Tech tip: How to double-check your progress

Here's a tip from Dr. Rohini Vajaria of New York:

One tip I can offer is when the patient comes in the office for an appointment, it is helpful to do a careful clinical exam and compare the patient's progress to the ClearCorrect setups and confirm they match up.

For example, the patient's occlusion and alignment at the end of phase 1 should be compared to the phase 1 molds fabricated by ClearCorrect, and both should match each other.

This is a simple, intuitive piece of advice, but if they don't match up, it can help the clinician identify poor patient compliance, etc. and catch potential problems early.

Thanks, Dr. Vajaria.

If you have any comments or tips of your own that you'd like to share, please let us know in the comments.

Tech tip: One provider's favorite trick

In this week's edition, a ClearCorrect provider shares one of his favorite techniques.

Dr. Jose Chacon of Chicago, IL, writes:

I have what I think is a great clinical tip.

Using specially trimmed Essix retainers, I've shifted teeth to fit into an aligner that doesn't fit anymore.

A few weeks ago, I came across an interesting situation.

Long story short, a patient with spaces doesn't show for her scheduled appointment to start her ClearCorrect treatment.

Because of multiple personal and financial problems, she takes 5 months to come back after her original appointment. At this point, the impressions were about 6 months out-of-date, and I was worried about the aligners' fit. We explained to her that she would be responsible for expenses of re-booting her case if needed. We told her that most likely the aligners wouldn't fit when she made it back to the office.

Sure enough, when we finally got her back to the office, neither aligner would fit, but the lower arch was the worst. The discrepancy in the lower arch was so bad that it looked completely hopeless. The aligner was at least 5 mm off. If forced onto one side, it would not fit on the front or the opposite side.

After trying for a while, we discussed the possibility of retaking the impressions and starting all over again. But I wanted to try to avoid additional expenses, more appointments, and more waiting. I thought if I could at least trim the aligner and engage it partially, we could try fitting it 100% later.

I didn't want to damage my first aligner, so I made upper and lower Essix retainers using the #1 plastic model to reproduce the first aligner. We trimmed the plastic retainer half way the crowns' height. The upper retainer fit; the lower still didn't.

Then we trimmed away 2/3 of the lower retainer, leaving mostly the incisal and occlusal and about 1-2 mm on the lingual and buccal.

This time the lower retainer was able to be forced in place. The patient reported feeling this retainer very tight. We prescribed for her to wear these retainers/aligners 1 week full time. After a week, we tried her original aligners, and BOOM, they fit! The lower aligner was very tight, but it fit on the teeth 100%.

If aligners have not been used for a long time, and/or the teeth have moved, and aligners will not fit, then by making temporary trimmed-back 1mm-thick Essix retainers, we can make the regular aligners fit again, even if the teeth have moved a long way. So next time a patient's initial aligner doesn't fit or he hasn't worn aligners for a while and these can't fit again, I can use a trimmed clear retainer to move teeth back.

I hope this tip is useful to others. I am finding the versatility of these appliances makes them my # 1 choice for orthodontic treatment with aligners.

Thanks for the tip, Dr. Chacon. I should point out that we're just sharing one provider's tip; every patient varies, and we have not extensively tested this method for safety or accuracy, so we're not endorsing it as an official ClearCorrect technique. As always, use your own best judgement when prescribing treatment for your patients.

If you have any comments or tips of your own that you'd like to share, please let us know in the comments.

Tech tip: Marketing ideas from providers

Today we have some marketing tips sent in by providers.

Dr. Kathy DeFord writes from Papillion, Nebraska:

I had a really nice sign made for my office to advertise ClearCorrect. I forwarded the graphics from your website and had SpeedPro make a sign that shows nicely from the outside of my office, but doesn't show from the inside. From the waiting area you can look right out the window, with no advertising visible. I really like it.

Nice use of the ClearCorrect graphics, Dr. DeFord.

If you have a great idea for an ad or sign, please feel free to use any of the updated logos & images available at dr.clearcorrect.com, and share the results with us.

And don't forget that you can also order standard or customized vinyl banners directly from your account rep. We recently updated the artwork on those as well.

Dr. Alan Siegel of Phoenix, Arizona says that he tripled his aligner cases by promoting his practice with a custom folding windshield ad that he invented. Now he also prints windshield ads for other dentists as a side business.

And finally, Gibbs Hightower, our own director of public events, has a few suggestions of his own for increasing your visibility on the Internet:

  1. Spelling makes a difference. When you write about ClearCorrect, remember that there's no space between "Clear" and "Correct".
  2. Link it up. When you mention ClearCorrect or clear aligners on your website, try making the words a link to clearcorrect.com, like this: ClearCorrect. It might improve your ranking (and ours) in search results.
  3. Before & afters are priceless. There's no better marketing tool than before & after photos of your own patients. Remember to take pictures when your patients finish their treatment (get written permission first). And if you want to pass them along to us, we'd be happy to share them too. Send photos (and stories) to your account rep or beforeafter@clearcorrect.com.

