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What the Heck is Invisalign Doing to Dentists?

June 24th, 2009 · 5 Comments

checkup1What you already know…
Invisalign by Align Technologies, Inc. is a system of clear, custom, acrylic aligners that incorporates 3D treatment planning for orthodontic therapy. Invisalign was approved by the FDA in 1998. Adult patients and teens who want straighter teeth without the hassle and appearance of metal braces often prefer Invisalign. In addition to being inconspicuous, the clear aligners are removable, and treatment is usually shorter than with traditional orthodontics.

The issue at hand…
On June 1, 2009, Align Technology, Inc. announced Invisalign® Proficiency Program. This new training standard is mandatory for dentists who offer Invisalign. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

“Effective June 1, the Invisalign product proficiency program requires every Invisalign provider in North America to start 10 Invisalign cases and complete at least 10 Invisalign-specific continuing education (CE) credits each calendar year to maintain active provider status. Doctors who do not meet the annual case start and CE requirements by the end of each calendar year, starting with December 31, 2009, will be able to continue treating any cases in-progress, but they will not be eligible to submit new Invisalign cases or to use Invisalign marketing resources. Doctors can reactivate their provider status by retaking Invisalign Clear Essentials I training and meeting the proficiency requirements during the new calendar year.”

Dan Ellis, VP of North American Sales, says that a dentist’s Invisalign treatment proficiency is a reflection of case experience. The “Proficiency Pathway” program is a way to ensure that six milestones set by Align Technologies are met by Invisalign dentists.

How this affects you…
Grumbling has ensued. Many dentists want to choose the CE courses they take each year instead of having a product manufacturer dictate them. Is Align just trying to increase profits at by forcing current customers (dentists) into the training program? With the recent legal issues between ClearCorrect™ and Invisalign®, it’s no secret that Invisalign has competition. Some dentists are turning to competing products to continue to offer clear braces for patients. On the flip side, Invisalign’s marketing is great. For those dentists who comply with the new Proficiency Program, there could be marketing benefits. Invisalign products should appear more exclusive and could gain a reputation as the solution of choice for high-income, image-conscious consumers who can afford to pay for cosmetic dentistry.

A little optimism…
The June 2 press release from Align states that the company does not expect the Proficiency Program to impact financial results for 2009.

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Tags: Continuing Education

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 patricia stifter // Jun 25, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    So maybe I’m in the minority. But I feel that as a general dentist, a mandatory case number/year is unreasonable and without basis. I don’t believe that proficiency is contingent upon number of cases treated. How are they able to determine that quantity is necessarily a measure of quality control? Is this about invisalign trying to increase its revenues by requiring minimum number of cases? Or is it b/c invisalign really just wants to work w/ \super-users\? Or perhaps they really are only interested in orthodontists providing invisalign. I hope other providers of dental resources/materials don’t try to require that I do a minimum number of cases/year or buy a certain amount of products/year. As a new invisalign provider who considers invisalign a tool in my treatment planning options for patients, I’m totally disgusted and disappointed with Align technology.

  • 2 Dental Thornhill // Jun 27, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I thinks its great to ensure that patients get the best treatment, however the minimum requirements may be hard to acheive for the newly certified provider.

  • 3 Richmond Hill Dentist // Jun 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Invisalign is taking a big gamble on this. They are risking losing a large market share to a new competitor, Clear correct.

  • 4 Unhappy Dentist // Jul 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I took one of the first courses offered by Invisalign,and the advanced course as well. My staff was trained and 3 or 4 days were lost in production. At the time of my investment there was no requirement of 10 cases per year. If they want to require this for new providers, fine. Otherwise they can reimburse me for my time and expenses, if they refuse to take my cases. I think dentists should get a class action lawsuit against them.

  • 5 Dr Stutman // Jun 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    ClearCorrect is a less expensive, simpler clear aligner therapy.
    There is no need to use Invisalign when there is ClearCorrect.