Tech Tip: 5 midcourse correction myths

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about refinements & midcourse corrections. Here are some of the most common misunderstandings:

Myth #1: You can get unlimited midcourse corrections & refinements for free.

False. It is true that we don't charge a fee for refinements or midcourse corrections. However, you're still only entitled to receive the number of phases included with your case (3 for Limited, 8 for Full). If you use more than that, you'll have to pay for the extra phases. You're also responsible for the cost of shipping new impressions to us.

Myth #2: You should request a midcourse correction every time an aligner doesn't fit.

False. Most of the time, if the teeth aren't on track, it's because the patient hasn't been wearing the aligners regularly. The aligners really need to be worn 22 hours a day, every day, for best results. If your patient isn't doing that, then requesting a midcourse correction is a complete waste of time. 

Remember what a midcourse correction is: we simply make a new phase starting from the current position of the patient's teeth. You can accomplish the same thing without wasting a phase by simply backtracking to the last step that fit and reinforcing the wear schedule. For extra strength, you can make fresh aligners using the included dental models. Of course, use your professional judgement, too. If there's a difficult extrusion or intrusion that's not happening, a bracket & auxiliary technique will often be more effective than a midcourse correction.

Myth #3: You'll get a Phase Zero and treatment setup after a midcourse correction.

False. As the name implies, Phase Zero is only sent at the beginning of treatment. A midcourse correction does not change the ultimate goal for the case, so we don't generate a new setup for your approval.

Myth #4: Your patient should stop wearing aligners while waiting for a midcourse correction.

Myth #5: Your patient should keep advancing to new steps while waiting for a midcourse correction.

False and false. When you submit a midcourse correction form, we'll ask "Which steps currently fit your patient's teeth best?" Those are the aligners your patient should keep wearing to retain the position of their teeth. When you get the revised phase, give the first included step to your patient and discard any unused steps from the previous phase.

As always, if you have any questions, just ask your account rep.

Small Business Today radio interview

Our CEO, Jarrett Pumphrey, and Anthony Penketh (our Chief Marketing Officer) were interviewed yesterday by John Cruise for the Small Business Today radio show.

It was a great interview, and a lot of fun. If you'd like to learn a little more about us, check it out:

Invisalign hopes third time’s the charm at beating ClearCorrect in the courts rather than the free market

ClearCorrect, LLC, a manufacturer of clear aligners, received notice that Align Technology, Inc., (the maker of Invisalign®) has filed another round of lawsuits alleging patent infringement, this time in two complaints to the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The first complaint alleges ClearCorrect is infringing seven patents related to methods of planning and implementing orthodontic treatment with aligners. Several of the patents-in-issue overlap patents from Align's federal suit against ClearCorrect filed just last year. Though filing complaints with the ITC is a clear favorite from Align's "how to beat your competition" playbook, ClearCorrect remains unfazed.

"We're certain we don't infringe any valid patents," said Jarrett Pumphrey, ClearCorrect CEO. "It doesn't matter how many times they sue us or where they sue us -- that won't change. The only thing this changes is who we'll be proving that to."

In fact, according to ClearCorrect's legal counsel, Mike Myers, ClearCorrect welcomes the ITC action, "The ITC process is generally faster, so ClearCorrect can makes its case sooner rather than later. ClearCorrect has always maintained that orthodontists taught Align how to straighten teeth, not the other way around. In its first two cases, Align was never able to show that ClearCorrect does anything other than practice the vast prior art developed by orthodontists over the last 70 years, which ClearCorrect is free to do. The new filings should allow ClearCorrect to promptly demonstrate the scope of its work and thereby continue to focus on servicing its customers distraction-free."

The second complaint seeks enforcement of a Consent Order granted in 2006 from an ITC action between Align and OrthoClear. Though ClearCorrect is not OrthoClear, Align is apparently asking the ITC to recognize them as the same company and enforce a Consent Order that would otherwise not apply.

Per Align, certain employees of ClearCorrect Pakistan (Private) Ltd., a company started in Lahore, Pakistan, to support the domestic and international growth of ClearCorrect, are in violation of the Consent Order. Align contends that those employees previously worked for OrthoClear and are now engaging in alleged "infringing activities." The employees of ClearCorrect Pakistan use the process developed in the US by ClearCorrect, which does not infringe any of Align's valid patents. This is simply another way Align is attempting to use the courts to scare doctors and disrupt fair and legitimate competition.

"Align has been trying to convince doctors that we're OrthoClear for years. This is just more of the same," said Pumphrey. "The truth is, as we've planned and positioned for international growth, we found a motivated and passionate workforce in Pakistan to support it -- just like Align did, once upon a time. But that doesn't make us OrthoClear or Align. We're ClearCorrect."