New dental models

ClearCorrect has always included models for each aligner that we send out. This is one of the big advantages of ClearCorrect over the competition. We've gotten feedback that those models are a little inconvenient to use on some thermoforming machines, because you have to grind off the corners of the square base.

Today we're pleased to announce that we're starting a transition to the next generation of dental models. Our new models will be higher-resolution, so they're more accurate and should produce better-fitting aligners. We've also eliminated the square base, so it will be easier for you to make models in your office. Best of all, the case and step number will be engraved directly onto the bottom of each model.

We're switching over slowly to monitor any issues, but some providers should start to see the new models in their cases in the coming weeks. Here's what they look like:

Let us know what you think.

Tech tip: One provider's engager trick

Today's tip comes from Dr. Mark Bentele:

One tip that I have is on placing the engagers. The engager template may not fit passively over the entire tooth if the teeth are not tracking fully. In that situation, the engager may not end up in the right place when you use the entire template. Instead, trim the template down to just the tooth with the engager and about 2/3 of the teeth on either side of it. The template will fit fully in place and the engager will be bonded correctly. This is also helpful because the engager template can be peeled away from the tooth facially rather than trying to pull it off vertically, which is more difficult.

Sounds like a good idea to us. Thanks, Dr. Bentele.

If you have any tips you'd like to share, email us or let us know in the comments.

Passion totem awarded to Daniel Cantu

We're not a big dog. If the competition is a Saint Bernard, then we're probably like a Jack Russell Terrier. They may be big and powerful, but we more than make up for that with our energy, our vigor—our passion. (And ingenuity too, but that's more of a collie-like trait, which doesn't really fit in this analogy.)

Since we've started up on these core values, I've noticed that we've got a lot of people here who go the extra mile, who get energized when you present them with a challenge. These are the kind of people we like to see at ClearCorrect—people who, if you give them a challenge, they kick it into high gear.

This is how Daniel Cantu is. One of our most experienced sales reps, Daniel's the winner of our second totem, and it's not too hard to see why:

"He’s been with the company since the beginning and he’s stuck it out through thick and thin."

"He’s shown an interest in learning several different areas of the company so he can pitch in and help whenever needed."

"He’s a fighter—when met with obstacles, he works hard to overcome them."

"He owns in tug-o-war."

“He’s a Marine. ‘Nuff said.”

So of course Daniel deserves the boxing gloves—commemorating a fighting spirit—and you can't say they don't look good on him.

 

Core Value game #2: Tug-o-war

The second core value game was represented by a very passionate game: Tug-o-war!

We assembled 8 teams and they battled through out the week in a tournament-style bracket, each team passionately pulling the ropes as if we were pulling away from the competition.

Execution of authentication request returned unexpected result: 404

Core value #2: Be passionate

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
—Mark Twain

We’ve measured it. We’ve weighed it. We’ve counted and quantified it. And if the bumps and bruises weren’t proof enough, we’ve now settled it.

We’ve got fight.

It turns out, our fight is an old-school model—vintage. It’s larger than most you’ll see today. Solid and well-built, from a time before they started making them all plastic and compact. It runs a little loud. It runs a little rough. But it’ll plow over anything in its path.

Our fight will take us wherever we want to go. We just have to fuel it. Lucky for us, it runs on something cheaper than gasoline and in far greater supply: passion.

So let’s top off the tank and go for a ride. With a fight our size, no one can stop us.

Creating a league of extraordinary reps

Meet Marvin

Marvin is the not-so-mild mannered alter ego of one of our real-life account reps. Many of our doctors may recognize Marvin from the recent mailers we’ve been sending out to introduce him and the other superheroes we’ve added to our team of reps.

Marvin is service personified. He represents the months of work we’ve dedicated to completely transforming our customer service department from an inbound, reactive call center to a proactive league of extraordinary account reps, focused and driven by service.

It’s been a huge undertaking for us, and we’ve still got a ways to go (our heroes haven’t mastered all of their powers yet), but I thought before we announced our next value, this would be a perfect opportunity to share what we’ve been up to and to highlight just one way we’ve been injecting our first core value into one of the most important parts of our company.

Holy crappy service, Marvin!

Several months ago, we had one of the best realizations we’ve ever had: our customer service sucked. It hadn’t always sucked, but it sucked then. Phone calls were going unanswered. Messages weren’t being returned. And our doctors were having a harder time than they should have been.

Our initial response to this realization was MORE. More reps, more managers, more shifts, more phone lines, more computers, more technology, more, more, more. That helped for a little while, but just a little while.

