We hope that you enjoyed the short video above; it is a poignant example of our continued transformations and commitment to honoring our past. This video was our original “Virtual Tour” that was produced when we launched the first version of our website in 2010. As you can see, over the years our website has grown and adapted to current improvements in technology and we have met the challenges to stay up to date as new techniques and products are introduced to our industry. But the video is also a tribute to the foundation of our program and our desire to maintain the excellence, integrity and commitment that Big Bob established and that we are dedicated to maintaining.
1965: Were you born yet? Picture those times:
Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States, and the first U.S. ground combat forces sent to Viet Nam conflict were authorized.
Quarterback Joe Namath signed with the New York Jets, and Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics. Jack Nicklaus won the Masters, and Peggy Fleming was the U.S. Figure Skating female champion.
“The Sound of Music” was released.
“My Girl” by the Temptations was a #1 song, and the Beatles had the top-selling vinyl album.
The Ford Mustang was in its second year of production. Tobacco sellers were required by law to print a health warning on cigarette packages.
Technology breakthroughs included Telstar, the first communication by satellite. Sony debuted a home video tape recorder for $995. The first video game console was still a year away (1966).
In that same year, a young Bob Gerety graduated from the University of Tennessee at Memphis. He had successfully passed both the Oklahoma Dental Boards and a Regional Board, which would allow him to practice in Texas. In fact, Bob’s original plan was to open his practice in Houston. Instead, in 1965, Bob moved to the small town of Henryetta, OK, and opened his dental office. Why Henryetta? What caused a change in Bob’s plan? When he finished dental school, Bob had three children: all girls, ages 5, 4, and 3. After spending four years living in Memphis, Bob felt that a smaller town would provide a better environment for raising his family. So his plans for practicing in Houston were abandoned, and the family moved to Henryetta.
Henryetta was a small town of about 7,500 people in 1965, but there were multiple small towns in the area that were a constant source of new patients for Bob’s dental practice. These surrounding towns had never had a local dentist. Many of Bob’s patients included young people who needed orthodontics, but there was no specialist to whom they could be referred. Bob tried to convince orthodontic specialists of the need, and he asked these specialists to consider working in his Henryetta office once per week each month. However, no one would agree to make that trip to Henryetta, so the children didn't get braces. Henryetta is located over an hour from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the location of the nearest orthodontist, and most patient’s families couldn't make those frequent trips to the larger cities. Undeterred, Bob saw a need and wanted to fill it.
Bob ultimately decided he would learn orthodontics in order to be able to help these children from Henryetta and the surrounding towns. He enrolled in an orthodontic continuing education program at the University of St. Louis Dental School in 1967. This was a post-graduate CE course on the “edgewise” orthodontic technique. Bob traveled to St. Louis once a month for one year to take the course.
The first year of the course was similar to the curriculum of a post-graduate degree in orthodontics. The first-year classes were lecture-style only; no clinical or hands-on instruction was included. Bob studied human growth and development, physiology, head/neck anatomy, orthopedic studies, but he was disappointed by the lack of clinical training during that first year of the course.
Unfortunately during that same year, the University of St. Louis Dental School determined they were not financially sound; the dental school was to close. At the time, the dental school had about 350 tuition-paying students spread out over the 4-year program, so the program remained open until the last class graduated in 1971. However, in late 1967, all post-graduate continuing education programs were canceled, including that in which Bob was enrolled.
As a result, Bob never received the clinical education that was the entirety of year two of the course. These were the classes which would teach the students to actually perform the procedures and do the exercises. Imagine how disappointing that development must have been. Bob had invested a year of his time, 12 trips to St. Louis, and he received not a single moment of clinical hands-on training.
In 1970, Bob learned of an orthodontic program in San Diego that was a “Straight Wire” program. Straight Wire was a new system of orthodontics developed by Dr. Larry Andrews. The Straight Wire program was viewed as more systematic, efficient, and predictable than Edgewise orthodontics. Because the mechanics involve less wire bending, there is less room for human error. In orthodontics, wire bending takes much more time; if we can avoid wire-bending, it is a more efficient way to accomplish orthodontic movements and get the desired results. Bob went to San Diego and learned the mechanics of Straight Wire orthodontics. He recounted many times that if the Straight Wire technique had not been developed, it would have been impossible for general dentists to master orthodontics.
