Updated: Jun 28
ClearCorrect was started in 2006 by a dentist.
In 2017, Straumann acquired ClearCorrect and has since integrated clear aligners into their other product portfolio.
As Straumann had no prior experience with clear aligners. It took a few years before they decided to roll out ClearCorrect in Europe. Because other companies have bought into Straumann in parallel, not all countries in Europe have access to ClearCorrect yet.
Measured by volume of aligners produced, ClearCorrect is probably the biggest competitor to Invisalign. There is no doubt that ClearCorrect is a significantly bigger brand among dentists in the US than it is in Europe.
With Straumann as the owner of ClearCorrect, it seeks to add quality from the parent company, which has cemented its position as the guarantor of quality in the implant market.
Over the last few years, ClearCorrect has expanded its production capacity enormously to ensure security of supply. Most recently, they have commissioned a factory in Germany to meet the rapidly growing demand in Europe. There have been periods of long lead times. But it is reported that this is a thing of the past.
Unlike Invisalign, ClearCorrect is a largely unknown brand to the general public.
ClearCorrect's USP (Unique selling proposition) is primarily their affiliation with Straumann, the price (which is significantly lower than Invisalign's), and the fact that ClearCorrect receives all IO scans in STL format.
The most important parameter for how easy an aligner system is to work with. Is undoubtedly the software you use in your treatment planning. ClearCorrect calls their treatment plan a setup (the same as ClinCheck at Invisalign)
Invisalign sets the standard for software in clear aligners. Measured by the difference in first impression, ClearCorrect's software looks significantly more primitive than the equivalent at Invisalign. Upon closer inspection of the software, this proves to be the case as well.
However, there is one positive difference in favour of ClearCorrect. It is possible to see the amount of movement of each tooth at each step of the treatment plan. This makes it possible to check whether the tooth movements are within one's own preferences (and ClearCorrect's own protocols). If the movements deviate from the preferences, you can let ClearCorrect correct this until you achieve the desired result.
At the time of this posting's release, all corrections to ClearCorrect's setups are done by written communication with a dental designer (called a technician by the aligner manufacturers). Thus, it is not possible to use 3D control, as with Invisalign, and thus control all tooth movements yourself. However, it is reported that 3D control will be launched by the end of 2021.
There is no doubt that all aligner manufacturers are busy developing sophisticated software solutions. Because in a few years, we will probably have the possibility to 3D print aligners directly. Rather than the current technique where aligners are produced indirectly via a 3D printed model of a jaw. On which an aligner is made with suck down technique.
Technicians / Digital Designers:
Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect uses dental designers (called technicians by the aligners manufacturers) who set up the teeth on the computer and generate a treatment sequence for this setup. Demand for ClearCorrect has grown so rapidly since Straumann's acquisition that it has decided to build a large design centre in Pakistan. ClearCorrect has a small team of experienced designers based in Texas, USA, who support the Pakistani technicians. Because the Pakistani technicians have very limited experience in making setups - and because all ClearCorrects designers, like all other aligner manufacturers' dental designers, have no dental background whatsoever, we have found that, in general, an awful lot of useless setups are returned.
There is a struggle with the designers' inability to translate written instructions into correct treatment sequences. Just as the designers are not yet able to stick to the instructions and therefore independently choose to move the teeth around. This can be hugely frustrating and time consuming, even with a limited need for changes to a setup.
It is to be expected that Straumann will get these teething problems under control in the coming years. Either by allowing dentists to use 3D control and thus define the treatment plan themselves, or by improving the quality of dental designers' skills.
Note that the digital designer is an employee of the aligner manufacturer who sets up the teeth in a position that the technician thinks they should be in after the treatment is finished. No clear aligner manufacturer employs dentists or orthodontists for this critical task. It's a detail worth paying attention to.
Many dentists mistakenly believe that the setup they receive from ClearCorrect is biologically sound, clinically realistic and based on a predictable treatment plan. This is very rarely the case (Which is true for ALL aligner manufacturers). Of all the setups we see, only about 5% do not need modifications. Either to get a realistic treatment plan or to get a biologically and clinically sound treatment.
It may seem excessive that 95% of all setups need modification. But let's look at the reason.
ClearCorrect sets teeth according to the preferences of American orthodontists. These differ significantly from European preferences.
Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect often chooses to move the clinical crowns first, and then move the roots minimally. Any orthodontist would probably say that the order should be reversed: move the roots into an ideal position first, then the crowns. The reason for this discrepancy is that it is faster to move the crowns, but biologically inappropriate.
Neither AI nor technicians seem to understand the relationship between the different forces used in each patient's orthodontic treatment. We almost always see engagers (attachments) placed inappropriately, incorrectly or in places where they have no bearing on the outcome of the treatment.
Furthermore, we almost always see movements that counteract each other, which certainly leads to a lack of tracking which leads to a need for additional aligners.
