History of the orthodontic societies

British Society for the Study of Orthodontics

On 21st October 1907 George Northcroft hosted a gathering attended by 15 of his colleagues to discuss establishing a society for the promotion of orthodontics. This became the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics (BSSO). The inaugural meeting was held on 5th December 1907 where J.H. Badcock was elected president. The purpose of the society was to discuss cases and techniques and to promote the practice of orthodontics.

Orthodontic Societies

The BSSO saw their purpose as solely for the promotion of orthodontics and refused to become involved in political issues. This created a need for representation, especially following the establishment of the NHS in 1948 and the increasing demand for orthodontic treatment.
This led to the formation of four other orthodontic societies representing different elements of the profession; the British Association of Orthodontists (BAO), the Community Orthodontists Group of the BAO (ComOG), Association of University Teachers of Orthodontists (AUTO) and the Consultants Orthodontists Group (COG).



In 1990 the BAO and BSSO set up a Unification Working Party. Initially talks were between the BAO and BSSO but all the orthodontic societies became involved.
Negotiations on the new society took 3 years and proposals were not accepted until September 1993. The agreed constitution was put to a postal ballot of all the orthodontic society members. Acceptance ranged from 92-100%.

British Orthodontic Society

The BOS originally comprised of 6 groups representing the different areas of employment of orthodontists. All the groups were represented on the Council along with representatives from the GDSC, the SAC and the Royal Surgical Colleges. The Council was assisted by several committees. The First full meeting of the BOS Council was held at the British Orthodontic Conference in Harrogate on 2nd October 1994. The BOS was quickly accepted by all the professional bodies and the members.
The Society was initially based at the Eastman Dental Hospital. In 2006 it moved to its current home in Bridewell Place in the City of London. In the same year it underwent its first restructure, followed by a second in 2013 to better reflect the society's charitable aims and objectives.

Working Together

Many orthodontists were becoming overburdened by belonging to more than one of the five available orthodontic societies. In addition, due to an increase in competition for speakers, the standard of the meetings was falling. In 1975 it was questioned whether so many societies was necessary and a discussion paper was presented to the BSSO. The societies were beginning to be required to work together in regards to their representations to external bodies and in policy making. In 1977 all 5 societies joined to form the British Orthodontic Standards Working Party and again in 1986 when they formed the Joint Response Committee  to respond to the Report of the Schanschieff Committee into Unnecessary Dental Treatment. In 1986 the BAO and BSSO held their first combined British Orthodontic Conference in Bournemouth. 

Further information about the history of the orthodontic societies can be found in the History of the British Orthodontic Societies 1907-1994, published in 2002 by the BOS.