Gerard Boon Tandarts has become a staunch Invisalign convert, he explains why
Mr Gerard Boon Tandarts (ACTA) (above, near the back of group, wearing blue shirt and glasses) qualified from the University of Amsterdam in 1988 and worked in general practice as a part-time clinical assistant in orthodontics from 1989. Orthodontics became his sole focus from 1993. In all that time he had treated just 37 patients with Invisalign.
This month alone Gerard has started seven Invisalign cases, so what changed? He has just completed a new post-graduate qualification for orthodontists; European Masters of Aligners (EUMAA). He is now confidently anticipating starting 20 Invisalign cases during his first year after graduation.
Before starting his EUMAA course Gerard had a number of reservations regarding Invisalign, but ever more patients were demanding the clear aligner treatment. On several occasions he conceded, but was very conservative about the outcome, 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, nor were they worth the commitment. The technical and clinical support may have been available from Align, but one had to be humble enough to admit one needed help. Most of the Invisalign cases he undertook were simple, with only 5% of a more complex nature.
Gerard ran into an increasing number of his peers at conferences who raved about how 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’s personal experience was profoundly different. He didn’t feel in control of the system and found himself “hoping for the best” most of the time.
However, these “peers” were high profile doctors, respected in the profession, and he knew they wouldn’t support a treatment modality without tangible evidence and outstanding results. It was food for thought.
And then his practice, Angle House Orthodontics, took delivery of an iTero digital scanning system and Gerard decided to give Invisalign another go. But first he decided to discover how to use the system in a much more in-depth way to get the full benefit.
Gerard enrolled on the first EUMAA course in the UK run by Dr Raman Aulakh (above) which proved a true eye-opener for him. He found the interaction with like-minded professionals to be “exhilarating”, and several course participants came from other countries, bringing with them a breadth of experience that added depth to discussions during case reviews.
This, combined with Raman’s insights and his down-to-earth and distinctive teaching style proved to be a turning point for Gerard.
He 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 of this “incredibly powerful diagnostic and marketing tool”. Since its arrival in practice, the acceptance rate for Invisalign treatment plans has risen dramatically because patients can see 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 the enthusiastic people who talk about Invisalign’s “amazing” range of treatment options. He welcomes patients who ask for clear aligners, and no longer feels he has been backed into a corner. The EUMAA course has given him the confidence to advocate the system for the widest number of cases – including teens.
He enthused: “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. The support system is great and Raman always goes that extra mile to help out. The course provides 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 the help is there and everyone should embrace it wholeheartedly.”
Subtle changes within the practice are required with Invisalign in mind. Decisions about the workflow need to be mapped out: who scans (if you have an iTero), who communicates with patients, and so on. But these are easy to address and actually make working with the system much easier and more profitable.
So Gerard’s advice is: “Bite the bullet and get on with it.” He believes his fellow orthodontists should not wait for the “perfect” Invisalign case because they won’t be ready to treat it when it does. Dr Aulakh 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 its Skills Lab.