MASTER CLINICIAN vs. self-ligation, Tweed vs. Bioprogressive, and so on), and I realized early in my

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  • 273VOLUME LIII NUMBER 5 © 2019 JCO, Inc.


    Associate Editor Peter Sinclair conceived this department devoted to recognizing the Master Clinicians who have made the orthodontic specialty what it is today. Every few months, Dr. Sinclair will delve into the career story and treatment principles of one of these seminal figures. We welcome your nominees for future Master Clinicians.

    Dr. Sondhi is a former Professor, Department of Orthodontics and Oral Facial Genetics, Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianap- olis, and has been in the private practice of orthodontics in Indianap- olis for 42 years. He continues to lecture nationally and internationally. Contact Dr. Sondhi at 620 Mayfair Lane, Carmel, IN 46032; e-mail: Dr. Sinclair is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics and a Clinical Professor, Advanced Orthodontic Program, Division of Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; e-mail:

    Dr. SinclairDr. Sondhi

    orthodontists—Dr. Anoop Sondhi— in another of his Master Clinician series of interviews. I met Dr. Sondhi early in my career (which was also early in his career). It was obvious to me from the start that he was a dynamic and creative orthodontist, bound for professional greatness and fame. Dr. Sondhi has many orthodontic innovations to his cred- it, innovations from which we all benefit. He approaches everything he does with vigor, hard work, and enthusiasm. In fact, perhaps the greatest thing I have learned from him over the years is to always maintain a positive attitude and to accept nothing short of excellence in all aspects of life. He is one of the happiest people I have ever met, and the result of this attitude has been his incredible success in all areas of his life.

    As we go through our profes-sional careers, we all come across various practitioners whom we enjoy and benefit from knowing. This month, Dr. Peter Sin- clair introduces us to one of those

    Anoop Sondhi, DDS, MS

    @2019 JCO, Inc. May not be distributed without permission.

  • 274 JCO/MAY 2019


    I would be remiss if I did not mention that Dr. Sondhi and I share a common passion other than orthodontics: private aviation (Fig. 1). While I enjoy flying small private aircraft and let it go at that, he approaches flying with the same vigor he applies to everything else. He is a terrific pilot, and I believe he holds practically every certification in aviation. I am truly envious of his accomplish- ments in both orthodontics and aviation. I am sure that you will enjoy—and benefit from—reading this interview. RGK

    DR. SINCLAIR Who were your mentors?

    DR. SONDHI We all tend to experience small and cumulative influences from many of the teachers we encounter throughout our professional schooling. The first one who had a profound impact on me as an orthodontist was Dr. Tom Graber. He was a leg- end in orthodontics by the time I started my gradu- ate education at the University of Illinois, of course,

    and he chaired the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Chicago. I had read his textbooks1 and felt all the excitement of a star-struck teenager when I first met him. It did not take long to realize his brilliance as an orthodontist, as a teacher, and as an author. His grasp of the orthodontic literature and vast reservoir of knowledge were evident to anyone who had even a brief conversation with him. More important, he was generous with his time and even more generous with his encouragement of young orthodontists. I was lucky that he noticed some of my early work when I made my first pre- sentation at the AAO conference in 1992, and he subsequently recommended me as a speaker at a number of national and international meetings.

    What especially captivated me—both when I met him as an orthodontic resident and subse- quently as a young orthodontist who had an inter- est in doing research, publishing articles, and pre- senting seminars at national and international meetings—was his refusal to fall into any ortho- dontic “camp.” It is my opinion that such camps frequently stifle independent thought, and they definitely oppose anything that may challenge their own cherished philosophies and beliefs. Whether the subject involved TMJ treatment, fixed appliance mechanics, or interceptive treatment (some of the issues that were controversial then and continue to be controversial now!), I found Dr. Gra- ber to be a true agnostic. He was interested in the science and the evidence, and he struck me as be- ing a totally independent thinker. Although Dr. Graber had encouraged me when I was a young professor at Indiana University, he continued to encourage me after I left my faculty position and went into private practice. In fact, once when he was a scheduled speaker for the Great Lakes As- sociation of Orthodontists meeting in Indianapolis, he became quite ill and was unable to travel. He mailed me all his slides (this was before the days of PowerPoint) and the text of his entire lecture, and he instructed me to deliver it for him! I was honored that he trusted me with his material.

