Tech tip: Track your cases & shipments online

Screenshot of case tracking on ClearComm

We've got an awesome new feature to announce: Right now, you can view details about every case you've ever started with ClearCorrect online.

Just log on to ClearComm and click Cases. You can review your patients' info, look up which parts of your case submission have passed prescreening, and find out when your patients' next phases are scheduled to ship. (Of course, as always, projected ship dates are just estimates, so don't schedule a fitting appointment until you receive notification that the aligners have shipped.)

Speaking of shipments, now you can track those on ClearComm too! You'll find tracking numbers and detailed status updates for everything we ship in the Shipments section of the website.

You can also check & update the shipping, billing, and contact information we have on file for you by clicking on My account.

Check it out at dr.clearcorrect.com, and let us know what you think.

We're still improving the website and rolling out new functionality, so some sections might move around a bit or change in the next several weeks.

If you need help logging in, email or call your account rep. Enjoy!

Until next time...

2011 Townie Choice Awards

Townie Choice Awards 2011

Just a quick note: Dentaltown is currently surveying members to choose the winners of their 2011 Townie Choice Awards.

If you have a moment, we'd really appreciate your vote for ClearCorrect as your favorite clear aligner system. I think we've really got a shot at taking the prize this year. Thanks.

(P.S. You could be chosen at random to win $1,000 and be featured on the cover of Dentaltown magazine.)

Tech tip: Empty boxes, bad impressions, and phantom packages

Empty boxes

The #1 cause of case delays is missing items. Sometimes we get case submissions with nothing but a form in an empty box. Remember, every case requires:

  1. A case submission form
  2. Upper and lower impressions (even for single-arch treatments)
  3. A bite registration
  4. Photos
  5. X-rays

Bad impressions

The #2 cause of case delays is bad impressions.

I know we've covered this topic before, but we still get a lot of unusable impressions. Believe me, our prescreeners don't enjoy rejecting impressions--it causes delays and inconvenience for everyone involved.

But we really can't lower our standards either. If we let an unclear or incomplete impression through, our 3D model will be inaccurate, and that will cause even bigger problems all the way down the line.

So please, be extra careful when you take impressions for clear aligners. Our prescreening department has put together the following tips:

  1. Use plenty of PVS material. Too much is better than too little.
  2. Use the right size tray. If it's too small, the teeth can touch the edges.
  3. Don't move the material while it sets. This can cause subtle distortions that are hard to spot until you get aligners that don't fit.
  4. Leave the tray in long enough. You can add an extra minute to the recommended final set time just to be safe. Use a timer to make sure you never remove an impression early.
  5. Don't wait too long to add the light body. Don't let the putty or heavy body harden completely before covering it with light body and finishing the impression.

There are free videos and PDF guides linked at the bottom of this email: we recommend that you share these with anyone in your office who takes impressions.

Phantom packages

Finally, our receiving department has asked me to remind you to generate a new shipping label every time you ship us a package.

If you print copies of the same label to use on multiple packages, they'll all share the same tracking number. UPS won't be able to track the package correctly (they may not ship it at all), and your materials can be lost.

That's it for this week. As always, contact your account rep if you have any questions.

Here are those impression guides I promised:

How to Take One-Step ImpressionsHow to Take Two-Step Impressions

Open & Transparent totem awarded to Paula Clark

Our first three core values are all about how you are when you interface with others. Service obviously depends on interaction with others. Passion is something you wear on your sleeve, a trait that, if you have it, should be evident to others when they speak with you.

But the first two values are cheapened if the third value isn't there. Being open & transparent is so important in doing business with others, especially these days, when the public distrusts larger companies more and more.

Paula Clark has done an exemplary job in being open and transparent with everyone she does business with. She's our director of disbursements, and her fastidiousness and honesty have set a standard for us here at ClearCorrect to follow.

Some of Paula's coworkers and friends would seem to agree:

She has a great relationship with everyone she works with. She is very helpful to people who are new or are learning the purchasing system.

She has developed great relationships with our vendors.

Paula is open to new ideas and new ways of doing things and with our company constantly growing and changing, this is an invaluable ability.

In working with money you are constantly asked for information. Paula keeps her area open and transparent to executives who need financial information.

She knows the sound of angry typing and always tells me not to hit “send” until I get back from lunch Smile

She is one of our hardest working employees and she definitely deserves this Core Value Totem.

Thanks for showing us how it's done, Paula.

Core value #3: Be open & transparent

Trust depends on openness, respect and humanity.*

—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author

*Excerpt from “My challenge to you: only speak like a human at work

We’re lucky. We get to be something many companies don’t—we get to be real people.

Real people have names and faces. They have friends and families, real lives full of real life. They matter. They have something worth working for.

Real people aren’t perfect. They have flaws. They make mistakes and learn from them. They improve. They have something worth striving for.

Real people have opinions and values, something to speak up about. They agree with some and disagree with others. They have something worth standing for.

And real people have hopes and dreams. They have faith. They have passion. They have a certainty anything is possible. They have something worth fighting for.

There’s a lot of worth in being real, down-to-earth, shamelessly genuine people. We can count ourselves among them as long as we're open and transparent. 

So let's show the world who we really are. People will trust and respect us more when they see we’re real people—no different than them.

Tech tip: Digital power chains

Today's tip comes from our own chief technical officer, Paul Dinh.

Question:

My patient is finishing his scheduled treatment, but he still has a bit of space left between some of the teeth. What should I do?

Answer:

This sounds like a good candidate for a case revision. Send us a case revision form. In the Reason for Submission section, let us know which teeth still have space between them. In the Instructions section, you can request a "digital power chain."

A "power chain" is traditionally a piece of elastic that wraps around metal braces and pulls the teeth closer together. If you request ClearCorrect's "digital power chain", we'll just adjust our 3D model to lingualize all the spaced teeth by about 0.2 mm. There's no rubber band, but the effect is similar: the teeth are pulled closer together.

If your patient's aligners are still fitting well, you don't need to take new impressions when you request your case revision. A case revision does require another phase (with probably just one or two steps), so if you're not sure whether you have unused phases remaining in the case, you may want to ask your account rep.

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.