“Confidence breeds success”
Mr Gerard Boon Tandarts (ACTA) qualified from the University of Amsterdam in 1988 and worked in General Practice as a part-time clinical assistant in Orthodontics from 1989, with Orthodontics becoming his sole focus from 1993. In all that time he had treated just 37 patients with Invisalign.
This month alone Gerard started seven Invisalign cases. So what changed? He has just completed a new post-graduate qualification for Orthodontists; European Masters of Aligners (EUMAA). He also asserts that he is confidently anticipating starting 20 further Invisalign cases during his first year after graduation (a staggering increase of 1,333 per cent).
Before starting his EUMAA qualification Gerard had a number of reservations about Invisalign, but was increasingly placed in a dilemma, with more patients demanding the clear aligner treatment. On several occasions he conceded, but was very conservative about the outcome, just saying that he would, “Try but couldn’t guarantee any major improvements”. In Gerard’s view, the product results did not achieve the wow factor and were not worth the commitment. The technical and clinical support was available from Align, but initially he did not want to admit he needed help. All in all, it was an initial struggle for him. In that time, most of the Invisalign cases he undertook were simple, with only five per cent of a more complex nature.
However, over the years, Gerard came across an increasing number of his peers at conferences who raved about how the Invisalign technology had evolved, discussed new exciting clinical findings and explained how the system was now on an equal footing with traditional braces, offering so many more treatment options. Gerard thought these doctors had “gone crazy”, as his personal experience was profoundly different; he didn’t feel in control of the system and had to “hope for the best” most of the time.
This was food for thought as these “crazy professionals” were high profile doctors who were respected in the profession and wouldn’t support a treatment modality without considerable tangible evidence and results.
His perceptions were further challenged when his practice, Angle House Orthodontics, took delivery of an iTero digital scanning system, at which point Gerard challenged himself to give Invisalign another go. To do so however, he knew he had to learn to use the system in a far more in-depth manner in order to appreciate its capabilities and emulate his peers.
Gerard therefore enrolled on the first European Masters of Aligners (EUMAA) course in the UK run by Dr Raman Aulakh. This was a true eye-opener for him. He found that the interaction with like-minded professionals was “exhilarating”. Several of the course participants came from other countries with a variety of levels of experience, which added depth to the discussion when they were reviewing their respective cases. This, combined with Raman’s elevated experience and down to earth, tangible teaching style proved to be a turning point for him.
Gerard said, “The course showed me just how much the Invisalign system has changed and matured. You can now be so much more involved with it compared with its original incarnation, on which I had based my opinion. I now feel that I am in the driver’s seat in full control of the system which I can tweak at my convenience thanks to the considerable flexibility it confers on the treatment provider. During the EUMAA course I was pleasantly surprised to see how some cases beautifully responded to Invisalign. I was mistaken to put Invisalign at the bottom of the list as the system which should only be limited to treating simple cases; it can most certainly be extended to complex cases. Plus, the system is so much more enjoyable than poking wires – both for me and the patient!”
As for the iTero scanning system, Gerard has become a staunch advocate, calling it, “incredibly powerful diagnostic and marketing tool”. Since its arrival in practice, the acceptance rate of his Invisalign treatment plans has risen dramatically as patients instantly know what they are aiming for. The scanner has become an essential tool in the practice and in his opinion, should have been introduced a long time ago. It was certainly the catalyst for his transformation.
Gerard admits that he is now one of orthodontists who enthusiastically talks about the amazing range of treatment options that Invisalign provides. He now wholeheartedly welcomes patients who ask for Invisalign, and no longer feels he is backed into a corner. The EUMAA course has given him the confidence to advocate the system for the widest number of cases including teens.
Gerard said, “The EUMAA course admittedly comes at a price, but after a few cases it is paid for. Plus, the more you work with Invisalign, the more confident you become, which means that you can treat so many more complex cases. In terms of content, it makes you think outside the box and challenges the ways you have always worked. However, you are never alone, as the support system is great and Raman always goes the extra mile to help out. The course gives you tips about what you need to look at, how and why you should use the network of technical advisors and how to work with all the latest Invisalign features. It also, and essentially in my opinion, teaches you how to communicate with everyone to get the best out of the system. Some people have never spoken with clinical advisors when they should be embracing this help wholeheartedly.”
Gerard believes that Align Technology offers a strong and reliable support platform, with resources to back it up, which should be tapped into whenever required. As for changes within the practice which need to be implemented with Invisalign in mind, these are subtle. Decisions about the work flow need to be mapped out; who scans (if you have an iTero), who communicates with patients, and so on, but they are easy to address and actually make working with the system much easier and more profitable.
Gerard’s advice is to “Bite the bullet and get on with it.” Fellow Orthodontists should not wait for the “perfect” Invisalign case as they won’t be ready to treat it when it does. Dr Raman Aulakh, the EUMAA course director agrees, “Confidence breeds success – both clinically, and from a business perspective. Our delegates have corroborated this with an average of 15 Invisalign case starts in the first year which provides a tangible and fast return on their investment.”
The next EUMAA course for Orthodontists is scheduled to start on 8th, 9th and 10th March 2018 with the first day at London’s LonDEC, in the Skills Lab. For more details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07879 443 720.