When I started carrying out Invisalign there was only 1 product, Invisalign full. This product allowed me to treat full arch cases from simple to complex malocclusions.
I started off in at the deep end and some of my earlier cases were very challenging with some up to 40 + aligners.
Invisalign full was like doing an apprenticeship for 2 years.
I was learning slowly and as cases progressed that Invisalign can treat most ortho cases but planning is the key.
Align Technology, the parent company of Invisalign, then brought out Invisalign anterior/express and even lite.
Some of these products only provided 14 aligners and with no refienements.
Now with these limited products, you can only treat limited cases.
If 1 tooth is out of line then there is usually crowding at the back of the arch and I prefer to create space at the back to get that 1 tooth in line.
But with the cheaper products Invisalign Lite etc. this was not possible.
So what did dentists do?
They would treat a moderately complex case, by ignoring or failing to treat the back of the arch and just strip the enamel between the front teeth.
Enamel stripping can be done if the teeth are aligned in a straight line at the front ( then why would you need ortho? ) and usually to help reduce triangular spaces between teeth at the end.
But when teeth are crowded and or overlapped, then enamel stripping is difficult as there is no straight line to follow.
So some patients end up with sort of straight teeth, with enamel and tooth corners missing or misshapen teeth.
What has this got to do with Groupon?
Well Groupon allows dentists to advertise their Invisalign fees at firstly a reduced fee, and then Groupon take a 30-40% CUT.
We charge £3500 + but if a dentist charges £1900 on Groupon, then after Groupons cut the dentist is really charging £1200?
Now if Invisalign full costs more than this to the dentist then is the dentist working for nothing? NO. The dentist is probably using Invisalign Lite and is probably earning £500 per case.
Now would you want your teeth straightened by a dentist that earns just 25% of the normal fee?
Exactly how much service, planning and treatment do you get at 75% discount?
Well there have been a lot of patients signing up to Groupon.
With the special offer the prospective client/patient has to pay the whole fee upfront without even seeing the dentist.
The dentist then meets up with the patient on a specific day.
Now because the dentist is overwhelmed by bargain hunters, he/she does not have a lot of time to explain to each patient all about their teeth, options, fixed V Invisalign, will Invisalign be suitable etc.
What should take about 1 hour ends up as 15 minutes or less.
That surely is not in the best interests of the patient.
Groupon is ok for a night out or a massage but surely not for complex life changing treatment.
We see a lot of consultations and some of the patients have told us what they experienced with Groupon dentists:
1 5 minute consults
2 no examination of the crowding
3 money upfront without even seeing the dentist
4 limited appointments limited movement
5 no follow ups
6 incomplete treatment
7 damaged teeth
8 gaps left open as the back teeth were left untreated etc.
Now Align Technology has been forced to distance themselves from Groupon and is actively declining to provide product to these dentists.
Finally after many complaints from patients and dentists, Invisalign is again being provided by ethical and caring dentists.
Moral: never have body procedures at massive discounts on social coupon sites such as Groupon, Qype, Living Social etc.