I had a unique experience this summer. In addition to presenting more than 50 continuing-education courses a year to dentists, I also take many continuing-education classes myself. I, like many of you, are very selective in the CE courses I take. I look for courses that are both educational and clinically relevant, and I want to be able to start using whatever I learned my first day back in the office. I always try to plan the seminars I present the same way. I give a lot of practical, relevant information, mix in a little (a lot of) humor, and away we go!
This summer, I finally decided to take the Invisalign certification course. Now, let me tell you what my experience has been with orthodontics since I started practicing dentistry 24 years ago. It has been a big zero, zilch, nothing - I just am not interested in doing it myself! If a tooth was a little crooked, I would make an instant referral to an orthodontist or I would try to do some veneers to make them look straight.
So why did I finally decide to take the Invisalign certification course? Because patients started asking me about Invisalign! Many patients and friends were using Invisalign successfully, and I’ve always been a big believer in giving patients what they want.
When I sat down at the table at the Invisalign certification course, I found a huge syllabus in front of me which we were going to cover in a day and a half. Like most dentists, I just felt that I could read through the syllabus and have an idea of what to do. Boy, was I wrong! As I sat through the course - which is part lecture and a lot of hands on training - I was amazed at how far orthodontics has come. This was a 22nd Century practice and a prime example of a term I love to use - “a new line extension for the office.” This was something new that I could offer to my existing patient base - a service they had been asking about for a long time.
Now comes the big question - how do you integrate this into your office? Well, first off, if you are a general practitioner, the best way is to start with the easy cases - generally mildly crooked, lower anterior teeth. For patients who have had a little bit of relapse from previous orthodontics - or who have never had ortho, but want to just tweak some teeth so they will be straight - Invisalign is a perfect solution.
Many resources are available at Invisalign to help you. They have inside and outside consultants who can hold your hand each part of the way if you are a novice at this. These easy cases - such as the one I just described - can take as little as six months with Invisalign, with appointments approximately every six to eight weeks with the patient to deliver new Invisalign trays.
If you are providing esthetic treatment in your office, then Invisalign is a must for your practice. First of all, it lets patients know that you are a state-of-the-art dentist. People love the concept of invisible braces with the ease of use and the ability to keep their oral hygiene impeccable. There are many instances where you may have wanted to close some spaces or to better position teeth for final restorations of veneers, crowns, bridges, and implants. It may not be an immediate extreme makeover, but it is a welcome addition to the full range of esthetic services which most dental offices are trying to offer.
Be sure to take your staff with you to the Invisalign seminar, since just about all skills needed are easily delegated to trained dental staff. One of the reasons overhead is significantly lower in orthodontists’ offices is because they can delegate so much of what they do. As a matter of fact, be sure to have your orthodontist attend the Invisalign certification course as well. A smart orthodontist will realize the more you - the general dentist - know about ortho, the better your referrals will be.
Invisalign is a wonderful orthodontic technique, essential for general dentists to understand and offer in their practice. Orthodontics is definitely a growth industry and should be a part of your office. You will be able to offer more options to patients, give them more of what they want, while building your practice.
Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988. For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.