In the world of dentistry, advancements in technology have made it easier for dental practices to offer in-office aligners to their patients. In-office aligners not only reduce costs, but also provide the convenience of same-day revisions and faster treatment plans. In this blog, we take Dr. Rick Ferguson’s discussion on how to make aligners more profitable for dental practices.
Dr. Rick Ferguson is a general dentist and the lead of the implant training program at the University of Florida. With 16 years of experience, he has his own private practice in Davie, Florida where he and his wife, Dr. Katherine Ferguson, use all the latest digital technology to perform every aspect of dentistry.
In 2018, Dr. Ferguson published a noteworthy article in Dental Economics, highlighting the advent of 3D printing in dental offices and the advantages it brings. He emphasized the cost savings and convenience of in-office aligners.
To further the discussion on this topic, Dr. Ferguson is the owner of Dental 3D Printing Group on Facebook. This group is followed by over 22K dental professionals and is dedicated to exploring all aspects of 3D printing in dentistry.
Navigating the Aligner Market
Many companies are now providing low-cost D2C aligners, making it hard for dentists to compete.
These companies even file for insurance coverage for these procedures and the insurance companies seem to have gotten on board with the do-it-yourself trend. “They (aligner companies) talk about using flexible spending accounts as well so they can access these funds for the patient. Patients don’t know what they’re getting into by taking on this responsibility basically on their own.” Dr. Ferguson says.
To compete, dentists are now opting to fabricate their aligners in-house. He continues, “Doing aligners in-office has several advantages such as cost savings, convenience and control. We started off doing our own treatment planning but now, most of the people that we’ve trained outsource the treatment planning and get the models to fabricate aligners.”
The Benefits of In-Office Aligners
Cost Savings: By doing aligners in-office, practices can reduce costs by at least half
Convenience: With in-office aligners, patients can get their cases started as soon as the next day, and replacements can be made the same day if a patient loses or breaks an aligner.
Control: Doing in-office aligners allows practices to have control over the treatment plan and revisions, which can be done in days, not weeks.
When it comes to treatment planning, practices have complete control over the process when they produce aligners in-office.
However, many practices choose to outsource the treatment planning aspect of the process and simply print the model to make the aligners, which can be a more efficient option for many dentists.
Starting With In-Office Aligners
While producing aligners in-office can be a cost-effective solution for dental practices, it requires a certain level of investment in terms of technology and training.
Dentists need to have access to 3D printers, scanners, software, as well as the skills and knowledge to operate them effectively. Furthermore, they need to be able to perform treatment planning and have the software to support it.
If you’re interested in offering in-office aligners to your patients, consider these steps to make it more profitable:
Obtain training from a reputable aligner manufacturer or course provider.
Invest in the necessary equipment and materials, such as a vacuum former, aligner material, and printing materials.
Develop a workflow for case selection, treatment planning, and fabrication.
Set up a dedicated aligner lab or workspace within your office.
Establish a system for tracking patient cases, including patient consent and release forms, case progression, and case completion.
Partner with a trusted dental company like Evident, to receive support and technical assistance as needed.
Market your in-office aligner fabrication services to your existing patient base and to prospective patients in your local area.
Continuously evaluate and improve your processes and procedures to ensure the best possible outcomes for your patients.
To wrap it all up, offering in-office aligners can be a profitable addition to your dental practice. By investing in the right technology, outsourcing the treatment planning, keeping the models in-house, and offering same-day revisions, you can provide a convenient and cost-effective option for your patients.
To ease into in-office aligner production, outsourcing treatment planning to Evident is a great option. Evident provides support and structure throughout the treatment process via the Hub case ordering platform. Evident can also manufacture the aligners for you. Find out more on evidentdigital.com
Get more in-depth with the conversation and listen to the full webinar here.