What is the difference between a Preferred, Premier, Premier Elite Invisalign provider?
Byon 01 Sep 2011
So you have been researching options to perfect your smile, and have decided Invisalign is the way to go. You find an Invisalign Preferred Provider and think you must be in good hands if you choose them, right? After all, the Align company itself (makers of Invisalign) has said they are Preferred. Then you hear there is a Premier Provider, whose experience is greater than that of the Preferred Provider. Ok, easy choice now right? Oh but wait, there is also an Elite Premier Provider...now you are beginning to wonder if there is a Deluxe Elite Premier Provider aren’t you? Luckily no, at least not yet.
If you do a web search to see what sets these providers apart from one another it is difficult to find any information. The Invisalign site simply ranks the designations from least to most experience, but doesn’t give the criteria to earn the specific designations. The PR firm that works for Align was kind enough to confirm the provider qualifications as listed below, with a note that the company doesn’t make this information public. No wonder it is so difficult to come by!
• Treat 10 cases per year
• Has treated at least 50 cases total
• Treat at least 25 cases every 6 months
Premier Elite Provider:
• Has treated at least 300 cases total
• Treat 50 cases every 6 months
**There are no continuing education requirements for any of the designations, despite popular beliefs to the contrary.
If, when you look at the qualification criteria, all you see are quantity of cases and nothing that address the quality of the outcome you are not alone. When the question of if the quality of the outcome was taken into consideration before assigning the designations Align’s PR firm replied, “In terms of your question related to quality, Align provides prospective patients with information regarding Invisalign product experience. It is not a comment on or evaluation of clinical competency, which Align defers to the state licensing boards and to the profession to determine, as clinical standards of care are not within Align’s purview or authority.” So in other words, no, the results of the treatment is not evaluated by Align. The designations are only measures of the number of cases completed.
It is also worth noting that the Invisalign site states “Where multiple Invisalign providers are associated with a single combined practice, the Invisalign Advantage Program designation reflects that of the dentist or orthodontist with the most Invisalign cases submitted.” Basically if an unexperienced dentist works at the same office as an Elite Premier Provider the entire office can be promoted as that level of provider. For this reason if you use the designations to help choose your provider it would be wise to ask what level of experience the dentist who will be treating you has, and not make an assumption.
If the designations don’t assess quality, are they worth using to select your provider? If so do you go to a Preferred Provider if it will save you a few bucks, or play it safe and go with the Premier Elite Provider?