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.

The free market

Seth Godin on the free market:

There's no question that an unfettered authoritarian corporate regime is more efficient and effective—in the short run. In the long run, though, the free market triumphs, as long as it isn't destroyed by those that get to play first.

The free market is a great idea, which is why we need to be careful when market incumbents lobby to make it un-free.

Amen.

Provider perk: Take a free refresher course, anytime

Did you know that ClearCorrect providers can sit in on one of our online training webinars at no cost? This can be a great way to refresh your memory, or to train your office staff. It doesn't matter whether you originally took the webinar, a workshop, or an e-course.

The easiest way to request a free refresher course is to contact our director of online public services, Maxi Parilli. You can email Maxi at mparilli@clearcorrect.com, or give her a call at (888) 331-3323, extension 6112 (dial 9 before entering the extension). Just let her know which webinar you'd like to attend. Here are some upcoming webinar dates to choose from. (The times below are given for the Central timezone.)

Standard webinars

  • April 13: Wed 7-9pm
  • April 18: Mon 7-9pm
  • April 21: Thurs 8-10pm
  • April 27: Wed 6-8pm
  • May 4: Wed 7-9pm
  • May 9: Mon 8-10pm
  • May 12: Thurs 7-9pm
  • May 18: Wed 6-8pm
  • May 23: Mon 8-10pm
  • May 26: Thurs 7-9pm
  • May 30: Mon 6-8pm

Orthodontist-only webinars

  • April 13: Wed 11:30am-12:30pm
  • April 28: Thurs 6-7pm
  • May 11: Wed 7-8pm
  • May 24: Tue 8-9pm

If none of these times work for you, let Maxi know. We may have a webinar at a later date that will fit into your schedule.

ClearCorrect introduces Compliance Enforcers™

HOUSTON, TX—Clear aligner therapy has straightened the teeth of thousands of patients, easily and invisibly. The primary factor limiting successful treatment has always been patient compliance. If aligners aren't worn for at least 22 hours per day, the osteoclastic activity which reshapes the gums stops, and the teeth won't move as intended.

To combat this issue, ClearCorrect has always offered doctors a popular feature known as Compliance Checkpoints™. By checking whether certain teeth are touching at various points during the treatment, dentists can determine whether or not patients have been wearing their aligners.

Now ClearCorrect is taking patient compliance management to the next level with an exciting new aligner feature, available exclusively from ClearCorrect: Compliance Enforcers™.

Compliance Enforcers™ are tiny RFID-enabled microchips embedded within each clear aligner. Each microchip is equipped with an array of sensors designed to detect temperature, ambient light, and certain enzymes in the patient's saliva. These sensors enable the aligner to detect whether it's in the patient's mouth, in an aligner case, or under the passenger seat of a 1983 Subaru BRAT.

If the aligner detects that it has been outside of the mouth for over one hour in any 24-hour period, it begins to emit a periodic warning tone, which increases in volume and frequency as the two-hour mark approaches. At two hours, the aligner enters GuilTrip™ mode. A tiny speaker embedded in the chip plays a prerecorded lecture from the patient's dentist about the importance of aligner maintenance, followed by the sound of a mother crying because her crooked-toothed child will never find a spouse.

If the aligner is not reinserted into the mouth within three hours, it activates its unique Active Recovery™ feature. The aligner transmits a signal to a transponder chip installed in one of the patient's fillings. Using an advanced nanocomposite material to generate electricity from the patient's saliva, the transponder charges the other fillings in the mouth with a powerful electromagnetic field. The magnetic intensity is gradually increased, until it is strong enough to attract the Compliance Enforcer™ in the patient's aligner.

Drawn by the magnetic force, the aligner will then slide out of its hiding place and up the patient's body, attempting to reinsert itself in the patient's mouth. If all of that sounds unsanitary, don't worry. Compliance Enforcers™ are equipped with micro-nozzles which spray a concentrated antimicrobial foam onto the aligner when it begins to enter the proximity of the patient's face.

Please note that other metal objects may also be attracted by the extremely powerful electromagnetic force, so we recommend that all patients using Compliance Enforcers™ stay away from knives, metal buttons, zippers, keys, jewelry, and electronic devices during their treatment.

Compliance Enforcers™ are available as an optional upgrade to any ClearCorrect case starting April 1, 2011. The first 200 doctors to sign up for Compliance Enforcers™ will receive a special discounted upgrade price of $750,000 per aligner. Just call (888) 331-3323 and mention promo code "MICRONOZZLE."

Tech tip: Redesigned, simpler forms

We've recently redesigned all of our forms to be easier to understand and faster to fill out. If you’re a ClearCorrect provider, you’ll probably want to download these new forms from ClearComm and start using them right away.

Here's a quick comparison:

Comparison of old & new ClearCorrect forms

The default options for most common cases are now highlighted in green, so you can write your prescriptions more quickly. We've also organized the case submission form into three clear sections and simplified the wording of our treatment options. You still have just as much flexibility in how you prescribe your treatment, but hopefully now it will be more clear how to do it.

Instead of a confusing case revision form, we now have separate forms for midcourse corrections, refinements, and for the rare post-approval setup revision. The quality control form has been discontinued (just talk to your account rep if you experience any issues), and we have an IPR tracking chart you can use to keep track of your patients’ IPR. Also, by popular demand, we have an optional FMX template to go along with our optional photo template.

You can get all the new forms on ClearComm at dr.clearcorrect.com. We’ve also moved our logos, images, and promotional items from our main site to ClearComm in preparation for adding more provider-exclusive content.

If you don't know your username or password for ClearComm, your account rep can help you with that. Just give us a call at (888) 331-3323 or email customerservice@clearcorrect.com. And let us know what you think of the new forms. We're always open to suggestions.

Tech tip: 3 impression tips that can save you weeks

We recently determined that 3 basic issues are accounting for over 75% of all the bad impressions that we receive. Here are the issues, and how to correct them.

Most frequent impression problems: 1) Double impression, 2) Material not fully set, 3) Posterior distortion, 4) Relining/reinserting, 5) Tray too small, 6) No light body, 7) Not enough material, 8) Missing opposing impression, 9) Material lifter off of tray

Issue #1: Double impression in 2-step material

The most common problem that we find is a double impression, which usually happens during a 2-step impression.

The easiest solution is to switch to a simpler, more reliable 1-step impression material, such as Sultan Genie VPS. We've prepared a video and a printed guide for this type of material.

If you prefer the 2-step impression process, that's okay too. Just keep an eye out for double impressions. Remember to cover the putty with a plastic sheet when you take the first impression, and to take your second impression before the first one has fully set. We have a video and printed guide for this type of impression as well.

Issue #2: Material not fully set

Our second-most common issue is material that hasn't fully set before being removed. There are two simple things you can do to prevent this problem:

  1. Set a timer and make sure to follow the directions for your material exactly.
  2. Discard the first 1 inch of material that comes out of every new mixing tip.

Issue #3: Posterior distortion

The final big issue is distortion of the most distal teeth in the impression. It can be hard to see back there, and sometimes the posterior teeth get shortchanged. There are a couple of ways to avoid this problem:

  1. Make sure that you're using a correctly-sized tray. It should extend past the last tooth in the arch without touching the gums.
  2. Before inserting the tray containing light body, add some light body directly to the occlusal and distal portion of the last tooth in the arch, ensuring that the last tooth is completely covered with material.

We hope this helps. Look for these issues before you send your impressions in, and you could save yourself & your patient the hassle of taking new impressions.