“What No One Told Me About Aligner Treatments”

What Care Providers Can Learn from Patient Testimonials Online

Patients will reach out to their dentists to inquire about orthodontic aligners, but they will also hear about the treatment from family or friends. If they don’t know anyone who has worn aligners, they may turn to the internet, where there are countless “My Invisalign Experience” videos and blogs that patients have posted online, (many of which use “Invisalign” as a catch-all term for other brands of aligners).

If you watch these videos or read these blogs, you may wonder who all these care providers are that don’t tell their patients some of the most basic information about aligner treatments! It may also be possible, however, that after hundreds or thousands of clear aligner cases, our case presentation approach needs regular review and a greater emphasis on process expectations. Being thorough about sharing the realities of clear aligner treatments can help us ensure that our patients get the best experience possible.

What Patients Share in Public Forums

For this post, we watched or read 22 videos or blogs from independent bloggers who did not represent a particular aligner brand. Their goal was to share the realities of aligner treatments to help anyone who is considering starting a course of treatment. The common threads among all these individuals include the following issues.

Pain and Sensitivity

Almost every “what they didn’t tell me” testimonial mentioned being surprised by the level of pain they experienced in the first 2-3 days of treatment. Beyond the general ache caused by the movement of the teeth, several patients spoke about the sharp edges of the aligners cutting into the soft tissue of the mouth. None of these individuals mentioned asking their care-provider to help with this problem. Some attempted to file down the edges of their aligners, with varying levels of success.

What You Can Do: As a provider, you may want to explain to patients that “new tray day” is often as traumatic to the teeth as “wire-tightening day” with traditional braces. If a patient is seeking out aligner treatments because they believe them to be less painful than braces, they may be in for a rude awakening after they have already invested their money in the treatment.

Beyond that, many providers will happily file down any sharp edges on the aligners if a patient contacts the office and asks. Mentioning this service to your patients before treatment might spare your patients’ gums and lips a great deal of trauma.

Difficulty Removing Aligners

Several patients were surprised by how difficult it was to remove aligners, especially in the first few days of each set. Many recounted elaborate struggles to remove aligners and a steep, unexpected learning curve. More than one patient recounted their trays “filling up with blood,” in the struggle to put them in properly.

What You Can Do: Explain to your patients that removing the aligners may require the use of a special tool, and that they may need to plan extra time in their schedule to remove them. You may also wish to provide guidance in how to plan meals and wear-time to minimize taking the aligners out and putting them back in more often than necessary.

Planning Meals and Hygiene

Every blogger mentioned the challenges of changing their eating habits to accommodate the daily required wear time. Several individuals mentioned that even though their dentist had explained the realities of meal planning, they were still unprepared for the significant changes to their routines. Many patients spoke of how smelly and “icky” the aligners get if you skip any step of the recommended hygiene regimen, which seemed to provide incentive for following recommended hygiene practices.

What You Can Do: If you don’t already talk a prospective aligner patient through an average day of wearing aligners–explaining every step of hygiene and the timing of meals and snacks–this practice can help patients decide if they are willing to commit to the treatment. This seems to be the most significant change to a patient’s routine, and should be covered during case presentation.

Other Miscellaneous Concerns

A few patients spoke to the fact that they could no longer wear lipstick or kiss their spouse when wearing the aligners, and several were surprised by the challenges of having attachments on their teeth. A few mentioned the challenges of overcoming an aligner-induced lisp, while others did not experience any changes to their speech.

A few savvy patients took the time to explain to their viewers/readers that the same brand of treatment can vary in costs, based on which dentist you use. A certain patient from North Carolina recounted going to five different dentists before choosing the most cost-effective option, which saved her approximately $4500 on her orthodontic treatment.

A Telling Detail

As mentioned earlier, many patient testimonials referred to their treatment as “Invisalign,” even if their aligners came from ClearCorrect or Smile Club Direct. This shows that patients, as a whole, are not as aware of the different levels of quality and that different providers are seen as interchangeable. More patients are turning to less-expensive options and will seek out the option they can afford.

If you would like to offer your patients an alternative to Invisalign with a solid foundation of scientific study backing its efficacy and safety, visit www.Orthosnap.com to learn about our aligner system. Orthosnap aligners are fabricated with a moveable molding system that creates a better-fitting aligner and can treat more complex cases than the 3D printed aligners everyone else offers. The process also happens to reduce patient costs up to 30 percent. To learn more about Orthosnap, contact inventor Yan Pogorelsky at yan@orthosnap.com.

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