Over $25,000 raised for charity: water

A quick update on our Phase Out project—since January, you’ve helped us raise over $25,000 to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. The folks at charity: water recently wrote us to say:

We continue to be blown away by your team’s passion for the cause and your amazing dedication to making a huge change in the world through your efforts!! Thank you!

We are so grateful to all the ClearCorrect patients and providers who have made this possible by wearing their aligners regularly and completing treatment with leftover phases. Don’t forget, you can track your own phases on ClearComm. Together, we’re making a difference.

Small Business Today radio interview

Our CEO, Jarrett Pumphrey, and Anthony Penketh (our Chief Marketing Officer) were interviewed yesterday by John Cruise for the Small Business Today radio show.

It was a great interview, and a lot of fun. If you'd like to learn a little more about us, check it out:

Invisalign hopes third time’s the charm at beating ClearCorrect in the courts rather than the free market

ClearCorrect, LLC, a manufacturer of clear aligners, received notice that Align Technology, Inc., (the maker of Invisalign®) has filed another round of lawsuits alleging patent infringement, this time in two complaints to the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The first complaint alleges ClearCorrect is infringing seven patents related to methods of planning and implementing orthodontic treatment with aligners. Several of the patents-in-issue overlap patents from Align's federal suit against ClearCorrect filed just last year. Though filing complaints with the ITC is a clear favorite from Align's "how to beat your competition" playbook, ClearCorrect remains unfazed.

"We're certain we don't infringe any valid patents," said Jarrett Pumphrey, ClearCorrect CEO. "It doesn't matter how many times they sue us or where they sue us -- that won't change. The only thing this changes is who we'll be proving that to."

In fact, according to ClearCorrect's legal counsel, Mike Myers, ClearCorrect welcomes the ITC action, "The ITC process is generally faster, so ClearCorrect can makes its case sooner rather than later. ClearCorrect has always maintained that orthodontists taught Align how to straighten teeth, not the other way around. In its first two cases, Align was never able to show that ClearCorrect does anything other than practice the vast prior art developed by orthodontists over the last 70 years, which ClearCorrect is free to do. The new filings should allow ClearCorrect to promptly demonstrate the scope of its work and thereby continue to focus on servicing its customers distraction-free."

The second complaint seeks enforcement of a Consent Order granted in 2006 from an ITC action between Align and OrthoClear. Though ClearCorrect is not OrthoClear, Align is apparently asking the ITC to recognize them as the same company and enforce a Consent Order that would otherwise not apply.

Per Align, certain employees of ClearCorrect Pakistan (Private) Ltd., a company started in Lahore, Pakistan, to support the domestic and international growth of ClearCorrect, are in violation of the Consent Order. Align contends that those employees previously worked for OrthoClear and are now engaging in alleged "infringing activities." The employees of ClearCorrect Pakistan use the process developed in the US by ClearCorrect, which does not infringe any of Align's valid patents. This is simply another way Align is attempting to use the courts to scare doctors and disrupt fair and legitimate competition.

"Align has been trying to convince doctors that we're OrthoClear for years. This is just more of the same," said Pumphrey. "The truth is, as we've planned and positioned for international growth, we found a motivated and passionate workforce in Pakistan to support it -- just like Align did, once upon a time. But that doesn't make us OrthoClear or Align. We're ClearCorrect."

Tech tip: New & improved treatment plans

In the next couple of weeks, we’re rolling out brand-new, totally redesigned treatment plans. You’re going to love this. The new paperwork adds a ton of new useful information, and really clarifies how phases work. We’ve also managed to cut it down from five pages to a single, Earth-friendly sheet of paper.

Treatment plans: funky & clunky vs. lean & green

Get comfortable, because this tech tip is probably going to be our longest one yet, and you’re going to want to know this stuff.

We’ll start at the top of the treatment plan and work our way down. (Download a sample treatment plan here if you want to follow along.)

Case information

Patient name

Nothing too surprising here. A big readable patient name is followed by the case number, the prescribing doctor, and the date that the current phase was shipped.

(By the way, if your email client usually blocks images, you’ll want to make sure to load them now. Things are about to get very visual.)

Phase graph

Phase graph

The phase graph at the top of each treatment plan gives you a quick overview of the entire case: past, present, and future.

As you know, we make our aligners one phase at a time. A standard phase includes four sets of aligners, and lasts 12 weeks. Each phase is represented as a box on this graph, segmented into four steps. (Phase Zero and the retainer are narrower because they only include one set of aligners.)

