Deceptive or false advertising runs rampant with Invisalign. More than a product, Invisalign is an orthodontic technique for moving teeth. It is the most challenging orthodontic technique to master but it is the easiest system to incorporate into a dental practice, for it requires no expensive equipment and it requires absolutely no orthodontic tooth moving knowledge or experience. Therefore, one can probably find Invisalign being offered at any dental office they contact. This page will point out several areas to focus on to help direct you through all the “bull” out there so you can make better and informed decisions about your Invisalign (and braces for that matter) treatment options.
Invisalign awards the above respective titles to providers solely based upon the total number of patients they have sold Invisalign to. This is misleading because Invisalign uses these provider ratings to infer “quality” by substituting "experience" to be equivalent to "quantity". Top 1% and Elite providers are, therefore, marketed to be “most experienced” only because they have sold the most Invisalign treatments but it does not represent a certain level of quality of results or skill they have achieved. Please take note that most Top 1% and Elite providers represent large multi-office and/or multi-doctor offices which by common sense will have larger volumes. As a quid pro quo or reward for high sales volume, Invisalign lists these offices first on their Find A Doctor website page which gives these providers the advantage of getting more referrals.
Recommendation With Invisalign, it’s quality results that matter, not quantity. McDonald’s sells the most hamburgers…but do they have the best hamburger? To evaluate a provider’s results, look at their website’s patient before and after photos (if you can find them) and compare smiles or ask the provider to show you pictures of before and after cases similar to yours. If they don’t have any to show you, I would get another opinion.
Unfortunately many orthodontic and dental websites out there use stock before-and-after pictures that are not their own. For example, see fake before-and-after pictures example #1, fake before-and-after pictures example #2. For marketing purposes, Invisalign offers providers the use of a gallery of pre-treated before-and-after pictures to use in their websites.
Walton Orthodontics uses only actual patients for their before-and-after picture galleries.
Today, more and more dental practices are marketing orthodontic services in the form of Invisalign or braces. For many people this can cause some confusion because the assumption is the doctor is an orthodontic specialist or has advanced training in the orthodontic movement of teeth because they say they provide orthodontics. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the state of Georgia, it is legal for any licensed dentist to provide orthodontic services to their patients, irregardless of whether they are a specialist or not and irregardless of whether they have any orthodontic tooth movement training whatsoever. Translation: Just because your dentist offers you Invisalign to straighten your teeth …don’t assume they have the training or the ability to do so. There is absolutely no requirement for a certified Invisalign Provider to have any orthodontic tooth movement training or knowledge, whatsoever. The easiest way to tell an orthodontic specialist from a non-specialist is the specialist must limit their practice to orthodontics only. If a doctor offers cleanings, fillings, crowns, etc as well as orthodontics, the doctor is not a specialist. An orthodontic specialist has an advanced degree from an accredited university residency program which consists of 2–3 years of additional full-time instruction beyond the 4 years of dental school training, where dental students receive absolutely no specialty orthodontic instruction.
Recommedation If your dentist recommends Invialign to you ask them what the difference would be if they were to straighten your teeth with braces. If they don’t do braces, they don’t have the ability to offer you another option because Invisalign may not, therefore, be the BEST option for you.
Invisalign is very easy to incorporate into a dental practice (non-orthodontic specialist office) since there are no upfront costs and there is no formal orthodontic knowledge required to use the system (see Certified Invisalign Provider above). One can find display ads posted all over the internet advertising Invisalign to generate calls to their respective practices. However, most of these offices, in actuality, do very few, if any, Invisalign treatments. Patients interested in Invisalign treatment are simply told they are not candidates and are recommended veneers or other treatments.
Low Invisalign cost advertisements require some scrutiny to avoid making a big mistake in your treatment. Invisalign offers providers several product options to use, all with different price points. The low cost options are Invisalign Express 5 and Invisalign Express 10, which are designed only for the most simple teeth alignment issues and are limited to 5 sets of aligners and 10 sets of aligners, respectively. Most people will not qualify for these two options but they will be advertised at very low prices ($1500-$3500 range) to get you into the office. Once in the office, the patient will not qualify for the low cost limited treatment and, more than likely, require the Invisalign Full treatment option (unlimited number of aligners) which will have a higher price point ($4500-$6500) or some other treatment (see above).
Recommendation When you see a “too good to be true” Invisalign price, call the office and ask whether the Invisalign being advertised is Invisalign Full or Invisalign Express (or some other non-Invisalign aligner product).
Beware of clear aligner products offered by other companies that claim to be “just like” Invisalign. Invisalign was developed in 1999 and the technology has been continuously improved upon year after year. As each year passes, some of Invisalign’s old technology patents expire and become available for other companies to use. Understand that these expired patents are old technology that Invisalign does not use anymore. There are several “fake” Invisalign products available offered by other companies…the clear aligner treatments they offer utilize out-of-date technology and therefore have lower price points and limited effectiveness. Below are listed some of the most common:
- MTM Clear Aligners - no attachments used so limited to very minor issues (hence the name MTM = minor tooth movement)
- Red, White and Blue - limited to 3 sets of Aligners
- Crystal Braces - Do-it-yourself aligners at-home, relatively cheap price…Orthodontist not included
- SmileCare Club - Do-it-yourself aligners at-home, relatively cheap price…Good Luck with this one
Wall Street venture capitalists have become a presence more and more in the dental field. Corporate entities have begun buying up practices all over the place. Some of these transactions can deceive the general public, in that, they may retain the name of the private practice with the doctor demoted to an employee figurehead with “no-say” in day to day practice operations. The dis-advantages of corporate ownership are the corporate owners are usually not dentists and their motives are geared more to maximizing profits rather than providing what’s best for the patient. In larger practices, patients will not usually see the same doctor visit to visit which is a big negative if you are undergoing Invisalign or other orthodontic treatment. Patients lose continuity of treatment and technical excellence when doctors have different levels of technical ability in mult-doctor practices.
Recommendation Ask the office staff if the practice is owned by the doctor or someone else. This will give you an idea on whether your best interests may be compromised by monthly production quotas.