    The other gentleman I would definitely men- tion is Dr. Robert M. Ricketts. He was also a legend in the profession of orthodontics,2,3 and I had the good fortune to learn from him, since we were both

    Fig. 1 Dr. Sondhi in captain’s seat of his Cessna Cita- tion jet.



    DR. SONDHI There are a number of orthodontic philosophies (extraction vs. nonextraction, ligation vs. self-ligation, Tweed vs. Bioprogressive, and so on), and I realized early in my education that such philosophies tended to restrict my intellectual de- velopment as an orthodontist. They are simply too doctrinaire, and their approach is entirely precep- torial. There seems to be too much emphasis on “tooth details” and not enough on a comprehensive understanding that we are doctors at the chairside of our patients—and it is the patients we are treat- ing, not just their teeth. Now, that does not mean that orthodontic biomechanics are not important or that those details are not important. Quite the contrary. I am very aware of the level of skill that it takes to finish an orthodontic case properly, as well as the skill that it takes to achieve accurate appliance placement, archwire bending, and prop- er detailing. It’s just that my philosophical approach starts from a much more comprehensive level.

    Let me give you a simple example: I had a patient who came in because she had noticed a progressive opening of her bite over a period of two to three years (Fig. 2). She had previously had orthodontic treatment. There were wear facets not- ed on the canines, so it was evident that these teeth had been in contact at some point. The patient was

    alumni of the University of Illinois. Dr. Ricketts proved to be one of the most innovative thinkers of his generation, and it was partly because of his work that I developed an interest in the management of TMJ disorders. He was kind enough to encourage me as a young researcher, and I had the good for- tune to lecture on the same program with him a few times during the 1980s. I believe we are all the ben- eficiaries of some of the innovations he introduced into the science behind orthodontic treatment.

    Lastly, I must mention that I have been men- tored in one form or another by a number of the colleagues whom I have had a chance to practice with over the years. I am afraid to give out individ- ual names because I am equally afraid that I am going to leave somebody out, but they know who they are. Some of the pediatric dentists, restorative dentists, periodontists, oral surgeons, and endodon- tists in our community whom I have had the priv- ilege of working with have been exemplary in their work and in their commitment to patient care. I don’t believe that my practice would have been quite as successful had I not had the opportunity to work with these incredibly talented clinicians.

    DR. SINCLAIR What is your orthodontic philos- ophy, and how does it guide you?

    Fig. 2 Case 1. 48-year-old female patient with significant open bite before treatment. Note wear facets on canines.

  • 276 JCO/MAY 2019


    48 years old, and I thought it necessary to under- stand why her occlusion had changed over a rela- tively short period of time at such an age. I asked to do a diagnostic work-up, and an assessment of the cephalometric x-ray showed a definite expan- sive lesion along the posterior aspect of the hy- pophyseal fossa (Fig. 3). I informed the patient that while I would be happy to correct her malocclusion later, she had other, more pressing issues that de- manded our attention. A quick consultation with an endocrinologist and a neurosurgeon confirmed the diagnosis of a pituitary adenoma, which of course explained the secondary changes in the mandible. The lesion had been detected in time, and the neurosurgeon specifically commented that he was grateful to be able to remove the tumor before it became inoperable.

    The point is, we should remember that we are doctors entrusted with the patient’s treatment and well-being, and not just “tooth movers.” It frightens me to think about the number of doctors who are now willing to treat supposedly “simple” aligner cases without a proper work-up or radiographic analysis. That concern has increased exponential- ly with the recent advent o