By Dr. John White
The orthodontics industry is no different from other marketplaces, where smaller companies emerge to compete with industry leaders. Just look at all of the athletic shoe companies springing into the market to compete against Nike and local roasters trying to one-up Starbucks’ latest blend. While we don’t have that many companies competing in the orthodontics field, there are new companies popping up.
In 1999, Align Technology pioneered the invisible orthodontics market with the introduction of the Invisalign system and by 2003 had manufactured over one million unique clear aligners. Since then there have been a couple of other companies manufacturing similar technology, spun off by employees and clients from Align Technology. The first company, called OrthoClear, is no longer in business, and, more recently, ClearCorrect entered the market.
I have played with this software and observed this product and found it to be rudimentary. The plastic material being used is not as advanced, and the design software is not as sophisticated and has less tools for the orthodontist to customize.
ClearCorrect’s selling point is affordability, as it markets the product as having lower lab fees. While the product may cost less for most providers, it is not any cheaper for orthodontists to treat and care for the patient. And in my practice, as an Elite Invisalign Provider ranked in the top one percent of Invisalign providers in the world, I get a volume discount I pass along to the patient, which negates any price benefit of using ClearCorrect.
While ClearCorrect is the largest of the minor players in the marketplace, it currently accounts for less than 10 percent of the market share.
The biggest hurdle for other companies trying to compete with Invisalign is having enough capital and the capacity to produce the same volume and quality as Invisalign, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in technology and laboratories around the world.