How to get started
If you're reading this article, you're probably trying to gain the knowledge needed to provide clear aligners safely. You're also likely wondering how to feel confident and empowered to start.
If the above sounds like you, you’re in the right place. We’re 32Co, a clear aligner platform - but one thing that makes us different is that we provide comprehensive training for free.
If you’ve never provided aligners before, join the 32Co Starter Course. We’ll run you through everything you need to know, with live webinars, training and assessments, over 4 weeks. It’s very popular 😁
We’ve trained hundreds of dentists to start providing clear aligners confidently with 32Co, or level up their existing skills. This article outlines the general workflow you’ll undertake with your first patient. Let’s dive in!
Smile evaluation - 15 minutes
This is a quick assessment to scope out your patient’s suitability for clear aligners. It’s your job to help a patient understand what they don’t like about their smile, and how you can help.
This appointment is all about the patient - they are trusting you to change how they fundamentally look.
- What do they want to improve?
- And why now?
Often a wedding, significant birthday or other life event provides the impetus for a new smile, and gives you a date to aim for.
Once you know what your patient needs, it's time to tell them about clear aligners and how it works. Use the same words they used when talking about their issues and explain how the treatment can help. You must be clear about what the clear aligners can do so you can get proper consent.
Records appointment - 30-60 minutes
This is where you’ll complete a comprehensive assessment to create the best treatment plan for your patient.
It’s also critical for understanding the case’s complexity. You’re collecting valuable clinical data which helps you understand what you are treating, and covers you dento-legally. Once you have an idea of case complexity and your confidence to treat it, 32Co has unique options for you: you can work directly with a specialist orthodontist to plan the case, or do it yourself with a technician.
You’ll charge your patient for this appointment. Whilst the smile evaluation is often free, this is an in-depth appointment. This is the patient’s commitment to treatment, and the first stage of the process.
Treatment review and consent - 15 minutes
This is where you’ll show your patient their new smile, and explain their treatment plan. At this point, you’ll discuss the exact timeframe and confirm their expectations.
At 32Co, we’ve built a personalised patient proposal tool so you can send all the info your patient needs in one click - you can send this over to them as soon as you receive it 💫
In the appointment, explain the benefits and limitations of treatment to prevent any confusion or disappointment down the line. The patient’s concerns are the most important thing - even if you’ve followed the treatment plan perfectly, they won’t be happy if that plan doesn’t resolve their issue.
Consent will be signed at this stage. You’ll set payment up for the rest of treatment in order to allow the process to run smoothly. This may include a financing option.
Finally, you’ll order your patient’s aligners to be sent to the practice.
Fitting - 45-60 minutes
Once you’ve received the aligners, you’ll invite your patient back into practice to fit them.
They will likely be excited to get started🤩🎉!
While you’re focused on getting your equipment in order and focusing on where and how you’ll do your IPR, remember that this is the start of your journey together- make it a positive one!
This appointment may consist of inter-proximal reduction [IPR], attachments on teeth and fitting the aligners to make sure they are comfortable for the patient.
Do not rush this appointment.
Providing IPR can be a tiring process that can sometimes be split across multiple appointments, however, it must be done to completion. Too little IPR will result in sub-optimal treatment outcomes - so make sure you explain the steps to your patient and allow plenty of time to complete it.
Additionally, you will be fitting your attachments. Make sure you check the attachment template and you should be aware of where all the attachments will be before the patient enters the surgery. Your nurse should be on hand to assist and help you complete treatment efficiently.
Once fitted, it is important to observe the patient taking their aligners in and out of the mouth to ensure they understand the movement and to check your trays are seating well. Be sure to explain aligner hygiene here, and the importance of using chewies to keep the aligners tracking well.
We include a fitting masterclass as part of the Clear Aligner Starter Course, because we know this can feel like a very tricky appointment to navigate when you’re getting started.
Appointments during treatment - 10 mins every 4-6 weeks for check-up
Keeping track of your patient’s progress is key to ensure your work is optimal. Check-ups every 4-6 weeks for around 10-15 minutes are essential to track progress and reinstate the importance of wearing the aligners at least 22 hours a day.
Use this as an opportunity to check up on how your patient has been and review how well the aligners are tracking with the predicted treatment plan.
At 32Co, we’ve built an incredible remote monitoring tool - free for every dentist to use with their patients.
Finishing appointment - 30-60 minutes
Here it is - the finishing line is in sight!
This is where you get to take off the attachments and show your patient their smile 😁 It’s important to ensure that the patient is happy with the result - if not, refinements may be needed to correct any inaccuracies and this will require new records to be taken and more waiting time for the new aligners to be ordered 😔
To avoid this we recommend taking a very detailed history in the initial appointments, and ensuring your treatment plan is of the highest quality. This is where we can help. Unlike other brands, 32Co provides mentorship from a specialist orthodontist when you need it. This means we have much lower refinement rates than the industry standard, protecting dentists and patients from unhappy surprises.
Retainer Fit - 15-30 minutes
This should be a simple appointment which takes around 20 minutes to fit the retainers and ensure your patient has all the instructions needed to maintain their new beautiful smile!
That’s a wrap! Now, we know there are a lot of steps needed to provide clear aligners and we believe it is important for dentists to be supported and have insight into every stage along the way.
Join our Clear Aligner Starter Course
Completely free for dentists, this course covers every step of the clear aligner journey and provides insight into how you can provide the highest quality treatment with our free orthodontic support. It’s been recommended by every dentist who has taken the course, and is the best way to get started confidently. Sign up here 🚀