Pearls for Your Practice: Align Oral Health Suite

Jan. 10, 2024
Learn about Align's new feature that enables dental professionals to take their patients on a journey of exploration into their oral health.

Recently, Align Technology debuted a new feature that brought clarity and light to what I feel is the most important feature of an iTero: patient education.

We all know that iTero is great for restorative cases and Invisalign workflows, but for me its true value is in getting patients to say yes to treatment. Using the iTero in the hygiene room is far more valuable to your practice than anything else it does, and the Align Oral Health Suite makes that even more valuable and easier. It is an application on iTero 5D Plus scanners that helps you take your patients on a journey of exploration into their oral health.

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It starts with a basic scan on the iTero 5D Plus. Once the scan is finished and submitted, the option to open the Align Oral Health Suite becomes active. Clicking on that button opens an application that puts the patient’s digital scan in the center of five different views that will facilitate treatment discussion with the patient. The first view is called “tooth health.” This launches a view of the patient’s scan data that looks at things like caries, broken teeth, failing old restorations, and more.

Using the color scan view, monochrome scan view, intraoral camera view, and the NiRi (near infrared imaging) caries detection, I usually walk the patient through their dentition, looking for issues starting on the upper and then down to the lower.

The next view is called “gum health.” This launches a side-by-side view that in monochrome mode shows the patient areas of gingival recession and abfraction lesions. Next is the “bite” view; it shows patients an occluded model with their Occlusogram, which shows where and how hard teeth contact.

Next is “alignment”; this shows a side-by-side view that best illustrates any crowding or spacing issues. This is the common area I would highlight with Invisalign Outcome Simulator Pro to show patients what Invisalign can do for them. Previously, you’d have to exit the scan view to run a simulation. In Align Oral Health Suite, you can run the simulation from within the Suite, so you can quickly and easily show the patient the benefits of clear aligner therapy.

This is both intuitive and impressive for the patient. The same is true of TimeLapse, which has been an iTero feature for several generations. No longer will you need to exit the scan and then run the TimeLapse—now you can show patients what has changed in their dentition from directly in the Align Oral Health Suite. Fewer clicks, more intuitive, and more inspiring to patients.

The newest feature added to the Align Oral Health Suite is the comparison tool. TimeLapse combines models together and uses color to show differences. The comparison tool puts two scans from two different days on the same screen next to each other to show differences. This is nice for ortho cases or for patients with wear or recession; showing them what has changed over time is vital for getting them to accept treatment.

The last area of the Align Oral Health Suite is the explorer view. You can use this to show the patient anything you want quickly and easily—sort of a dealer’s choice.

We’ve been using iTero with my patients at their exams for years, and it immediately increased production and collections. Patients can’t say yes to what they don’t see and understand, and there is no better tool to change that than the iTero 5D plus with Align Oral Health Suite. This is a game-winning grand slam in extra innings in the World Series!

Editor's note: This article appeared in the January 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, is a graduate and former faculty member of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry. Author of Dental Economics’ Pearls for Your Practice column, Dr. Austin lectures nationally on products, dental technology, online reputation management, and social media. He maintains a full-time restorative dentistry private practice in San Antonio, Texas. You may contact Dr. Austin at [email protected].