One clinician’s treatment journey with the Invisalign system
Digital technology and workflows bring a new level of efficiency and ease to a growing number of dental practices. Dr. Shorouq Sahawneh, lead dentist with Smile Brands Inc. (SBI), and Clinical Director and Professional Corporation (PC) President of all southern California offices, knows this well.
Throughout her 12-year career, Dr. Sahawneh has been fascinated with technology. Embracing new digital innovations has allowed her to save time, enhance patient communication, and see Smile Brands, Inc. continue to expand. “We have almost 72 offices in southern California and we’re growing,” she says. “It’s been an amazing journey and I’m very grateful.”
When Align Technology introduced the Invisalign Go system to Smile Brands and their general dentists in 2017, Dr. Sahawneh was given the opportunity to practice in orthodontics, an area of longtime interest. “I loved that Invisalign treatment helped me offer more comprehensive care. It helped me take advantage of a new area of untapped potential to help my patients.”
Dr. Sahawneh prescribed everything from restorative dentistry, extractions, and implants to her patients but had to refer all of her orthodontic cases to a specialist. “With Invisalign Go, I was able to provide my patients with orthodontic treatment. Achieving a straighter smile was a helpful first step in planning future restorative work more effectively and achieving better overall results for my patients,” she explains.
Dr. Sahawneh points out that incorporating Invisalign treatment into the practice workflow is a team effort. The training and support provided by Align Technology are critical to getting up to speed and mastering the different components of the Invisalign Go System – from the Invisalign Photo Uploader through the intuitive ClinCheck treatment planning software. “Align Technology’s Invisalign Pro course, featuring one-on-one tutoring, was a tremendous opportunity to learn from an expert orthodontist while going at my own pace. It helped me become who I am and built so much confidence in my ability.”
Today, an orthodontic assessment is part of every patient’s evaluation and oral examination at Dr. Sahawneh’s practice. “I’m connecting the position of the patient’s teeth, their occlusion and misalignment, to the conditions that they complain about,” Dr. Sahawneh explains. “We are educating patients during periodic appointments that filling a chip or recession with composite is just a temporary fix and we need to treat the cause or the root of the problem—the malocclusion.”
Dr. Sahawneh started her Invisalign journey through utilizing the Case Assessment tool in the Invisalign Go system, which gave her a sense of assurance and confidence to assist her in determining if the patient was a candidate for the Invisalign Go treatment. After about a year, though, Dr. Sahawneh felt confident enough to do her own case assessments. “By this point, my practice was the top office in the whole company based on our number of Invisalign Go cases. But I felt limited and that there where situations where I could provide a more ideal outcome for my patients,” she recalls.
Dr. Sahawneh had been relying on standard impressions to start her Invisalign Go cases. She believed that starting the digital journey with a digital scan would further streamline the process for her team and for her patients. “Smile Brands’ leadership team was supportive, so we added an iTero intraoral scanner to my office,” she says.
Combining her advanced knowledge of Invisalign treatment options while utilizing the enhanced visualization tools, such as the Outcome Simulator available on the iTero scanner, gave her more confidence in case selection and efficient treatment planning. “Now we have more knowledge and can see the bigger picture of what to expect at the end of the case,” she explained.
The iTero scanner helped Dr. Sahawneh tap into something even more important than cost savings and efficiency. The Outcome Simulation feature helped her connect with her patients on a real and powerful emotional level. “Patients know from looking in the mirror that they have crowding or malocclusion,” she noted. “But looking at a 3D image on a screen tells a completely different story. It opens up their eyes. They often say they didn’t know it was that bad. Even just looking at their scans before getting to the simulation step is really helpful for them,” she explains.
“One great thing is the iTero allows us to email them the simulation we created so they can look at it again and show it to their family. That is really awesome! It gives patients more confidence in their decision making and usually leads to a better outcome for case acceptance.”
Dr. Sahawneh uses the iTero scanner for 100% of her restorative cases. “No more impressions!” she exclaims. “It has reduced my percentage of crown and bridge re-dos. In addition, don’t forget that at the end of the day, it enhances patient experience.”
In fact, Dr. Sahawneh and her team have been discussing the need for a second iTero scanner. “We’re using it on every single patient—restorative, prosthetic, Invisalign treatment, all new patients, and for progress assessment in recurring patients.”
Dr. Sahawneh finds these digital technologies reinvigorating. She admits that in the past, she had gotten to a point where she felt “capped out” with regard to both dental procedures and production. “However, adding the Invisalign system and the iTero scanner to my practice created so many opportunities and took my office to the next level. It’s been amazing.”
In her opinion, connecting the iTero scanner to Invisalign treatments has added an additional line of business to her practice. “It took my revenue and production through the roof,” she says. “We’re literally hitting our goals every single month and offering Invisalign treatment to our patients is a big part of that success.”