Nevertheless, after Bob’s disappointing experience at the University of St. Louis, coupled with the limited amount of information he received in the training course in San Diego, there were still many questions left unanswered and much more information and support for orthodontics was needed… AHA! Bob saw the need for someone to teach orthodontics to other general dentists. At that time, there were very few general dentists who had the experience and knowledge to teach. More specifically, orthodontic specialists were unwilling to teach orthodontics to general dentists; they felt the need to protect their specialty. Bob ordered every orthodontic text and periodical available to him and began his own pursuit of a comprehensive orthodontic education. Bob spent the next six years of his own practice documenting everything he did regarding orthodontics, everything he learned, and his understanding of what was important to the process. Bob also took every course available to general dentists; building his knowledge base from every possible venue. It was also during these years that Bob's fourth child and only son Grant was born. There could not have been many free hours for Bob in those years: a family man, operating his own private dental practice, and teaching himself orthodontics while creating what would ultimately become his curriculum and teaching materials.
In 1976, Bob taught his first course. That first course was limited to cephalometrics and diagnosis because those were the topics for which Bob had completed his teaching materials. Keep in mind the date, 1976, long before the age of current technology: All of Bob’s teaching slides were made at that time by a company in Dallas called Superior Graphics. In 1976, Bob was paying $65 “per” slide to have his slides produced, each one a color slide with graphics. That was quite an endeavor on Bob’s part. He spent nights and weekends photographing each step of the technique on the Typodont, and then demonstrating the same mechanics being used on his patients. The photography equipment available in the mid 70’s added to the monumental task. Processing of the film itself would take weeks. Quite often, rolls and rolls of film yielded not a single useable image, and the entire process had to be repeated. It is difficult to imagine the fortitude that it took to complete and document an entire program of orthodontic mechanics from start to finish. Nevertheless, once Bob was satisfied that he had a solid program ready to share, he was off and running.
In Dallas, Bob began his course by teaching three separate programs: beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses. However, Bob soon learned that the 3-level format wasn’t very effective. He learned that students often enrolled in the wrong program: beginning students took the advanced session; advanced students sometimes enrolled in the beginning session. Bob continued teaching this course format for just a couple of years. He realized the 3-level structure lacked the organization and methodology that was required for learning and mastering orthodontic techniques.
In 1978, Bob developed what he called the “extended program.” It was a 5-session, comprehensive orthodontic program designed to teach orthodontics from beginning to end. The five classes required a complete commitment: students couldn’t take just one class without the others. All five parts were required. His extended program format was extremely successful.
Bob began teaching the extended program in Dallas only, and the courses were very popular. The enrollment was so large, Bob had to divide the number of students into two groups. That also had drawbacks: sometimes all would come to group 1 and vice versa. Bob's course drew tremendous crowds and amazing attendance. Demand was so great that we were forced to cut off enrollments and put dentists on a waiting list.
In 1979, we began to consider expanding the course to other cities. The first cities added to the course opportunities were New Orleans and Louisville. We maintained the course in Dallas, returning to a single group. All three locations filled to capacity with a waiting list, which prompted us to add a fourth location in 1980: Charlotte, NC. Now with these four locations -- Charlotte, Louisville, New Orleans, and Dallas -- we were geographically diverse. The courses in all four locations proved to be enormously successful.
You can do the math: five continuing educational sessions rotating in four cities equals 20 three-day weekends of teaching and travel. That did not include the study clubs, organizational groups, and the two annual update meetings that Bob taught. From Monday through Thursday each week, Bob continued to maintain a thriving and successful private practice back in Henryetta, OK. Bob was meeting the dental and orthodontic needs of Henryetta children, as well as those of small town citizens who simply needed a good dental practitioner. Over many three-day teaching weekends, the continuing education and professional needs of by-now thousands of general dentists were being met. And the needs of his family and his four children, not incidentally, were also being met.
“We see only what we know; we know only what we’re taught.”
