Updated: Apr 10
-By Dr. Mark-Anthony Shepherd, MUDr.
Educating your patient before procedures is always super important, especially when it comes to longer treatments like Clear Aligner Therapy. I often see patients with failed treatment who come into my clinic from other dentists or companies, or even from videos online, and mostly have one thing in common: poor instructions given to them. Because the patient is physically doing 90% of the treatment at home, they should understand key points about the process so they know what they’ll feel during treatment and to manage their expectations.
Benefits - Why is it important to educate your patient?
Improve compliance - One of the most common reasons for treatment failure is due to patients not following the aligner instructions correctly. They should know exactly how to perform their treatment so they don’t miss any steps or ask questions they should have known in advance which lead to unwanted complaints & confusion (Did you know with Smile Genius you can upload your own custom Aligner Instruction guide for your patients) - Book Demo to know more
Increase predictability - When patients follow the instructions, it’s more likely they’ll achieve the predicted movements from stage to stage from wearing the aligners adequately, stimulating treatment with chewies, and changing to new stages on time.
Better results - As the teeth align accurately and with more predictability, according to the prescription, inevitably means better results. Better results means a happier patient. Happier patient means more referrals, which means more profit.
Reduce refinements - Achieving more completed results either eliminates the need for refinement or shortens the refinement length, saving you time, resources and money.
3 Key Points
You can break down patient's instructions into 3 Key Points. Try to remember F.A.Q, as in Fundamentals, Aligners & Questions:
Wear the aligners for 18-22 hours per day for the prescribed time
Aligners should fit perfectly, especially when changing from one to another. I always tell my patients “The better they fit, the better they work”.
2. Aligner Wear & Treatment Cycles
Aligner Wear Cycle : This explains how each aligner will feel and what the patient should expect from stage to stage.
Tight Phase: Start every stage at night to maximize consecutive aligner wear time and to sleep through discomfort. In the 1st week of every stage, the aligners will feel tight. The patient should use their chewies for a few minutes a few times a day to stimulate a good aligner fit and blood flow in the jaws.
Loose Phase: Into the 2nd week of wearing an aligner, the aligner will feel loose as the teeth would have moved into their shape and the pressure would have eased. The patient should use their chewies if their aligners are not fitting perfectly or if there’s still pressure on the teeth.
Changing aligners: The patient should be instructed to observe and inspect their aligner fit and feel. If the fit is perfect, they should it's time to change aligners and send you photos for your records or inspect later. If the fit is poor, the patient should know not to change aligners, immediately start using their chewies for an extended period and contact you for further instructions. You can train your staff to provide very basic troubleshooting tips.
Treatment Cycle : Explaining the stages of treatment from start to finish
Primary treatment - They will complete the initial set of aligners without eating or drinking with them on, and keeping their teeth super clean.
Refinements - Adding additional aligners to fine-tune their results at the end of treatment.
Retainer - Worn for 3-6 months day and night after treatment, then at night, forever. It’s very important for them to understand this.
3. Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)
Have a paper or video guide for your patients to read and have on hand during treatment to reduce unnecessary questions and confusion.
Pain during treatment - Explain that treatment may be uncomfortable and that most people experience discomfort described as a 0-4 out of 10 for the first 2-4 days of every stage where some may say the discomfort is a little more.
Speech affected - They may experience a slight lisp which usually resolves after 24 hours.
Keep & Protect aligners - Instruct your patients to keep all their aligners and never throw them away, and to keep them in the protective case when not being used.
How to execute the key points
Smile Genius is an excellent and efficient platform to educate your patients through clear and uncomplicated treatment instructions.
Your custom resource library:Through our dentist portal, you can upload your own educational resources such as documents and videos where your patient can download them through the built in patient app.
Automation: As your patient undergoes treatment, the app will automatically notify your patient when to change aligners, asking them to upload photos for you to evaluate remotely and address any treatment disparities on the spot.
Virtual Dentist: A great tip is to train your staff to look out for basic things like ill-fitting aligners or tissue health and report it to you for immediate follow-up with the patient. You can then communicate with your patient through the built in chat function or set up a video call appointment. This allows you to remotely keep a closer eye on your patients and troubleshoot early leading to better results, less refinements, more profits, happier patients and more referrals.
Non-compliance Refinement Cost - A major issue affecting results is patient compliance. I have a system in place where if the patient doesn’t follow up throughout treatment and tracking fails, they would pay a fee for needed refinements. This simple tool encourages the patient to change aligners on time and follow treatment instructions more closely for a strong finish and optimal results.
Look at our recent video on the same: 4 Essentials to Eliminate or Reduce Refinements (Revisions)
Here’s to your next successful case, Smile Genius.
If you liked this blog please follow us on Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for more helpful tips and great content. Also, if you like to get more info or register for Smile Genius, please book a Demo, we’d love to speak with you.
** Please note, this is not meant to be absolute medical information. Please use your own judgment when performing any dental procedure.