Clear aligner therapy continues to be one of the fastest growing and potentially most profitable areas of general dentistry, yet many practices still do not offer treatment to their patients or dabble with just a handful of cases a year. Specialist orthodontist Geoff Hall, well known as a clinical educator through the The OrthoED Institute and Dr Jesse Green, a general dentist who trains dentists in practice management skills under the Savvy Dentist brand, have now teamed up to help dentists who want to offer aligner treatment take it to the next level.
Their new venture, Clear Aligner Excellence, offers general dentists all the support they need together with significant discounts from leading aligner manufacturers. We caught up with Geoff and Jesse to hear how it all works.
Clear Aligner Excellence is a service to help dentists treat more patients with clear aligners? How does it work?
JESSE: Clear aligners represent a massive opportunity for the dental practice on a couple of different levels. This includes helping the dentist do work that's interesting and stimulating and creates beautiful smiles for patients. But it also represents a commercial opportunity for the practice as well. And we know from various research, the aligner market is going to grow 29% over the next six years. It's already a big market, so an extra 30% - give or take - is going to be a big uplift.
What we also know is that in spite of the current and the projected opportunity, there are three big hurdles for dentists to overcome in order to embrace aligner therapy and to successfully integrate it into their practice.
The first hurdle is that dentists have to feel confident and competent in their ability to be able to identify appropriate clear aligner cases, treatment plan those cases and deliver the treatment to a really high standard so that they're doing great work.
The second big hurdle that dentists encounter is how do I do this in a commercially successful way? If they do a case here and there, they never really make the commercial case work well. The economics just don't work.
The final hurdle that stops dentists from fully integrating clear aligners into their practice is the cost of the aligners themselves. The lab fees from the aligner companies are very steep which erodes profit margins and thus erodes people's willingness to do these cases.
What Clear Aligner Excellence is designed to do is to provide an end-to-end solution to help dentists overcome all three hurdles with a turnkey operation for aligner therapy in their practice. We do that by giving them the clinical expertise and the clinical confidence. Geoff is Australia's leading trainer of orthodontic services for general dentists in the country and is incredibly well respected as an innovator in clear aligner orthodontics. We have tapped into his expertise to create the Aligner Education Program to help people understand aligners, how to treatment plan and how to deliver care to a really high standard.
Next, we help dentists integrate aligners into their practice commercially using my knowledge from the practice management space to launch the Aligner Business Program. This system will focus on best practices in marketing, case presentation and workflow optimisation so that we can drastically increase case presentations and case acceptance and in turn, increase new case starts. And the best part is that the techniques in this program can be applied to almost any elective procedure – not just clear aligners.
Finally, we have created an Exclusive Buying Group that offers tremendous discounts with the seven major aligner companies that includes Invisalign, SureSmile, Spark, SmileStyler, AngelAlign, ClearCorrect and Trio. Depending on the aligner company being used, our Network Providers can enjoy discounts of as much as $900 per case on their lab fees. Plus, we also have discounts from ancillary dental companies to include Dental Monitoring, Geoff's treatment planning service, whitening products and many others.
The way it works is that the practice becomes a Clear Aligner Excellence Network Provider for which they pay a nominal subscription fee. If the practice is already doing one case a month, which is a very low bar, their savings on the lab fees alone cover that subscription. Then they also gain access to all the clinical and business education.
We have really tried to make this a true turnkey solution that is a total no brainer.
GEOFF: Just to go one step further from what Jesse said, we're also partnering with other companies that will help them in their conversion and increase their clear aligner growth. For example, we're partnering with Openpay, so rather than patients having to pay the traditional 25% deposit, there will be 10% deposit as well as no-deposit options and the doctor can get their money up front as well, with lower transaction fees.
What we've attempted to do with Clear Aligner Excellence is to take away every possible hurdle for doctors not to convert patients. The average general dentist is currently starting about one new aligner case a month - if they're doing aligners at all. We want to take them from that one case a month to four cases a month. And that will give them an immediate saving of over $3,000 a month just off the aligner lab fees.
And these extra cases that they're going to feel more confident in doing, they will find these in their own backyard, they just don't know how to sell the case or how to market it to their existing patients. We believe that and we've done trials on this showing that the average general dentist could increase his or her profit by over $270,000 per year.
The other part to it is that it's a very scalable because the bulk of the ongoing treatment can be delegated to an hygienist or an oral health therapist.
The key to great aligner outcomes is getting the diagnosis and treatment plan right the first time. After that, the clinical part of it is absolutely minimal - it's just bonding a bit of composite on, doing a little bit of IPR and making sure the aligner is set each visit. That's it. It's a no-brainer clinically. It's the upfront diagnosis that takes the most skill and experience which develops over time.
The Aligner Education Program provides our Network Providers with the training needed for those great outcomes and if the doctor wants, we also have a treatment planning service in the background where I can do the treatment plan for them with the end result being the same as if the patient came to my specialist orthodontic practice.
JESSE: Clear Aligner Excellence is really designed to be a wholly integrated end-to-end solution for the general dentist. We want to help them go from one case a month to one case a week. Or in other words, four cases a month. We find a lot of people dabble in clear aligner treatment but never really master it so what we've created here is a turnkey process to address this.
What are the mechanics of how it works from the perspective of a dentist if I'm doing one case a month and I want to do more. What happens?
JESSE: First, our Network Providers will go through an onboarding and welcome process. Then they will have access to our 8-week Aligner Education Program which includes Geoff's clinical training and the Aligner Business Program which includes my business training. After that point, there will be ongoing clinical and practice development education available from our international faculty of experts. Some of the biggest names in aligner therapy from around the world - the people who are on the cutting edge of aligner therapy - are on our clinical faculty.
We're also going to be connecting Network Providers with the aligner companies so that they can start accessing their discounts immediately. I will also add them to our directory of Clear Aligner Experience accredited doctors which will be used for doing outbound marketing to drive patients - and cases - to their practices.
Although, as Geoff rightly pointed out, most dentists already have a million diamonds in their own backyard - they just need to bend down and pick them up. That's why most of the cases a dentist will treat are already in their patient database. What we're going to be doing is making sure that, as they go through their experience with us, our customer success team are going to be partnering with each Network Provider to set them up for success by directing them to resources and training and helping them get what they need done. Because what we find is, it's all well and good to give people access to training, systems and discounts, our job, our goal is to hold their hand and help them integrate all of these into their practices.
GEOFF: The other important consideration is that dentists have to realise they can use any aligner system they want. And like Jesse said we have the seven biggest aligner companies who have all come on board because they want to increase this aligner pie. We are agnostic with regards to what system they want to use and our Network Providers are not stuck with one particular system.
JESSE: What we've tried to do is put everything that a general dentist would need to successfully integrate aligner therapy into their practice in one place. It an end-to-end solution that perfectly responds to the hurdles general dentists face when trying to introduce and grow clear aligner therapy in their practices.