When Bob first learned orthodontics and was practicing the Straight Wire technique, the technique was taught using both extraction and non-extraction methods. The majority of cases used non-extraction treatment, but at that time Bob was still removing teeth when there was significant crowding. In the early 80’s, Bob read an article about non-extraction technique in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics written by an orthodontist from Boston named Dr. Norman Cetlin. Bob traveled and took Dr. Cetlin’s continuing education course, a program not openly offered to general dentists. When Bob enrolled in the course, he didn’t actually lie about the fact that he was a general dentist; in fact, no one asked him about that. They didn’t realize that Bob was not an orthodontist until Bob was already present and participating. However, he was not dismissed and was allowed to complete the course. On the other hand, something remarkable happened: though Bob was not welcomed or accepted by the other attending doctors, who were specialists, we were not ignored or avoided by Dr. Cetlin, the instructor. Dr. Cetlin was kind, giving, and shared his information with us. Dr. Cetlin and Bob developed a friendship that endured throughout both their entire careers.
At that time in the early 80’s, Bob made a commitment that he would practice non-extraction orthodontics. As an orthodontic specialist, Dr. Cetlin’s technique produced stellar results but required absolute patient compliance. That difficulty prompted Bob to search for a fixed technique that required less compliance from the patient. Bob had recently been introduced to a fixed technique that had been suggested by a student he taught in Dallas. That student suggested, “Why don’t you use the bimetric distalizing arch to distalize the upper molars instead of removing teeth?” So at the same time that Bob was embracing Dr. Cetlin’s philosophy/technique of non-extraction, he also identified a mechanic that allowed him to distalize molars. This was a real break-through moment for Bob in the development of his own techniques and procedures. Previously, we had never had the mechanics to actually distalize teeth. Learning the Cetlin technique on non-extraction and how to develop the lower arch – and at the same time learning about the bimetric distalizing arch from Dr. Wilson for moving the upper molars distally – both were mechanical breakthroughs that allowed Gerety Orthodontic Seminars to develop our own techniques, mechanics, and treatment methods that fit the particular patient.
At the same time, the Gerety Orthodontic Seminars course developed and progressed. Locations changed periodically as we migrated toward the locations of potential students. We taught all over the United States: in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Charlotte, New Orleans, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, San Diego, Houston, Cleveland, Detroit, and even Hawaii. Lucky for us, Gerety Orthodontic Seminars was in the right place at the right time. Bob spent his life documenting his techniques and the results he and his patients achieved. He acknowledged that his orthodontic results changed dramatically over the years and were at their peak in 1989. It is astonishing to reflect on how much was accomplished in that Henryetta dental office where Bob practiced for 35 years until he retired in 2000.
In the meantime, by 1989 Bob had spent 10 years perfecting his orthodontic techniques, improving the mechanics, and validating and documenting his treatment results. His documentation included not only the mechanics that worked at the time of treatment, but also the longevity and stability of the treatments. Bob explained that it is impossible to say whether any treatment works until you evaluate it a year post-treatment and then two years post-treatment. Consistent results five years post-treatment definitively prove that the finished results are stable.
Once we started the non-extraction protocol, another need emerged in terms of modifying the appliance we were using for molar distalization. At that time Bob began working with Lindsey Brehm to engineer the MDA appliance. That appliance is probably one of the most widely used appliances by general dentists practicing orthodontics today. It allowed us to distalize molars, and the modifications made to the bimetric distalizing arch would make the appliance more efficient. Both appliances do the same thing, but the changes that Bob made to the arch form and to the wire size enabled the appliance to become much more controllable, predictable, and effective. The additional control and efficiency are qualities that have had an enormous positive impact on its use by the dentist in general practice.
Bob taught the most successful program for general and pediatric dentists for just over 33 years, retiring from teaching in 2009. He taught orthodontics to over 12,000 doctors. But another need had emerged: our hero Big Bob was ill, broken. We couldn’t let the Gerety course die, fall by the wayside, or fade out of existence. A mammoth amount of information, in the form of instruction, technique, and case studies, as well as personal experience and expertise, had been accumulated and documented over Bob’s career.