It is IMPORTANT to remember that it is ALWAYS the treating dentist who bears full responsibility for treatment with clear aligners. Even if a setup looks great on the computer screen, you should consider that treatment with clear aligners is no different from treatment with brackets and wires. Clear aligners and the associated software require as much orthodontic knowledge to safely and predictably complete treatment as treatment with fully fixed appliances. Clear aligners are therefore a working tool in the hands of the treating dentist, on a par with full fixed appliances.
ClearCorrect uses a 3-layer plastic developed by a plastic manufacturer they acquired a few years ago. The material has a greater elasticity and an ability to hold its shape over a longer period of time than their previous rail material.
We have previously expressed scepticism about the clinical impact of the different aligner materials on treatment outcomes. However, it is indisputable that patients find the more flexible materials much easier to handle when the aligners are put on and taken off. Just as the more flexible material is more comfortable to wear in the mouth - it cuts less into the gingiva when there are movements that press the aligner against the gingiva.
Invisalign appears to use a combination technique that shapes the aligners over the tooth models with both vacuum and pressure. Where all other manufacturers shape the aligners by vacuum alone. Aligners produced by vacuum alone result in aligners that are slightly less accurate than invisaligns. Whether this has a clinical significance, we do not know at this stage.
ClearCorrect reportedly uses a plastic material for their 3D models that is recyclable. Whether this is entirely accurate seems perhaps a bit unlikely. If you consider that Invisalign has straightened the teeth of 10 million patients, you can start to calculate how big a plastic waste mountain it leaves behind (A conservative estimate is 30 aligners per patient - 15 in OK and 15 in the UK - that's a total of 300 million 3D printed teethets). In an age of extreme focus on green technology, recycling plastic would be a great story to use in marketing. As we see nothing to indicate a green strategy from any aligner manufacturer, we interpret this as plastic for 3D printing not yet having reached a stage where it can be recycled.
ClearCorrect only uses a straight trimline. This means that the edge of ClearCorrect aligners extends between 2-4 mm down over the gingiva. It may not look as professional and neat as Invisalign's "scalloped trimline", but it has certain advantages.
A straight trim line is more rigid, so the aligner doesn't lose as much force as a scalloped trim line. It has the distinct advantage of requiring fewer engagers (attachments).
A scalloped trimline is more flexible and therefore requires more attachments to get an optimal force transfer to the teeth. This is one of the reasons why we have seen a dramatic increase in the need for Invisalign attachments over the past few years.
The disadvantages of a straight trimline are that it is more difficult, for patients, to take their aligners on and off. In addition, it can be a challenge when adjusting patients with retractions. Here, undercuts will often make it very difficult to get the aligners on and off.
A further disadvantage of a straight trimline is the risk of uncomfortable zones of pressure on the gingiva. Especially in the treatment stages where movements are planned that may press the aligner against the gingiva.
If a ClearCorrect patient loses an engager, it can be reattached using the aligner that the patient wears in that treatment step. This is a huge advantage over Invisalign, where a template has to be ordered as attachments in Invisalign are a slightly different size in the template than in the aligner.
In this way, ClearCorrect clinics save chair time, minimising patient dissatisfaction and the costs associated with increased chair time consumption.
Attachment loss occurs largely only when deviating from a safe attachment bonding protocol. Even on ceramic surfaces, it is possible to bond attachments so that they do not fall off. It just requires that the proper protocol is followed exactly.
If you do not have a protocol for bonding attachments, you can download our free guide here.
ClearCorrect aligners have a thickness that lies between Invisalign aligners and their retainers (Vivera). Therefore, ClearCorrect aligners can be used as Essix retainers. When retainers are ordered from ClearCorrect, a set of aligners similar to the last step of treatment will arrive, just without the engagers.
If you choose ClearCorrect unlimited, it is possible to order up to 2 sets of retainers annually for 5 years, from the beginning of the treatment. This is done at no additional cost.
For comparison, you have to buy 3 sets of Vivera retainers at Invisalign.
As long as your IO scanner can export STL files, you can work with ClearCorrect in your clinic. There is no requirement for a specific scanner and as far as we are aware, scanners do not need to be approved by ClearCorrect prior to deployment.
This is a huge advantage over Invisalign, who seem to want to exclude all scanners other than their own, despite other scanners providing higher quality IO scans.
If the practice does not have an IO scanner. Is it easy to take conventional silicone impressions. (Alginate impressions cannot be used. They are too inaccurate and unstable during transport).
The impressions are sent in the same way as if they were to be sent to a regular dental laboratory. However, please note that the impressions must be taken in disposable impression trays, as the impression trays are not returned after being scanned at ClearCorrect.
ClearCorrect scans their impressions with an optical scanner. Each scan is inspected by a ClearCorrect employee to ensure that the quality meets the quality requirements to deliver clear aligners that can move teeth predictably.
