives AAO, AAOPAC, and AAO Foundation are involved in securing the future of the Orthodontic profession. The roundtable setting of the conference allowed participants from various constituencies across the United States and Canada to get to know each other and witness the diversity of thoughts among their peers.

With emerging technologies such as 3D imaging, tele orthodontics/tele dentistry, CAD/CAM modeling, 3Dprinting, and artificial intelligence, clinical orthodontic care is poised for yet another revolution in techniques and modalities of orthodontic care. Unsurprisingly, the AAO members are deeply involved in curating and promoting the safe use of these technologies in clinical practice. Specifically, from an educational perspective, AAO has launched the Tech Select program to provide a comprehensive and unbiased resource for the in-house fabrication of aligners to be designed and manufactured by orthodontists. Leadership Development Conference also provided an opportunity to meet the dedicated team of AAO staff involved behind the scenes in curating and maintaining the TechSelect program and hear their perspectives on how an organized orthodontic community can stay one step ahead of upcoming technological changes. Through AAO Foundation, the organization is also promoting research programs to foster evidence-based orthodontic practice. Support from AAOF is also vital for career development for orthodontic students and faculty like me. From a patient safety and advocacy perspective, AAO Legal and Advocacy team is making strides in shading light on the issues of direct-to-consumer aligner services as well as advocating for legislative changes to expand the accessibility of orthodontic care for larger population across the nation. Being a young professional, I am personally experiencing the effects of student loans, the increasing cost of education, and their effects on my aspirations of starting or owning my own orthodontic business. I am pleased to know that the AAO Advocacy team is also involved in legislative push in Washington, D.C. for student loan reforms and reducing fees and rates for future student loan borrowers. These efforts will have a huge positive impact on new and young AAO members.

The leadership development conference was a huge success in exhibiting various challenges, opportunities, and critical roles AAO is playing in the professional arena to promote the critical role of orthodontic specialty. I am thankful to the NESO leadership for inviting me to be a part of the annual AAO Leadership Conference and inspiring me to contribute to the next generation of AAO members through leadership and education.

Ashish Gurav, DMD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Orthodontics, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine


Bhoomi Kotak

I graduated in 2021 and had been looking for ways to get more involved with our local chapter and meet other orthodontists. When I got an invitation to the LDC conference, I was very excited but also nervous since I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was my first time attending LDC and was very impressed with the organization and the planning of the conference.

I really enjoyed my time at the conference and was extremely glad I could make it.

In the past, I have attended AAO annual session however, LDC was very different and taught me a lot more about practice management and leadership skills. I had the opportunity to interact with fellow leaders from all over the country, the AAO board of trustees, AAO staff members and the president himself. I must say, I had not been to any conference like this one before.

Keeping up with the current affairs in Orthodontics is important to me and I will be incorporating everything I learnt into my practice here in Boston.  From practice management to investment strategies for doctors, I took home valuable information and met new friends and potential colleagues. All the board members went out of their way to introduce themselves and involve the new members into the community.

Overall, it was a conference that had new and old experts that provided great content and at the same time, allowed individual conversations. The lectures and keynote speaker generated multiple ideas about expanding my individual skills and leadership qualifications. Additionally, the conference was held in Orlando, and I took some time after the conference to explore the wonderful city. It did make for a good weekend. I returned pumped and motivated to incorporate all the ideas to grow my ortho team and practice. I am thankful to have gotten the opportunity to go and I am looking forward to next year’s conference.

Bhoomi Kotak, DMD, MSD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics Practitioner, Saugus, MA