Yet because of Bob’s diagnosis of dementia in 2008, we were uncertain about the future direction of his orthodontic program. We believed the Gerety knowledge base should be preserved. We were determined to try to continue what Bob had spent his lifetime creating and doing. I always said that in retirement I wanted to write a book, to publish a text for the general dentist using all of Bob’s cases and documentation. Instead, with the capabilities of technology today, the development of an on-line format seemed the best option to ensure the continuation of the Gerety orthodontic curriculum. Consequently, in 2009, Gerety Orthodontic Seminars was born in order to provide a vehicle to preserve Bob’s information. Bob also wanted to preserve the program and its availability. He knew he couldn’t teach any longer, but he also knew that others could continue to share his program with dentists who would then use that knowledge to help their own patients.
Becoming an approved provider for continuing education accreditation by the Academy of General Dentistry was one of our first tasks. This was paramount to our success because this accreditation allowed us to conduct our seminars without an outside sponsor's direction, influence, or obligation. Accreditation gave us the authority to control our course content and techniques as Bob developed them. We received approval from the Academy of General Dentistry as a PACE provider. Unfortunately, the AGD had failed to accommodate technological advances in CE delivery. At that time, the AGD had determined that all online CE programs would be designated as self-instruction. The number of self- instruction hours accepted for continuing education credit by most states was limited to only 8 hours. In a two-year process of surmounting bureaucratic hurdles, Gerety Orthodontic Seminars was instrumental in an essential change by the AGD regarding CE labeling. Approval by the Dental Education Council and the entire board of the AGD was required, along with a new definition for participation/hands-on courses in the PACE Lexicon of Terms.* This critical component in continuing education was accomplished in 2016, when online self-instruction hours were re-categorized as lecture and participation hours . This enhanced the appeal and practicality of the Gerety online program, which offers 75 hours of participation and 25 hours of lectures.
Our online program is currently in 15 countries throughout the world, accessible to any person with Internet access. Our program is Bob’s actual presentation; it’s not merely a video of someone teaching a live class that is being held on location. Gerety Orthodontic Seminars offers you the identical presentations that you would experience in our on-site classroom, with the ability for the student to stop the session, take notes, rewind, and review an unlimited amount of times. Our teaching script is taken from Bob’s instruction, drawn from recordings of Bob’s teaching over the years; the curriculum written for this course has been developed from Bob’s own lectures. We offer Bob’s programs on-line, with 24/7/365 access to anyone in the world. In addition, we continue to offer our live 5-session comprehensive course in the classroom here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Gerety Orthodontic Seminars now offers on-line mini-courses on 12 different specific topics, in addition to our comprehensive program. Each year an annual symposium is presented in order to update doctors on new and advanced treatment mechanics. In addition to the information, our symposium is an excellent opportunity for networking and the discussion of cases with colleagues.
Along with the comprehensive Gerety materials, techniques, and case studies, what sets our program apart is our staff of instructors. We have six instructors who work with our program. These instructors bring you their cases, their treatment, their patients – all of whom have been treated with the Gerety technique, using Bob’s philosophy, so that we can show how these orthodontic methods have withstood the test of time. Testimonials of the enduring stability of patients treated using Gerety methods are an enormous part of how we demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods. The Gerety orthodontic program is as current today as it was 40 years ago when Bob first started the program.
Today, at Gerety Orthodontic Seminars, we recognize the needs of the general dentist who wants to provide orthodontic services to his/her patients. We appreciate the struggles of busy professionals located in diverse locations, juggling the demands of professional and personal lives. We understand the diverse learning styles of our individual dentists, practitioners who are expanding their skills while bringing to us the complexities of patients who are being treated in their offices back home.
With Big Bob’s example and with the curriculum and techniques he developed and perfected over a career that spanned 40 years, Gerety Orthodontic Seminars is poised to offer the most comprehensive and flexible orthodontic educational programs available today. How do we meet your needs? We offer proven instruction, with hundreds of testimonials from students who are graduates of the Gerety courses. We offer the lowest student/teacher ratio in continuing dental education, along with ongoing individual consulting and assistance during and after our classroom sessions. Gerety Orthodontic Seminars provides you with continuous on-line availability for unlimited repetition and review of knowledge and techniques, with a vast library of cases available for study. With flexibility and a history of proven success, Gerety Orthodontic Seminars is prepared to meet your professional needs.
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