Core value game #1: relay race

We introduced our first value ("Be service-driven") with a relay race.

Eight teams of ClearCorrect employees scrambled to assemble boxes, sort models, and pack bags as quickly as possible—without any errors.

(Don't worry: no actual cases were used for this game.)

Execution of authentication request returned unexpected result: 404

Service totem awarded to Kevin Bell

When we started thinking about how we were going to roll out our core values to the company, we were thinking long-term. To get everyone invested in the concept of these values, we wanted to recognize and honor employees who exemplify them. But trophies aren't really our style. You have to keep giving them out and giving them out, and if the same people win multiple times, next thing you know, you're experiencing massive trophy inflation. Pretty soon, people would be trading 8 trophies for a sandwich at lunch, or a whole wheelbarrow full for a car wash. No, what we needed was something unique, and something tied to the core value it represented.

Hence, totems.

Instead of being awarded by the management, totems are intended to be passed from peer to peer, recognizing consistent, conspicuous displays of a given value. This will encourage coworkers to observe each other and appreciate the roles they play here at ClearCorrect. Our hope is that, over time, these totems will come to be one of the most meaningful ways an employee can be recognized, because although it isn't a plastic tower masquerading as gold, it is awarded by the people who know him or her best.

Our first core value is "be service-driven," and the corresponding totem is a vintage rotary phone (an homage to our outstanding account reps). However, the first recipient of the service-driven totem isn't an account rep; Kevin Bell, our deputy director for manufacturing. All ClearCorrect employees are called to be service-driven, and Kevin has always answered that call the loudest.

Why is Kevin our first winner of the service-driven award? Well, here's what some of Kevin's peers have said about him:

He always does what he says he’ll do.  If he tells me a case will go out, I have no doubt it will happen.

He gets others to deliver what they promise.  He’s the kind of guy who’s so good, he makes others better by working with them.

He’s responsive to the needs and wants of those around him.  More than once, like some kind of service ninja, he’s shown up out of nowhere because he heard I was talking about some case that needed to go out and he wanted to make sure he knew so he could help.

He’s dedicated to getting the job done.  (I think he works more than anyone in manufacturing, possibly the whole company.)

I don’t think he’s ever really complained about the amount of work we’ve given him.  He just smiles and gets it done.

So congratulations to Kevin—service-driven. With a smile on overdrive.

Core value #1: Be service-driven

We’re a service company that just happens to sell shoes.
—Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

We’ve got a secret.  Despite popular belief, we’re not in the aligner business.  We deal in a rare and valuable commodity. It’s the one thing everyone wants, the one thing no one can get enough of.  It never fades or goes out of style; versions of it from the ’70s and ’80s still look good today.  And while it’s always in high demand, it’s often in short supply. 

We deal in service. 

Now, there are varieties of service:  There’s crappy service.  We don’t touch the stuff.  There’s so-so service.  The market’s saturated with it, so we don’t sell it.  There’s good service.  Most people looking for service expect to find at least this one, so we keep some on hand.  And then there’s exceptional service, the brand that excites and surprises.  We can’t stock it fast enough!

See, this secret means that no matter what else we sell—right now it just happens to be aligners—there will always be someone out there who wants what we’ve got. 

All we have to do is deliver it with service.

New name for the blog

Quick note: We’re changing the name of the blog from Clarity to Clearly.

The address will stay the same: blog.clearcorrect.com.

ClearCorrect core values

When we started ClearCorrect, there were just a handful of us.  We knew who we wanted to be and what we wanted to stand for.  It was simple. 

As we’ve grown, maintaining that sense of identity has become more and more challenging.  New employees, new opportunities, even new customers have all brought their own ideas and their own values to the table.  It’s gotten complicated.

Complicated isn’t good for anyone, so we’re simplifying things again.

We recently took pen to paper and defined the core values that make us who we are, the values we believed in when we started the company.  There are nine of them.  We haven’t always exemplified them, but now that we’ve defined them, all of us here at ClearCorrect—and there are a lot of us here these days—can embrace them with the same passion and commitment we had when it was just a few of us.

To celebrate this milestone, we’ll be rolling out our newly defined core values, one value at a time.  Every week or so, we’ll post the value itself and a slew of other posts related to the value, including some behind-the-scenes looks at exactly how we’re injecting that value into everything we do.

We’re kicking it off next week with the first of the nine, so be sure to check back then.  We've got some good stuff planned...

ClearCorrect countersues Align: 10 patents, 408 claims, all invalid

Yesterday, we filed our response to Align Technology’s patent infringement suit. In our response, we’re countersuing Align and asking the Court to declare all 408 claims in 10 of their patents invalid.

We’re posting the entirety of the 246-page response here, along with the text of Align’s original suit against us.

You’ll find in the response, among other things, much of the evidence raised in Align’s previous patent case against Ormco, which resulted in a federal court ruling that 11 of Align’s patent claims were invalid.

We want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Make your mailers & websites beautiful

We just finished adding an assortment of brand-new images to ClearComm. Feel free to use them on your website, in ads, or in mailers. We're including a variety of sizes, including images large enough to be used in print.

There's also a guide to the standard ClearCorrect colors, and some sample sentences and paragraphs you can use if you want help coming up with something to say.

There are several ways to download the new images to your computer. You can click the size you want to download and choose Save As… from the File menu. Or you can right-click any of the links and choose Save Target As… or Save Image As…. Or you can just try dragging the images directly to your desktop.