Phase Out update

Last week, we hit a milestone in our Phase Out project. Since the beginning of the year, we've now donated over 1,000 leftover phases to charity: water. Each phase can bring clean, safe drinking water to one person in a developing country, so that's over 1,000 people whose lives will be improved thanks to your help.

It takes about 18 months to complete a water project, but we'll keep you updated as we go along. Don't forget, you can track how many leftover phases you've contributed on ClearComm, and you can also donate funds directly if you choose.

Tech tip: New & improved treatment plans

In the next couple of weeks, we’re rolling out brand-new, totally redesigned treatment plans. You’re going to love this. The new paperwork adds a ton of new useful information, and really clarifies how phases work. We’ve also managed to cut it down from five pages to a single, Earth-friendly sheet of paper.

Treatment plans: funky & clunky vs. lean & green

Get comfortable, because this tech tip is probably going to be our longest one yet, and you’re going to want to know this stuff.

We’ll start at the top of the treatment plan and work our way down. (Download a sample treatment plan here if you want to follow along.)

Case information

Patient name

Nothing too surprising here. A big readable patient name is followed by the case number, the prescribing doctor, and the date that the current phase was shipped.

(By the way, if your email client usually blocks images, you’ll want to make sure to load them now. Things are about to get very visual.)

Phase graph

Phase graph

The phase graph at the top of each treatment plan gives you a quick overview of the entire case: past, present, and future.

As you know, we make our aligners one phase at a time. A standard phase includes four sets of aligners, and lasts 12 weeks. Each phase is represented as a box on this graph, segmented into four steps. (Phase Zero and the retainer are narrower because they only include one set of aligners.)

Let’s take a closer look at each section of the graph:

Past phases

Past phases

Phases that you’ve already received are represented as gray boxes on the graph.

In this example, a note under phase 3 indicates that it was shipped as a midcourse correction. Don’t worry about the little symbols in phase 1 just yet; we’ll talk about those later.

Current phase

Current phase

The current phase (the one sent with the treatment plan) is filled in green. The phase number above it is big, bold, and also green. In this example, the patient is about to start phase 5, which is also a midcourse correction.

I bet you really want to know about the triangles, square, and X on the first & third step. Just hang tight—it’ll all be clear soon.

Planned phases

Planned phases

The right side of the graph offers a glimpse into the future. Planned phases are represented as green outlines. Here we can see that the final planned phase is phase 6. It’s scheduled to ship around March 28, 2012*, followed by final retainers whenever the doctor requests them (you do request final retainers, don’t you?).

*That asterisk after the shipping date is important. Estimated ship dates are just that—estimates. They change all the time. You really want to wait to schedule appointments until you get an email notifying you that the aligners have shipped. If a patient shows up before the aligners do, no one is happy.

Also remember that this is an estimate of the ship date, not the delivery date.Depending on where you are, UPS Ground delivery can take up to 5 business days. Updated shipping date estimates and tracking numbers are available on ClearComm. Don’t hesitate to use them.

Extra phases

Extra phases

Here’s something you’ve never been able to see before: extra phases. They’re represented by light gray outlines on the graph.

As you know, a certain number of phases are included with each case (3 for Limited, 8 for Full). If a Full case has fewer than 8 phases scheduled, some unused phases are left over. Those extra phases can be used for replacements, midcourse corrections, or refinements. If some phases are still left over when you request the final retainer, they’re donated to the Phase Out program.

These new graphs should help you understand your options. For instance, if you request a midcourse correction, the treatment may use more phases than originally planned. That’s no problem if you have enough unused phases to cover the difference, but if you don’t, you’ll need to pay for the extra phases.

If you request a replacement aligner instead of making one in your office, it will “break” one of your extra phases so it can only be used to make replacements. The shaded boxin the darker gray replacement phase above represents one replacement. The note above the shaded step indicates that it was used to replace step 2A.

Phase-based numbering

Wait a minute. Step 2A?

That’s right, we’re renumbering the aligners to make it more clear which phase they belong to. Instead of steps 13, 14, 15, and 16, you’ll get 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D.

No more mental calculations; you’ll always dispense A & B at the first appointment, and C & D at the second appointment—even after a midcourse correction.

Appointment instructions

Okay, we’re nearing the home stretch, folks. Remember those funny little symbols on the phase graph? Behold! All will be revealed.

First appointment

The sheet includes separate instructions for the first and second appointment of each phase. You’ll notice that each type of procedure is accompanied by a unique symbol:

  • Compliance Checkpoint A green teardrop represents Compliance Checkpoints.
    • When you see these, check for contact between the teeth with dental floss. If they’re not touching, your patient probably hasn’t been wearing their aligners 22 hours a day, and they might not be ready for the next step.
  • 0.2 mm IPR A red triangle represents IPR.
  • Add engager A blue square represents adding an engager
  • Remove engager A small black X represents removing an engager.
  • Extraction A large gray X represents extraction.