The problem was in our customer service model. Something like a tier-based system, we had “specialists” dedicated to handling various parts of a doctor’s account: If you needed some shipping supplies, you’d call rep A; needed to check on a case, you’d call rep B; had some technical questions, you’d call rep C. The result for our doctors wasn’t a pleasant one. Callers would get bounced around and end up disgruntled, thinking the right hand didn’t know squat about the left. The model was broken, and what had only kind of worked with 1,000 doctors wasn’t scaling well at 10,000. Adding more of what wasn’t working wasn’t the solution.

After our legs stopped swinging from that initial knee jerk, we came up with a better response: CHANGE.

We looked back in our short history for the time we had serviced our doctors the best. It didn’t take long to find it; all the stats and feedback pointing to it made it easy to spot once we were willing to look.

It turns out, believe it or not, we delivered our best customer service when we had a single, solitary rep. Just one. She had no fancy technology, just a notepad for tracking stuff. When doctors called, they could easily reach her. She had no elevated tier to defer to; she had to learn everything so she could answer anything. We had considerably fewer doctors back then, numbers she could manage on her own and numbers that allowed her to forge lasting relationships, many of which continue today, years later. She was passionate about service, and she did whatever it took to make sure her doctors were happy.

She was our first superhero, the prototype. And if we were really going to make a change that worked, we’d need to get her back in a cape.

Splicing Marvin with the prototypical genome

Her name is Carrie. She used to be our one and only account rep, and now she’s back leading the project determined to mutate Marvin into a service-driven hero. Taking her successful actions from the past and scaling them up to work with more reps and more doctors, we’ve been making changes bit by bit. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Doctors have dedicated reps.
    There’s no more bouncing around. Just as it was with doctors who depended on Carrie, doctors now have just one person they can call, one person they can know by name, one person they can depend on for anything and everything.

  • Reps have dedicated teams for support.
    Carrie’s support team was just me, but she had one nonetheless. Now, once again, if a doctor’s rep is unavailable for any reason, a team member familiar with his or her account can step in and assist if needed.

  • Reps have fewer doctors.
    We’ve reduced the number of doctors per rep by nearly 80%, down to the range Carrie was handling. Reps are now free enough to give their doctors more time and attention.

  • Reps work when their doctors work.
    Back when Carrie was a rep, most of our doctors were based in Texas, so she was working when they were. With doctors now scattered across the US, having reps just work 9 – 5 CST doesn’t cut it. Reps are assigned doctors by time zone and they work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (at least) for whatever time zone their doctors are working in.

  • Reps are trained better. 
    Carrie had been with ClearCorrect from the beginning. She had seen every version of our products and every iteration of our processes. That’s a lot of knowledge. New reps now receive the most comprehensive internal training we’ve ever had on our products or our processes. They may not be able to answer every question just yet, but we’re working on it.

  • Reps live and breathe service.
    Carrie was driven by a pure passion to serve. It’s the same for our reps now. They’re there to help their doctors, not push for sales. They’re free to take as much time as they need and do just about anything to ensure their doctors are happy and satisfied with our products.

So far, the changes are working well and the feedback from our doctors is positive. Carrie won’t be hanging up her cape just yet as there’s a bit more to do, but now Marvin and the other superheroes on our team are flying in the right direction, and they’re gaining speed.

We’ve learned a lot about what it really means to be service-driven over the course of this project, and we expect to learn quite a bit more. I hope this inside look at one way we've approached being service-driven has been helpful or at least interesting.

Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or even your own service-driven experiences with us in the comments.

Tech tip: Special guest edition

Today's tips come from Stephanie, our director of communications, and Katrina, our case receiving coordinator.

They've seen it all when it comes to case submissions, and they have some friendly advice that could save you (and them) a lot of headaches:

  1. Write the tracking number in your patient's chart when you submit a case or send in materials. (The tracking number is printed on the UPS shipping label.)

  2. We won't start a case until we get all required materials (no exceptions):
    • Case submission form
    • Well-defined upper & lower impressions
    • Bite registration
    • Photos
    • X-rays

  3. Always include a form with your impressions, photos, and x-rays. It's not ClearCorrect's responsibility to figure out what to do with unidentified materials.

  4. Make sure you send in the correct, fully-completed form. All of our forms are available on ClearComm, and most of them have been updated recently, so you should make sure you have the current version. If you have questions about which form to use, how to fill it out, or how to log on to ClearComm, please call (888) 331-3323 and ask your account rep—that's what they're here for.

  5. Print clearly on the form and double-check the spelling of the patient's name.

  6. One case submission per box, please.

  7. If you email photos or x-rays, always include the doctor's and patient's names. Make sure that the photos and x-rays are sent as attachments instead of pasted into the middle of the message.

That's it for this week. Until next time...