Align Technology digital innovations: ‘The best is still to come’

Align hosted its UK and Ireland Live Forum towards the end of September at Savoy Place in London. Dentistry went along to find out where the company is heading and what’s next.

The last 25 years of digital innovations have been absolutely transformative in our day-to-day lives.

In that time, we’ve experienced the growth of online search engines such as Google, transformed the way we shop with contactless payments and even undergone the launch of the smartphone.

It’s been 25 years since Align first came to the dental industry. And in the same way, it has transformed the way dental treatment is offered.

No signs of slowing down

Launched as a treatment to straighten smiles, it has now become a comprehensive offering that includes digital scanners, aligners and CAD/CAM capability.

And the rate of change shows no signs of slowing down from what was on show at Align’s latest Live Forum in London recently.

‘Today is showcasing innovation, the future, how we want to take dentistry forward,’ Abhishek Ganguly, vice president – general dentist channel, core Europe at Align Technology, said.

‘This is specifically targeted for general dentists, but there are also platform innovations that apply across our product portfolios.

‘The future of dentistry is bright and Align is at the forefront of innovation. We will keep driving that to make this profession more interesting and to give dentists the tools they need to deliver better outcomes for their patients.

Align hosted its UK and Ireland Live Forum and Dentistry went along to find out where the company is heading and what’s next.

‘Today is to remind dentists that there’s so much innovation out there – how are they pushing their boundaries to make the most of these innovations?’

The company spends £250million a year on researching and developing the latest technology.  This was pointed out by Zelko Relic, chief technology officer at Align. Where does all that money go?

Below are the standout innovations that are either available now, or coming out towards the end of the year and were announced during the forum.

Clincheck Live

The Clincheck software is where the magic happens for a lot of Invisalign treatments. It’s the area that received the most focus when it came to new innovations from Align.

Clincheck is a cloud-based treatment planning software for clinicians. It allows dentists to upload scans of a patient’s mouth and for Align to plan the course of treatment to achieve the desired result.

One of the biggest updates to the platform is Clincheck Live. This gives clinicians the ability to make changes to a course of treatment, live.

The software will then make the changes and provide an updated plan in under two minutes – reduced from a previous timescale of two weeks by going back to the Align technicians. GDPs can then compare two different courses of treatments before approving the desired one.

Dentists can suggest and modify treatments chairside, saving time, money and potentially losing a patient.

This update is already available for users of Clincheck. And Zelko Relic pointed out the technology will only improve as more people use it. In addition, the algorithms have more data points to pull from.

He believes this will become a key tool for users of the software.

CBCT integration

One of the areas that Align has been working on is pulling together other tools and data sets, all onto one platform. CBCT integration is one such area.

Towards the end of 2022, Align hopes clinicians will be able to, at the click of a button, integrate a CBCT scan into Clincheck.

This will enable them to see the roots, bone structure, as well as the gum line and tooth position, all on one image.

It gives the dentist a full 3D model of the mouth, with just a scan.

Zelko points out: ‘This means more tools seamlessly integrated within the Clincheck system.’

Align hosted its UK and Ireland Live Forum and Dentistry went along to find out where the company is heading and what’s next.

Smile Architect

And finally, another exciting feature due out towards the end of 2022 is Smile Architect, again available through Clincheck.

Align describes Smile Architect as: ‘Comprehensive dentistry…reimagined.’ It offers orthodontic and restorative treatment planning within the Clincheck software.

Align believes it will give clinicians the tools to preserve healthy tooth matter. This is because it gives them the tools to put the teeth in the right position.

It combines Itero intraoral scans, facial photos, and Clincheck software. This helps dentists create realtime treatment plans that integrate orthodontics and restorative treatments for their patients.

With the powerful Clincheck In-Face Visualisation tool, dentists receive a facial rendering. They can use for treatment planning and help patients visualise their smile after both Invisalign treatment and restorative dental treatment.

A really exciting innovation as part of Smile Architect is the tooth mass analysis tool.

This shows how much healthy tooth mass a patient would lose if the teeth aren’t moved into the right position.

Align hopes that by continuously evolving the digital platform, it will continue to provide the most comprehensive digital dental platform for clinicians.

‘A lot of opportunity’

The day was all about embracing the future. As Jim Carroll, futurist and keynote speaker at the event, pointed out during his inspirational lecture, innovation is happening at a faster rate now than it has ever done before.

Generations growing up now are used to embracing the latest technologies. In only five years’ time, the techniques and things we learn now could be obsolete.

As he points out: ‘The future belongs to those who are fast.’

Align hosted its UK and Ireland Live Forum and Dentistry went along to find out where the company is heading and what’s next.

Ramsin Abraham, from Prestige Dental Care, told Dentistry: ‘I’m new to the Invisalign world, which is why I came along today.

‘It’s an opportunity for me to network with more people and see the latest innovations coming out within the Invisalign world. It’s great to listen to the speakers and leaders from the Invisalign world and see where the technology is going for the next generation of treatment.

‘Today is opening the doors to what Invisalign can achieve.’

Stacey Moore, private and specialist and central operations coordinator at Rodericks, was also in attendance.

She said to Dentistry: ‘We work closely with Invisalign and have a lot of Invisalign providers across our estate.

‘The day so far has been amazing, really insightful as to what the future can bring.

‘Where practices are at the moment in the UK, I think there’s a lot of work we can do, but there’s a lot of opportunity. Especially with the way dentistry is going digital – forums like this are really necessary because dentistry has changed so much since the pandemic.

‘This event is great for us to keep with the times.’

Forum Live 2023 will take place on 8-9 September 2023 in London.

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