Choosing an Invisalign Provider
"Buyer beware" when choosing a dentist/orthodontist as your provider for Invisalign treatment. It is important to understand that Invisalign is a technique and not a product. "The Invisalign technique is more difficult to master than traditional braces..." Your results will differ depending on the skill and experience of your doctor. A doctor very skilled with traditional braces may not be technically proficient with Invisalign. Ask to see Before and After pictures of a doctor’s most difficult treated cases to get an indication of their skill....if they can’t show you any, they either do not have any successfully finished cases or their cases are so simple that the before and after change is negligible to see…in any event, R-U-N. Review Walton Orthodontics Invisalign Before and After pictures for comparison. To illustrate his proficiency with Invisalign, Dr. Walton posts many difficult and complex cases that might not necessarily be Invisalign candidates in other offices.
What does Certified Invisalign Provider actually mean. It does not mean anything other than a provider has taken a 6 hour course that trains them to log in to the Invisalign website and submit a patient case. It does not mean the provider is "certified" by any particular governing board…nor does it necessarily denote a provider has any experience, skill, or training whatsoever in the orthodontic movement of teeth. You ask: "How is this possible…the state of Georgia would not allow that?" The fact is, the State of Georgia does allow that….any dentist, whether they have training or not, can provide orthodontic treatment (Invisalign or braces) to their patients. Call the Georgia Board of Dentistry at 404–651–8000 to find out for yourself.
Also, beware of providers that show a series of "stock" Before and After pictures that are provided to them by Invisalign. See fake before-and-after pictures example #1, fake before-and-after pictures example #2, fake before-and-after pictures example #3.
It must be noted also, the cost of Invisalign treatment cannot be compared accurately, from office to office, because each doctor and office will produce a different result and smile. Therefore, a lower cost at one office may not necessarily be the best choice.
Last but not least, and in most instances, stay away from the general dentist wanting to treat your orthodontic problem with Invisalign. Dentists do not receive ANY specialty orthodontic training in dental school. Their Invisalign training is limited to a 1 day, 6 hour course. Please review the peer reviewed, scientific journal article proving the Inferior Quality of Orthodontic Treatment Performed by General Dentists. Don’t be the person who goes to their pediatrician for triple-bypass heart surgery…you might not be happy with the result.
What Do Invisalign Provider Designations Really Mean
Invisalign (“invisible braces”) is a very popular orthodontic treatment option today. If you are like me, you want the best possible treatment for both you and your children. Now the big question, "who are you going to choose to provide your treatment?" A good place to start is the Find An Invisalign Trained Doctor page at the official Invisalign site. The site attempts to guide potential patients to the “most experienced” providers, but does their classification of providers really benefit the consumer?
Providers are classified as: Preferred, Premiere, Premiere Elite, or Super Elite
For those seeking a provider, Invisalign’s classifications are deceptive. The qualifications are based solely on the quantity of cases submitted by each office…and no qualifications exist, whatsoever, related to the quality of the outcome.
If you attempt to do a web search to see what sets these classifications apart from each other, you will be hard pressed to find any information. Invisalign ranks the above designations from least to most “experience” (= Total cases submitted), respectively, but does not share the requirements needed to earn them.
Also, there exists no continuing education requirements for any of the classifications, in spite of popular beliefs to the contrary.
So why no mention of quality of results?
Align Technology’s (Parent company of Invisalign) PR firm stated, "Align provides prospective patients with information regarding Invisalign product experience. It is not a comment on or evaluation of clinical competency, which Align defers to the state licensing boards and to the profession to determine, as clinical standards of care are not within Align’s purview or authority."
In other words, Align does not evaluate the quality of treatment outcome in assigning provider designations.
Also noteworthy, as the Invisalign site states, "the order of appearance of an Invisalign Provider [listed on "Find a Doctor" search page] using a ZIP code or address search reflects the historical number of Invisalign cases a provider has submitted [and your] geographic proximity [to the closest doctor]…The doctor list is not exhaustive, and there may be other Invisalign-trained dentists or orthodontists in your ZIP code or area." Therefore, large practices (who generally submit more cases than smaller practices) definitely have the advantage of getting more patients referred to them through the Invisalign Find A Doctor website.
Translation: Provider designations, listed above, are given out by Align Technology to those providers who sell the most product (submit the most cases). As payback, Align Technology will promote its "Top Sellers" more heavily on their website as being “Most Experienced” providers with Elite and Super Elite status. This is the quid pro quo of doing business with Invisalign. It does not necessarily denote expertise or successful outcomes. Take notice that most "Elite" and "Super Elite" providers come from very large, multi-office and multi-doctor practices where all cases can be “pooled” under a single practice/doctor name.
What is Dr. Walton’s Invisalign Provider Designation?
Walton Orthodontics is a one doctor, one location practice. The practice treats anywhere from 40–60 Invisalign cases a year. With that volume, Dr. Walton’s Invisalign provider designation will hover between Premiere and Preferred status…the baseline to achieve Premier status is 50 cases/year. As a result, his name will not be at the top of the Provider listings.
The baseline to achieve “Elite” status is 100 cases per year. One will note, that most, if not all, Elite providers, in any given area, will have multiple office locations and multiple doctors. Therefore, Dr. Walton would more than qualify for Elite status if he had the desire to have multiple offices. However, high volume and multiple offices does not allow the attention to detail and quality that Dr Walton demands. His focus is on superior service, high-quality treatment and results in a concierge-style practice.
It is evident that quality results are important to Dr. Walton, just look at the breadth of cases he presents in his Before and After Invisalign Pictures and Braces Pictures galleries on this website. Compare his cases with anyone else’s in the entire U.S. You may have observed that most practice websites will not display before and after pictures of their treated cases, especially Invisalign. One has has to ask, Why is this…? Do they have cases good enough to show? Maybe they don’t have any well treated cases or maybe they don’t have well treated complex cases. One has to ask...