2011: Year in review

2011 has been a busy year here at ClearCorrect.

I thought it might be helpful to review some of the stories you might have missed this year. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

  • We added snazzy new logos & images for you to download on ClearComm.
  • We countersued Align, asserting that the patents they sued us over (plus a couple others) are invalid, thanks in part to over 70 years worth of undisclosed prior art. (The case is still ongoing, but Align is currently trying to persuade the court to dismiss one of our counterclaims if they promise not to pursue that patent against us anymore).
  • We defined the core values that we hope will set us apart from the competition.
  • Should you do IPR before impressions? Generally, no.

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

  • We marked the passing of the innovative, inspring, and incomparable Steve Jobs.
  • Paul Dinh demonstrated how to make your own aligners in a free video.
  • We refreshed our treatment setups and demonstrated how to view them in ascreencast. (We're adding features to our website so quickly, this video is already half-obsolete. We'll try to record a new one soon.)
  • We recorded our first interview with a ClearCorrect provider, Dr. Dale Brant. It came out even better than we expected. (If you're in Texas, and you'd like to be featured in an interview, let us know. Also, the camcorder is still available.)
  • We updated our timeline to include Phase Zero.
  • We announced that, thanks to Phase Zero, we can let doctors judge their own impressions, instead of rejecting them based on arbitrary standards. We also explained how you can use Phase Zero to evaluate the accuracy of our models before you even approve a treatment setup.

November 2011

December 2011

And that pretty much wrapped up the year.

We have some cool stuff in store for 2012, starting with a major announcement next week that we're really, really excited about.

Thank you for all your support. We love you guys.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tech tip: Changes to single arches and midcourse corrections

You can call this the St. Louis of tech tips, because it's all about the single arch.


Three announcements today:

1. Passive aligners now included for completed single arches

Sometimes, one arch completes its movements before the other arch. In that situation, we used to ship the final retainer for that arch, and send just one aligner with the remaining steps.

Now, when one arch finishes, we'll include a fresh retainer (a.k.a. "passive aligner") for that arch with each subsequent step. If you submit a dual-arch case, you'll get two aligners in every bag for the entire case. So if you stopped getting aligners for one arch, and now you're getting them again, it's not a mistake, it's free retainers. Merry Christmas!

2. Single-arch impressions OK for Phase Zero revisions

As a general rule, we've usually required upper & lower impressions and a bite registration for just about anything.

But what if you get Phase Zero and one arch fits great, but the other arch has problems? We're changing our policy. Now, if you like, you can submit an impression just for the arch that needs correction. Happy Hanukkah!

3. Single-arch impressions OK for midcourse corrections

You can probably guess where this is going.

What if you're submitting a midcourse correction, and one arch fits fine, but the other needs work?

We'll still happily accept two impressions and a bite registration, but if you prefer, we'll also accept an impression just for the arch that's having problems. Happy New Year!

You've trimmed your tree, now try Trimming Kits!

Make this the best Christmas ever by sharing the timeless gift of ClearCorrect Trimming Kits.

ClearCorrect Trimming Kit

Trimming Kits make perfect stocking stuffers for all your friends & family!

What better way to say “I love you” than with the gift of abrasive buff polishers?

Just imagine the smile on little Timmy's face as he fabricates his very first replacement aligner.*

To celebrate the season, we're offering the Trimming Kit for just $75 until the end of 2011—that's over 15% off the regular price!

The kit includes all the supplies you need to make your own replacement aligners quickly & easily in your own office:

  • 10 .030" plastic sheets
  • 1 steel wheel saw
  • 1 pair of crown & bridge scissors
  • 10 abrasive buff polishers
  • How to make your own aligners instruction sheet

To order, just email your account rep or call us at (888) 331-3323.

Happy holidays, everybody!

*Easy-Bake Thermoformer sold separately. Keep out of reach of children without valid dental license.

Tech tip: Upcoming changes to case submission

We're always looking for ways to eliminate problems that can hold up the case submission process.

