Oral Health Group

University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry, Discipline of Orthodontics

September 1, 2007
by Dr. Jim Posluns

The University of Toronto is home to the largest facility of dentistry in Canada. Graduate programs exist in all fields of dentistry, including orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral radiology, oral pathology, dental public health oral and maxillofacial surgery and children’s dentistry. Residents, as well as patients, benefit from having all of these areas of specialty so close at hand. Interdisciplinary care is not a rarity at the University of Toronto, it is the norm.

Graduate and post graduate programs in orthodontics were established at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto in 1945. Traditionally, programs included a Diploma in Orthodontics qualifying for specialty, a three-year Master of Science degree, including specialty in orthodontics, or a five year Doctorate degree (combined clinical-research) including specialty in orthodontics. The Diploma program was eliminated in 1999. The emergence of the M.Sc program as the mainstay of orthodontic education at the University of Toronto not only allowed for the continuation of the highly recognized clinical program of the past, but also provided the opportunity for students to complete an in-depth Master of Science thesis governed by the School of Graduate Studies. The summer of 2000 saw a fully integrated three year timetable introduced to improve the balance between didactic principles, clinical treatment, and research including the foundations of scientific methodology. Five classes have graduated under the new academic structure with gratifying results. All residents successfully have defended their respective theses within the term of the program, all have completed at least 90-95% of their assigned clinical cases and all have met the requirements for Fellowship in the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. Those residents who opted to write Part II of the American Board of Orthodontics exam did so without complication.


Entrance into the graduate program is competitive. The University of Toronto is one of four English speaking programs in Canada. The ratio of qualified applicants to resident position is approximately 15 to one. While University of Toronto dental graduates comprises a sizable proportion of those admitted to the program, successful applications have come from various regions of Canada and the United States, as well as Europe, Latin America, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Numerous residents have been honored with recognition by the American Association of Orthodontics as well as within the University of Toronto at its annual research day competition. Historically, research within the department analyzed the principles of growth and development and as is well documented within the orthodontic literature. Recent theses have been based in biomechanics, radiology, genetics education and quality of life studies. Numerous publications have been generated from the work done at the University of Toronto in a variety of peer-reviewed orthodontic and general science publications.

The program is 36 months in length, beginning the first of July. Residents complete a thorough pre-clinical technique course during the summer months, while at the same time, collecting and analyzing orthodontic records for their approximately 60 assigned cases. Clinical practice begins in September, along with didactic courses in growth and development, statistics, oral physiology, anatomy and occlusion.

One week out of every month is a dedicated research week where residents are given the opportunity to develop their research projects over the three years. Clinics close the end of June, allowing for additional time to gather and analyze research data. Time is also allotted throughout the year for various orthodontic meetings, speakers and continuing education seminars.

Clinical sessions occur on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule, under the watchful eye of numerous full and part-time staff. A variety of appliances and bracket systems are utilized providing for a broad clinical experience subscribing to no one particular treatment philosophy by picking and choosing from the strength’s of each system. Self-ligating bracket systems and functional appliance therapy have traditionally been promoted at the University of Toronto. Clinics are dedicated to early treatment, traditional adolescent therapy, adult orthodontics and a comprehensive approach to orthognathic surgical cases in close cooperation with the oral and maxillofacial surgery residents. Many of the clinics also incorporate a seminar series designed to further the residents’ knowledge in a particular are of orthodontics.

Further benefit is gained from a close affiliation with the Hospital for Sick Children, especially in the management of complex cases. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is the major centre in Canada for the treatment of patients with severe dentofacial deformities, craniofacial anomalies and cleft lip and palate. Residents are required to complete a clinical rotation within the hospital as part of their M.Sc program and many have been inspired to complete an additional year following graduation as a clinical fellow. In addition, the Hospital for Sick Children has an extensive data base that numerous residents have drawn upon in the completion of their research projects.

Past department heads include Egil Harvold, Robert Moyers, Donald Woodside, and Emile Rossouw. Current Department Chair Bryan Tompson is cross-appointed as Head of the Department of Orthodontics at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Tompson is assisted by William Wilson, the graduate clinic director. Siew-Ging Gong and Sunjay Suri joined the department in 2006 as full time faculty, offering valuable experience and insight into the development and completion of comprehensive research projects. Undergraduate and additional graduate responsibilities are overseen by other part time faculty including John Daskalogiannakis, Angelos Metaxas and Jim Posluns. In a dental school that numbers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students at any one time, both the full and part time staff is constantly on the move!

Graduates of the University of Toronto are welcomed as members of the Orthodontic Alumni Association, the largest university dental specialty association in Canada. Founded in 1998 by Dr. Randy Lang and Dr. Angelos Metaxas, the association features informal gatherings at the AAO and CAO annual sessions, an annual scientific meeting featuring one of the professions most sought after speakers and a yearly newsletter of photographs and updates. Numerous alumni have also been instrumental in organized dentistry at both the provincial and national level, as well as within the licensing body for the dental profession in Ontario.

The future of the Discipline of Orthodontics is strong at the University of Toronto. A new dental faculty building is anticipated for early in the next decade. Plans are already underway for a revised graduate orthodontic clinic. Buoyed by strength of the Alumni Association, the University of Toronto will continue to be the institution for orthodontic excellence in Canada for years to come.

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