One of the topics that I get more questions about than any other on this blog is finding an Invisalign dentist or orthodontist. My own search for an Invisalign dentist or orthodontist took visits to several providers before I was able to find someone that I liked that was willing and able to treat me.
One of the things that surprises me the most when I am asked this is that many people don’t understand the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist. The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to doctors. A dentist is the equivalent of a GP. They do general dentistry; sometimes this includes some orthodontics. In many countries they aren’t allowed to call themselves orthodontists but get around this by using the word “orthodontics” or similar in their advertising. By comparison an orthodontist is like a specialist doctor such as a cardiologist, except that they specialise in the movement of teeth. In most countries orthodontists have done substantial additional study at university (often several years) and generally do nothing but orthodontic work in their practices.
Invisalign is available through both dentists and orthodontists. Rather than having substantial orthodontic training, Invisalign providers are required to do an Invisalign course before they can offer Invisalign. It had never occurred to me to wonder exactly how extensive or otherwise this Invisalign training was.
Recently however, I was having a quick google to find some piece of Invisalign information or another and came across the following post from a dentist who is no longer offering Invisalign. To be honest, it terrified me.
As an avid reader of Invisalign forums I had known that Align (the makers of Invisalign) had been tightening up their systems to ensure that only more experienced providers of Invisalign kept offering it, but frankly what I read on the dentists blog terrified me.
For instance her assertion that she took a two day course to qualify in Invisalign and that:
“I graduated Temple dental in 2001 with little clue how to successfully and orthodontically move a tooth. Like most clinicians, I learned little about orthodontics in dental school. Sure I bent some wires, took a gazillion alginates, uprighted some molars, and occasionally made an active or passive appliance. Requirements, however, were minimal and Ortho at Temple was always the ‘easy A.’”
must surely be a worry for people that are considering Invisalign through a general dentist.
Similarly I don’t know whether there is any truth in her statement:
“Invisalign approved nearly any case you sent. Even with unpredictable movements like extrusions, intrusions, rotations and difficult cases like open bites and cross-bites, Invisalign provided a successful clincheck. This of course was nonsense and after a few poor results, I quickly learned Invisalign’s limitations.”
but it certainly makes me glad that Align are tightening their policies. (incidentally, I wonder whether this blanket approval theory is still true; my orthodontist who is VERY experienced tells me that he gets cases refused regularly that he thinks he could treat)
All in all I think anyone who is interested in Invisalign should read this dentists post to make sure that they ask the right questions before choosing their provider.
As someone with a very complex case my preference for me is an orthodontist to do my treatment. However, I know that many, many people have had dentists do their Invisalign and they have done a fantastic job. The key to it seems to be that you absolutely have to ensure that your provider has experience of using Invisalign and lots of it and you should keep this foremost in your mind when choosing an Invisaling dentist or orthodontist. Fortunately, the Invisalign website ranks providers according to the number of cases they have undertaken recently. Still, it never hurts to ask the question yourself. I saw one provider who had not finished a single Invisalign case but was happy to take on my very complex issue. I would also point out that I think it is important to ask not only how many cases have been treated but also whether any cases similar to yours have been completed and how successful the results were. Ask to see before and after pictures where possible as these will tell you whether you would have been happy with the treatment.
Also, I think when deciding who to go with that it’s important to not just base your decision on what Invisalign costs from each provider. Certainly, if you have a very straightforward simple orthodontic issue you will probably find that you get a great result whoever does your treatment. If however, you have anything more complex you really need to consider who will be the best person to treat you. I know that many patients ring around hoping to get the best price- who doesn’t want to pay as little as possible? In more complex cases though, I think it is also vital that you take into account whether the cheapest provider is actually the best one for you in experience terms. Of course, that isn’t to say that more expensive means more experience- I often found the reverse to be true. Rather I just mean that experience should be just as, if not more, important than price in complex cases.