Rejected impressions used to cause a lot of delays, but we solved that problem by accepting most impressions and letting you evaluate them yourself using Phase Zero.

In the next few weeks, we'll be making a few more small policy changes that should streamline things even further. Keep an eye out for these:

1. Uploaded photos required for online submissions

We already recommend that you submit your cases online. When you do, you can also upload your digital photos. Right now, you have an option to send photos with the impressions instead of uploading them to our website.

Unfortunately, sometimes doctors select that option but then forget to send photos. This is actually the #1 cause of case submission delays right now. To correct this problem, we'll soon be requiring uploaded photos with each online case submission.

2. Online payment method management

The #2 cause of hangups right now is that some doctors haven't authorized us to automatically charge their credit card or checking account when they submit a case. We have to call and get someone to read us numbers over the phone for every case. Soon, you'll be able to update your credit card or checking account information right on ClearComm, and you'll choose & authorize your payment method when you submit.

3. Automatically prescribing default treatment options

The #3 cause of delayed cases is incomplete submission forms. If a doctor doesn't fill in every treatment option, we have to call and ask for a new form. This isn't a problem on the website, because the most common treatment options are selected by default unless you change them.

To fix this problem, we plan to start processing handwritten forms more like the website; if you leave some treatment options blank, we'll assume that you want us to handle the case with our default options (the ones highlighted in green on the form). We've updated our forms with new wording to reflect this change.

Tech tip: What makes engagers fall off?

Not too long ago, a doctor wrote to us saying that he was having trouble getting engagers to stay on his patient's teeth.

Our chief technical officer, Paul Dinh, shares his thoughts:

Engagers coming off the tooth when removing the trays usually means the composite is not fully adhering to the tooth. Here are some possible causes and solutions for this problem:

  • Sometimes plaque might prevent the etch from working.
    • Micro etching (sand blasting) will remove the plaque properly.
  • The tooth is a restoration.
    • Use a special etch for porcelain from your dental supplier. (This does not always work.)
  • Petroleum jelly from the template is accidentally smearing on the tooth.
    • Lift the template off of the tooth during insertion. Or, if possible, use the previous aligner to install the engager without using petroleum jelly. The composite won't adhere to used aligners as much as it will to new templates.
  • Compressed air used to dry the tooth is contaminated with oil.
    • This is the most common problem with compressed air and is hard to correct in the system.  Try drying the tooth with a low-heat blow dryer that can be bought at a dental suppler.

If you have any tips regarding engagers, let us know in the comments.

Until next time...

Tech tip: Changes to treatment setup approval

This week, I wanted to let you know about some upcoming changes to the treatment setup approval process.

As we've mentioned in previous tech tips, one of the intended benefits of Phase Zero is to make it possible for you to test the accuracy of the dental models before regular phases go into production.

We've found that things can get confusing, however, when doctors test Phase Zero on their patients and discover a problem after they've already approved a treatment setup. We have to halt the production of Phase 1 and create a new treatment setup, canceling the one that was already approved because it's based on faulty models.

To prevent this scenario, soon we'll be asking you to approve or disapprove Phase Zero before you approve the treatment setup. We're updating ClearComm to reflect this new policy.

The new treatment setup viewing page will look something like this:

Treatment setup approval screenshot

You'll click (or right-click) the PDF icon to download the treatment setup and view it as usual in Adobe Reader. Before you can approve or disapprove the treatment setup, however, you'll need to make a decision about Phase Zero.

We strongly encourage you to test the fit of the Phase Zero aligners on your patient and carefully inspect the models before you approve them.

Remember, the effectiveness of the aligners depends on the accuracy of the models that are created from your impressions. As the prescribing doctor, this is your best opportunity to verify the models and aligners firsthand.

If you disapprove Phase Zero, the treatment setup will automatically be disapproved as well. We'll recommend that you submit new impressions, and we'll use them to generate a new treatment setup for your approval.

Treatment setup disapproval screenshot

By default, we won't manufacture another Phase Zero, but if you want to be extra-careful, you can check the box to request one for $95.