Whoever puts together your website should know how to add these images to your site.

Give us your feedback by emailing us or commenting here. Thanks!

Tech tip: Why are the distal edges of the aligner missing sometimes?

Question:

Sometimes I've noticed that the distal half of one of the furthest posterior teeth is missing from an aligner. Why is that?

Answer:

Sometimes we receive impressions that don't have enough detail to accurately model the distal edges of the posterior teeth. Distortion is much more prevalent in this area, because it can be difficult to make sure that the impression material completely covers the teeth in the back of the mouth.

Of course, we always prefer to receive complete, accurate impressions. But we don't want to inconvenience our providers unnecessarily either.

In some cases, we'll make an exception and process the case even though the distal surfaces of the posterior teeth are incomplete in our model. The aligners still have plenty of surface area to grip the teeth. We just trim off the potentially inaccurate area so that the case can progress without delay.

If you want to make sure that your patient's aligners fully cover the distal surfaces of all the teeth, just double-check your impressions to make sure that they're not distorted in that area, and you should be fine.

Tech tip: Why aren't the posterior teeth in occlusion?

Question:

As my patient’s treatment nears its end, I’m noticing that the upper & lower anterior teeth are touching when the patient bites down, but the posterior teeth are not in occlusion. What’s going on?

Answer:

There are many possible causes of this situation. This phenomenon is fairly common with clear aligners, and it’s usually temporary. It can be caused by the “hinging” action of the jaw.

Imagine placing a 1 mm sheet of flat plastic over the occlusal & incisal surfaces of the lower teeth. As the jaw closes, the posterior teeth will contact first. The patient would have to bite down firmly to get the anterior teeth to touch completely.

The same thing can happen when the teeth are covered by clear aligners. When the patient first starts wearing them, the posterior teeth are the first to contact. After wearing the aligners for a while, the teeth adjust to compensate, and before long, the patient can bite evenly with the aligners on.

The posterior teeth will usually intrude slightly to make room for the aligner, as the patient clinches his or her jaw throughout the day. Once the teeth have adjusted to the aligners, if the patient removes the aligners and bites down, the anterior teeth will make contact first and the posterior teeth probably won't quite touch.

This is not typically a big concern, however, because the posterior teeth will usually super-erupt back into normal occlusion as soon as they get a chance. After the patient has worn the final retainer for 3-6 months and the teeth are stable, the patient can switch to wearing the retainer on alternate days to give the posterior teeth freedom to move back into their normal position. Another option is to prescribe a Hawley retainer which won't interfere with occlusion, allowing the posterior teeth to super-erupt freely.

Tech tip: 4 ways to correct crowding

Question:

Which techniques should I prescribe to treat crowding?

Answer:

The simplest option is to check “only if needed” and allow our dental technicians to offer their recommendations.

If you have specific preferences for a patient's treatment, though, please let us know. At ClearCorrect, doctors are in charge. We will customize the clear aligners to carry out whatever treatment you prescribe to the best of our ability. If you don't see an option on the form, feel free to provide special instructions in the “other instructions” section.;

For patients with severe crowding, it's usually best to use a combination of techniques. For instance, proclination and expansion are more predictable together than either technique alone.

If the crowding is not too severe, however, you may be able to achieve your goals with just one of the four options (procline, expand, distalize, or IPR).

Here are the four main techniques, and when we recommend using each one:

Procline

Patient with line drawn from nose to chin
A good candidate for proclination

Proclining teeth is a useful way to give a patient fuller lips or a fuller side profile. This is recommended for older patients whose lips are a little “droopy.” This can also be desirable for people who have a flat profile.

To check if a patient needs to be proclined, draw a line from the tip of the nose to the tip of the chin on a non-smiling profile picture. In an ideal profile, the upper lip should almost touch the line and the lower lip should overlap it slightly.

If both lips are well behind the line, the patient might benefit from proclination. If both lips are well past the line, lingualizing the teeth might improve the patient's profile. (Lingualization isn't one of the standard options, but you can request it in the “other instructions” section.)

Expand

Julia Roberts
A nice wide smile

Expansion is the most common method we use to create space. It should be used when there is visible space between the posterior teeth and the cheeks when the patient smiles. A wider smile that shows more teeth can help your patients “light up the room.” Think Julia Roberts or Anne Hathaway.

Distalize

We often recommend distalizing the anterior teeth and/or premolars 1-3 mm if you want to achieve a Class I bite and improve the patient's chewing function. We don't recommend distalizing molars; they're very difficult to translate. Distalizing and mesializing less than 4 mm per quadrant keeps the movements more predictable and reduces the chance of interference with other teeth. Of course, if you want to try for more than 4 mm, you can always request that in the “other instructions” section.

IPR

We like to avoid IPR (interproximal reduction) whenever possible. However, IPR is sometimes necessary to create space for very crowded teeth to move. IPR can also be used to treat a case quickly by keeping the teeth in their current positions and just rotating them into alignment.

We usually recommend IPR when we are aligning both arches and we need to reduce the width of the teeth on one arch to get proper overjet. In this situation, IPR is usually only needed on one arch.

We can also use IPR to put premolars or canines into a Class I relationship, or to correct a midline misalignment.

As providers treat more patients, they usually get a feel for which techniques work best for them. If you have any comments, or preferred techniques and tips, please share them in the comments.