What Do the Invisalign Provider Designations Really Mean?

Megan P on 11 Oct 2011 at 11:00am

RealSelf members know that online reviews are influential when choosing a health-care provider.  Invisalign (the “invisible” braces) tries to guide potential patients to “better” providers, but do their ratings benefit the consumer, or the company?

They classify providers as: Preferred, PremierPremier Elite, or Super Elite.

The qualifications are based on quantity of cases only -- and nothing related to the quality of the outcome.

If you do a web search to see what sets these providers apart from one another it’s difficult to find any information.  The Invisalign site ranks the designations from least to most experience, but doesn’t share the criteria to earn those designations.

The PR firm that works for Align (the makers of Invisalign) 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!

The Qualifications:

Invisalign preferred providerPreferred:
       • Treats 10 cases per year

         • Has treated at least 50 cases total
         • Treats at least 25 cases every 6 months

Premier Elite:
         • Has treated at least 300 cases total
         • Treats 50 cases every 6 months

 Super Elite:
         • Invisalign announced this “rare” designation over the summer
         • Their PR firm told RealSelf “the information regarding the Super Elite designation is not information the company is making available publicly at this time.”

There are no continuing education requirements for any of the designations, despite popular beliefs to the contrary.

And why no mention to the quality of results?

Align’s PR firm said, “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.”

In other words, no, quality of treatment outcome is not evaluated by Align.

Invisalign photos before and afterIt 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.”

Translation: if an inexperienced dentist works at the same office as an Elite Premier Provider the entire office can be promoted as that level. So if you solely use the designations to help choose your provider, make sure to ask what level of experience the dentist who will be treating you has.

Quantity of cases does mean more practice, but it's not always equivalent to quality.

Photo credits: Microsoft Office and Smikey Io on Wikimedia; Invisalign