We think this change will make the process more reliable and less confusing. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Until next time...

Happy Thanksgiving!

No tip this week.

We just wanted to let you know that our account reps will be home for the holidays until Monday, November 28. (Hopefully, you will be too.)

Until then...

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tech tip: Smörgåsbord of helpfulness

You might call this week's tech tip "a random mish-mash of helpful tidbits."

Keep in touch!

First, if you've been visiting our YouTube channel or this blog recently, you'll notice we've posted lots of new stuff over the past month or so. This blog is a great place to see all sorts of news and tech tips, from the very-recent to the relatively-old (while we're thinking about it, our Facebook page ain't half-bad, either).

Lately, we've been talking to some of our hometown doctors to see what they think of our product and our service. The latest of these was Dr. Annette Murphy of Smile Dental Arts. (Spoiler alert: Marvin's true identity is revealed.)

Completing cases

When you get to the last aligner in the last planned phase of your patient's treatment, it's time to evaluate the patient's dentition.

If you or the patient aren't happy, you'll probably want to request a refinement. If you have unused phases remaining, there's no extra charge for refinements (although you will be responsible for the cost of shipping any new impressions to us). Just send us a refinement form to let us know what needs to be changed.

If you and your patient are satisfied with the treatment, please let your account rep know so we can send you the final retainer and close the case. If you never request a retainer, the case might just hang in limbo indefinitely.

We're working on streamlining this process, but for now, if your last phase is finished or about to finish, please contact your account rep and let us know whether you're ready for the retainer.

Also, please let us know if your patient gets behind schedule so we don't waste your phases delivering aligners that you're not ready for. We can put your case on hold and start it back up whenever you're ready.

Marketing: kicking it up a notch

Finally, we've recently had a couple of doctors tell us that they have dozens of case submissions coming up. We looked into it, and those doctors had recently run very successful Groupon promotions.

We've seen doctors run Groupon promotions before that didn't turn out so hot, so we thought you'd like to know what worked in this instance:

  • One doctor offered limited cases (with some tubes of tooth whitening solution) for 50% off.
  • One doctor offered full cases for 55% off.

That's about it. They were simple offers and they seem to have worked well for these doctors.

We don't have any relationship with Groupon, so we're not endorsing them specifically. (Honestly, I can't even get anyone at Groupon to answer the phone. They need some Katys & Marvins over there.)

We're just passing along something that seems to have worked well. If you do decide to run a promotion with a site like Groupon, make sure they get the product details right. We've seen some descriptions that barely resemble what you get in a Full or Limited case. You can always double-check the descriptions on the Product List.

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

Happy Veteran's Day

To all who serve, and to all who have served, we thank you.

On this Veteran's Day, We'd like to recognize a few of our own ClearCorrectors who answered the call:

Daniel Cantu
Daniel Cantu, U.S. Marine Corps

Marvin Chan
Marvin Chan, U.S. Air Force

Reuben Dudley
Reuben Dudley, U.S. Army

Brian Feldman

Brian Feldman, U.S. Coast Guard.


Dr. Pumphrey
Dr. Willis Pumphrey, U.S. Army


We appreciate your selflessness, and again we thank you for your service.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Movember at ClearCorrect

These days, a clean-shaven guy coming in to apply for a job here at ClearCorrect might feel a bit out of place. Lately, it’s looking a little like all our male staff are working round the clock, with no time to shave. Some of our guys are looking like they’re growing playoff beards.

But there’s an explanation for this aside from how work and personal grooming habits collide: it’s Movember.

To raise awareness for men’s health issues, each of our guys started this month clean-shaven and vowed not to shave again until November 30th, when they’ll unveil some of the greatest facial hair ever witnessed. In just a couple weeks we’ll post some photos so that you can be the judge: which ClearCorrector will have the fullest, most manly, most creative moustache of all? Stay tuned, and you can help us decide!

To learn more on what Movember's all about, visit Movember.com.