On the phase graph, these symbols indicate which procedures are being performed at each appointment. Now if you need to schedule more time for IPR or engagers, you’ll know in advance.

Tooth charts

On the tooth charts below the instructions, those same symbols give you an at-a-glance overview of where those procedures are being performed. If we know that a tooth is missing, we’ll delete it from the graph. The IPR triangles even change width to indicate whether you’re performing 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 millimeters of IPR.

There’s a chart for each step, but procedures will never be recommended on step B or D of a phase (because your patient starts those steps at home).

You can also quickly see which teeth are moving in each step—they’re highlighted in green

Tooth charts

The specific movements are listed below each graph:

Tooth movements

Epilogue

Well, I think that about does it. We covered the whole treatment plan, top to bottom. As you can see, there is a lot of information packed onto that one piece of paper. Hopefully, it will seem pretty straightforward when you start to receive the new paperwork in the next few weeks.

If you want to review this tech tip later, it will be available (like all our tips) right here on our blog. Of course, you can also always contact your account rep for assistance or feedback.

I think I'm going to go have a little lie-down. Until next week…

New patient interview

We've told you about a few recent interviews with ClearCorrect providers. Now we're adding patients to the mix. Meet Tom Kretzschmar:

All promo material prices reduced 50% or more

Brochures, posters, banners, and DVD’s can all get your patients asking about ClearCorrect. So now we're making them as affordable as we possibly can:

  • 25-pack of brochures: $5 (formerly $10)
  • Small brochure holder: $5 (formerly $15)
  • Large brochure holder & insert: $10 (formerly $20)
  • Patient DVD: $5 (formerly $10)
  • Standard banner: $60 (formerly $120)
  • Custom banner: $75 (formerly $150)
  • Posters: Free (formerly $10)

You can check them all out on ClearComm or on this updated price list:

ClearCorrect Promotional Materials Price List

Just email or call your account rep at (888) 331-3323 to order. Let us know if you want us to charge your card on file, or use a different payment method.

New free posters

We’ve designed some great new posters for you to hang up around your office.

They're conveniently sized at 18" x 24" to fit standard frames. Best of all, we’re offering them absolutely free to providers. You'll only pay shipping & handling (usually $5.95 per shipment).

First, we have updated versions of our classic posters featuring models Sydney, Savon, and Brianna:

ClearCorrect posters: Sydney, Savon, Brianna

We also have a set of brand-new posters: Case Types (featuring before & after photos, by popular demand), How Does It Work? (a brief introduction to clear aligners), and Simple (an eye-catching minimalist design).

ClearCorrect posters: Case Types, How Does It Work?, Simple

Finally, we have two special posters explaining the Phase Out program. Your patients will feel great knowing that they (and you) are supporting a great cause:

ClearCorrect posters: Phase Out (Kids), Phase Out (Closeup)

As I said before, all of these posters are available now for free. Order one, all eight, or more—we’ll squeeze as many as we can into one poster tube.

Email or call your account rep at (888) 331-3323 to order. (We can charge your account for shipping & handling on request.)

Tech Tip: Track your own unused phases on ClearComm

The first month of our Phase Out project is done, and it's been a big success. You've helped us give more than $10,000 so far—enough to give clean, safe drinking water to more than 500 people for the next 20 years or more.

As we've said before, just the fact that you're doing business with us makes you a part of this movement we're starting to build. But we thought maybe you might want to be able to see a little more about what you personally are doing to help phase out unsafe drinking water.

So now you can see your own contributions on ClearComm. Just click the "Phase Out" button on the right-hand side after you log in, and you'll see right away how many cases you've completed so far, how many leftover phases you had from each, and how much you contributed to Phase Out:

The project just got started a month ago, so you probably don't have tons of cases completed yet. Don't worry. Give it a year, and I bet you'll be floored when you see the difference you've made.

In the meantime, you can always donate and track ClearCorrect's progress at our mycharity: water page.

Phase Out update: Little green men

Phase Out is just one month old, and already you've helped us give $10,700, which will help about 535 people gain access to clean and safe drinking water.

To help our whole company keep up with our progress, we decided to dedicate one of the walls outside our manufacturing area to the Phase Out project. Here's what it looks like after just one month of contributing leftover phases to charity: water.

That's 535 little green men already! And that's our success director, Sarah Bircher. Normally she talks to doctors and gets feedback on how we're doing as a company and what we can do better. She's still doing that full time, but she loved this idea so much, she volunteered to take a little time every week to update our wall.

We're all excited to see just how big this project can get. Keep checking back here and on our Phase Out page to track our progress. Oh, and if you just can't wait for a case to finish, or even if you're not a doctor and just want to see this movement grow, you can always go to our mycharity: water page and donate to this wonderful cause.