Let’s take a closer look at each section of the graph:

Past phases

Past phases

Phases that you’ve already received are represented as gray boxes on the graph.

In this example, a note under phase 3 indicates that it was shipped as a midcourse correction. Don’t worry about the little symbols in phase 1 just yet; we’ll talk about those later.

Current phase

Current phase

The current phase (the one sent with the treatment plan) is filled in green. The phase number above it is big, bold, and also green. In this example, the patient is about to start phase 5, which is also a midcourse correction.

I bet you really want to know about the triangles, square, and X on the first & third step. Just hang tight—it’ll all be clear soon.

Planned phases

Planned phases

The right side of the graph offers a glimpse into the future. Planned phases are represented as green outlines. Here we can see that the final planned phase is phase 6. It’s scheduled to ship around March 28, 2012*, followed by final retainers whenever the doctor requests them (you do request final retainers, don’t you?).

*That asterisk after the shipping date is important. Estimated ship dates are just that—estimates. They change all the time. You really want to wait to schedule appointments until you get an email notifying you that the aligners have shipped. If a patient shows up before the aligners do, no one is happy.

Also remember that this is an estimate of the ship date, not the delivery date.Depending on where you are, UPS Ground delivery can take up to 5 business days. Updated shipping date estimates and tracking numbers are available on ClearComm. Don’t hesitate to use them.

Extra phases

Extra phases

Here’s something you’ve never been able to see before: extra phases. They’re represented by light gray outlines on the graph.

As you know, a certain number of phases are included with each case (3 for Limited, 8 for Full). If a Full case has fewer than 8 phases scheduled, some unused phases are left over. Those extra phases can be used for replacements, midcourse corrections, or refinements. If some phases are still left over when you request the final retainer, they’re donated to the Phase Out program.

These new graphs should help you understand your options. For instance, if you request a midcourse correction, the treatment may use more phases than originally planned. That’s no problem if you have enough unused phases to cover the difference, but if you don’t, you’ll need to pay for the extra phases.

If you request a replacement aligner instead of making one in your office, it will “break” one of your extra phases so it can only be used to make replacements. The shaded boxin the darker gray replacement phase above represents one replacement. The note above the shaded step indicates that it was used to replace step 2A.

Phase-based numbering

Wait a minute. Step 2A?

That’s right, we’re renumbering the aligners to make it more clear which phase they belong to. Instead of steps 13, 14, 15, and 16, you’ll get 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D.

No more mental calculations; you’ll always dispense A & B at the first appointment, and C & D at the second appointment—even after a midcourse correction.

Appointment instructions

Okay, we’re nearing the home stretch, folks. Remember those funny little symbols on the phase graph? Behold! All will be revealed.

First appointment

The sheet includes separate instructions for the first and second appointment of each phase. You’ll notice that each type of procedure is accompanied by a unique symbol:

  • Compliance Checkpoint A green teardrop represents Compliance Checkpoints.
    • When you see these, check for contact between the teeth with dental floss. If they’re not touching, your patient probably hasn’t been wearing their aligners 22 hours a day, and they might not be ready for the next step.
  • 0.2 mm IPR A red triangle represents IPR.
  • Add engager A blue square represents adding an engager
  • Remove engager A small black X represents removing an engager.
  • Extraction A large gray X represents extraction.

On the phase graph, these symbols indicate which procedures are being performed at each appointment. Now if you need to schedule more time for IPR or engagers, you’ll know in advance.

Tooth charts

On the tooth charts below the instructions, those same symbols give you an at-a-glance overview of where those procedures are being performed. If we know that a tooth is missing, we’ll delete it from the graph. The IPR triangles even change width to indicate whether you’re performing 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 millimeters of IPR.

There’s a chart for each step, but procedures will never be recommended on step B or D of a phase (because your patient starts those steps at home).

You can also quickly see which teeth are moving in each step—they’re highlighted in green

Tooth charts

The specific movements are listed below each graph:

Tooth movements

Epilogue

Well, I think that about does it. We covered the whole treatment plan, top to bottom. As you can see, there is a lot of information packed onto that one piece of paper. Hopefully, it will seem pretty straightforward when you start to receive the new paperwork in the next few weeks.

If you want to review this tech tip later, it will be available (like all our tips) right here on our blog. Of course, you can also always contact your account rep for assistance or feedback.

I think I'm going to go have a little lie-down. Until next week…

New patient interview

We've told you about a few recent interviews with ClearCorrect providers. Now we're adding patients to the mix. Meet Tom Kretzschmar:

Phase Out update: Little green men

Phase Out is just one month old, and already you've helped us give $10,700, which will help about 535 people gain access to clean and safe drinking water.

