Sir, orthodontics is the conventional modality for correcting crooked teeth around the world, but I would like to draw your readers' attention to a Russian variation, invented by the Soviets in the 1980s: 'orthodontiya'. This method was not able to develop much because of the economic collapse of the USSR but after the fall of the Iron Curtain, orthodontiya was soon turned into the chaotic process of selling orthodontic appliances directly to the public.

All the appliances appeared to be wonderful for both doctors and patients, and 'treatment' was often started without any diagnostics and almost always with significant legal violations. Even though many post-Soviet doctors started to proclaim themselves professors and PhDs in orthodontiya, the blunt truth was that none of them had even graduated from a full-time postgraduate programme in orthodontics. Nevertheless, since the late 1990s, post-Soviet 'orthodontic pioneers' started to establish their own postgraduate programmes, which up to the present day do not meet the requirements for postgraduate education by the World Federation of Orthodontists, the most credible international orthodontic organisation. Furthermore, there are no research data to suggest that brave new orthodontiya is as effective as conventional orthodontics.

Unfortunately, if a country does not have a credible specialty for carrying out orthodontic treatment, patients are destined not to receive the level of treatment they deserve. They require reliable orthodontists. Today we have limited ways to assess the skills of an orthodontist – we have to look at the results that are achieved. An orthodontic board is an organisation that assesses the skills of an orthodontist by scrutinising the diagnostic records, treatment plans and results of treatment; several of these have been established by experienced orthodontists around the world. Fortunately, the European Board of Orthodontists provides its services to all European orthodontists including Russians, thus providing an opportunity for an orthodontist to achieve Board Certification. I encourage every dentist who is referring patients to Russia to inform them about this issue. By choosing a board-certified orthodontist a patient can be reassured that treatment will be done by an experienced specialist in accordance with contemporary internationally-approved protocols.