Or at least we tried very hard to tell you.
DTC aligners are a thing. Teledentistry is a thing. The orthodontic space is changing and the mighty are not assured of their positions. The old standards and delivery models have their place and probably always will to some degree, but they are woefully behind. It’s fun to watch orthodontists defend the status quo in general and Align specifically, while hoping aloud that the co-branded doctor/Align stores won’t have to close. We aren’t sure why they care so much (other than those doctors who “own” stores with Align of course). Align may indeed see this as a “pivot” and part of a bigger strategy as some suggest now that the ruling has come down, but we doubt it because the leadership at Align thinks too much like orthodontists and therefore will never compete with the new DTC aligner companies in the long run (or even the short run).
The Innovator’s Dilemma was never more applicable than today.
Consumers of orthodontic treatment have dominion over their bodies, a right to choose who and how they are treated, a right to access information (including price) and they are starting to figure that out despite what orthodontists think should happen. Orthodontics is a non-invasive, elective and largely reversible aesthetic procedure – we are much more aesthetician than medical doctor and the sooner we own up to this the better our lives will be.
Licensed dentists have the right to practice within the law no matter how you think the law should read or what the prohibitions should be. Scanning (aka taking a series of photos of the mouth) is not practicing dentistry and it is not “taking impressions for a working model” no matter how much you wish it was. The attempts to change the laws to include scanning in order to protect the dental cartel will generally fail in the short term and all fail in the long. Look at the attempts medicine made to protect their cartel decades ago and how that worked out if you don’t believe us. It will only get worse (for traditional orthodontists) while getting better for patients and those on the right side of access to care unless the orthodontic profession is truly able to understand what is going on, change mindset, and get on the right side of access to care. It’s improbable but very possible. Maybe it will happen when all of the AAO’s futile attempts to block DTC aligners at the state board level fail (and they will) and orthodontists will wake up and smell the new reality?
Marc and Ben