To help our whole company keep up with our progress, we decided to dedicate one of the walls outside our manufacturing area to the Phase Out project. Here's what it looks like after just one month of contributing leftover phases to charity: water.

That's 535 little green men already! And that's our success director, Sarah Bircher. Normally she talks to doctors and gets feedback on how we're doing as a company and what we can do better. She's still doing that full time, but she loved this idea so much, she volunteered to take a little time every week to update our wall.

We're all excited to see just how big this project can get. Keep checking back here and on our Phase Out page to track our progress. Oh, and if you just can't wait for a case to finish, or even if you're not a doctor and just want to see this movement grow, you can always go to our mycharity: water page and donate to this wonderful cause.

Sneak peek at Zendura® aligner material

ClearCorrect Trimming Kit

Here's something we can whole-heartedly endorse (and get financial compensation for): the ClearCorrect Trimming Kit.

For $90, the kit includes all the supplies you need to make your own replacement aligners in your office: 10 plastic sheets, a steel wheel saw, crown & bridge scissors, and 10 abrasive buff polishers.

Our kits have always included .030" sheets of Biocryl™ plastic. It works great. In fact, it's one of the best materials available for making aligners with a vacuum-former (the most common type of thermoforming machine in dental offices).

We've never talked much about the material we use ourselves here at ClearCorrect, and we've never offered it for sale. This is partly because it wasn't packaged for individual sale, and partly because it requires a more advanced pressure-forming machine such as the BioSTAR, MiniSTAR, Drufomat, or Drufosmart.

Today we can reveal that the material ClearCorrect uses to make our aligners (and retainers) is called Zendura®. It's an advanced polymer that was developed by Bay Materials specifically to balance the properties needed for clear aligners: strength, ductility, chemical resistance, clarity, and stress relaxation resistance. It's significantly more crack-resistant and stain-resistant than traditional PETG-based plastics. We believe that this is the most effective material ever developed for making clear aligners.

We're not offering Zendura for sale just yet, but we do have a limited supply of individually foil-wrapped samples available. If you have a pressure-forming machine, let us know when you order a Trimming Kit, and we'll include a free "sneak-peek" sample of this advanced material while supplies last. We'd love to hear how it works in your office.

You can contact your account rep to order at (888) 331-3323.

Phase Out update & limited edition boxes

The response to our Phase Out announcement last week has been really encouraging.

Some doctors have already started suggesting other charities we might want to add to the program. Thanks for all your feedback. We're starting with just charity: water for now, but we'll definitely take your suggestions into consideration as we expand the program in the future.

As you'll see at clearcorrect.com/phaseout, we started with a lump sum donation of $5,000 to make good on our Twitter campaign from last year.

We plan to make our first regular contribution very soon, and follow it up regularly as cases close with leftover phases. As a reminder, we don't close a case and donate the leftover phases until you request a retainer. So please be sure to call your account rep and let us know when your patient is done with treatment.

This is really cool: We've produced a special run of black & yellow aligner boxes, bags, and cases to promote our campaign to phase out unsafe drinking water. The colors were chosen to coordinate with our first partner, charity: water.

Phase Out limited edition packaging

On the bottom of each box, you'll find a brief summary of the Phase Out project. Inside each aligner case (included with Phase Zero), we're inserting cards designed to introduce the campaign to patients.

Hopefully, this campaign will give you an opportunity to explain to your patients how wearing their aligners at least 22 hours every day ensures the best results, which cuts down on the need for midcourse corrections, leaving more leftover phases for Phase Out.

Even if your patients don't end up with leftover phases, they (and you) can always help out by spreading the word or donating directly to charity: water through our mycharity: water profile.

A new year. A new project.

Five years ago, we started ClearCorrect out of a passion to help. Doctors had no choice in clear aligners, and we wanted to change that.

Since then, we've remained focused on changing the clear aligner industry.

Well, now our ambitions have grown.

I’m very happy to announce Phase Out, a new ClearCorrect project we’re kicking off this year.

The purpose of this project: To change the world.

We’ve created a special place on the Internet for Phase Out where you can learn all about it, stay updated, and get involved. Please check it out and let us know your thoughts.

This is something we’re excited and passionate about. We're just getting started, but we think it can be big. I hope you’ll share in our excitement and tell at least one person about what we’re doing. Together, we’ll help a lot of people.

Here's to a happy and giving New Year. 

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.