If any errors are detected in the impressions, an email is sent to the clinic informing them that the impression does not meet the quality requirements and that a new impression should be taken.
Impressions for clear aligners must be of the absolute highest quality. Even small errors in the impression are rejected, with good reason. If the impressions are not accurate, it is impossible to get aligners that fit optimally. Whereby the teeth cannot be moved predictably.
We often help clinics improve their workflow and quality. If you need an impression-taking protocol that is relatively easy and ensures excellent results 98% of the time, please contact us.
Receiving aligners in the practice.
ClearCorrect markets itself as a fun, festive and youthful brand.
It is not high end, but in our opinion it seems to be aimed more towards the mid-range. This is also reflected in the materials provided to the patients. It's all ok, but far from the same delicious experience you get with Invisalign.
Personally, I'm not that fond of their storage boxes. They work fine, but seem a bit clunky and old-fashioned. Kind of like denture boxes. In my opinion, it doesn't speak optimally to patients who want nice white teeth. But I would be surprised if ClearCorrect is unaware of this. I believe they are working on improving their product packaging.
A huge advantage of ClearCorrect is that they are more at eye level with their customers (the dentists). They openly acknowledge that they provide a product that moves teeth according to the dentist's preferences. Therefore, no certification is required to work with ClearCorrect (unlike Invisalign).
All dentists who wish to work with ClearCorrect can register online and access ClearCorrect's product portfolio. There are a number of videos online that guide users through the various steps required to work with ClearCorrect's online platform.
In addition, there are a multitude of online videos describing tips and tricks for using ClearCorrect's software and for clinical management of their aligners.
In other words, there is no cost associated with getting started with ClearCorrect. As soon as one has set up, as a user. You will be contacted by a local ClearCorrect sales representative, who will make himself available free of charge to help your clinic get started.
You should also be aware that no clear aligner manufacturer offers orthodontic training. It is the responsibility of the individual dentist to build up the necessary knowledge to perform orthodontic treatment. Whether this is done with clear aligners or fixed appliances.
An easy and safe way to get started with clear aligners is with help from Alignerservice.com We guide the practice team in all work processes with ClearCorrect. We prepare the treatment plan, taking into account any restorative needs after the clear aligner treatment. We take over all communication with the ClearCorrect designers, making sure to prepare an ideal and predictable treatment setup and support the clinic throughout the treatment from start to finish.
In this way, the practice saves both chair time and the time of the dentist. Which multiplies the profit on treatments with clear aligners.
ClearCorrect has positioned itself as an affordable alternative to Invisalign.
Just as there are no restrictions related to the choice of IO scanners.
The lack of 3D controls makes working with ClearCorrect significantly more time consuming and sometimes frustrating compared to Invisalign. Despite this, ClearCorrect excels in achieving the same treatment results.
Unlimited cases include the option to order up to 2 sets of retainers annually for 5 years, from the beginning of the treatment. Which brings the total lab cost significantly down compared to Invisalign (unless you are a platinum or diamond provider).
We see no limitations in the treatments possible with ClearCorrect compared to Invisalign. As long as you know your orthodontic principles and know what you are doing and why, there is no difference in what treatments you can perform with the different systems.
Like ClearCorrect's competitors, discounts are available for purchases of many treatments.
However, it is not as clear as with Invisalign what is needed to get a discount deal. This is agreed with the local Straumann sales representative.
Customer service at ClearCorrect is usually fast and good.
Straumann spends a lot of resources every year training their customer service to help dentists in the best possible way.
ClearCorrect does not employ clinical supporters to assist dentists in resolving clinical challenges. Instead, they employ a so-called "first level support". This means that they have employees who are trained to help dentists solve the most common challenges that arise in the practice. These employees do not necessarily have a clinical background.
In Europe, it is Helle Hatt DDS who has trained all ClearCorrect's support staff. In cases where first level support cannot help the dentist, contact is made to a key opinion leader or to Helle Hatt DDS, who then contacts the dentist as soon as possible to help solve the problem at hand.
Internally, ClearCorrect's clinical support policy is very clear. Assistance or advice in formulating a treatment plan may NOT be provided. Clinical support is only to help dentists gain a better understanding of the technical elements of the software and provide advice on dealing with clinical issues. There are strong legal reasons why aligner manufacturers do not provide support for treatment plan design.
Should you have any questions or require assistance with one or more clear aligner cases, please do not hesitate to contact us. Aligner service helps dentists and orthodontists to design and optimise clear aligner treatment plans, independent of the aligner brand, so that treatments are more predictable, less time-consuming and achieve a biologically and clinically realistic result.
You are welcome to call or write to us at any time.
P: +41 79 174 30 03
You can also read more at: www.alignerservice.com
Many kind regards
Jesper Hatt DDS
T: +41 78 268 00 78