Align Technology’s vision of transforming more smiles in South East Asia

Ms Sasithorn Theinthong, Managing Director of Align Technology SEA

As the pioneer of clear aligner system, Align Technology continues to revolutionise and lead the industry. With their recent expansion in Thailand and Vietnam, the emerging markets in this region will benefit from Align’s exclusive training centres and their full portfolio of treatment solutions.

Unlocking the region’s potential

With the demand and market potential for clear aligners as well as the positive adoption of digital technology among dentists in Thailand and Vietnam, Align considered it as a “natural step” to extend its support to these countries. The new training centres will provide training, clinical education programmes, and process demonstrations for dental professionals and highlight the benefits of integrating Align’s innovative solutions and treatment options into their practices.

“These training centre investments showcase Align’s commitment to South East Asia (SEA),” said Ms Sasithorn Theinthong, managing director of Align Technology SEA.

The new state-of-the-art training facilities in Thailand and Vietnam aim to be the centres of excellence to educate doctors across Align’s entire portfolio of products, including Invisalign clear aligners, Invisalign Go, Invisalign First, and Vivera retainers.

Additionally, the training centres will also provide doctors with hands-on experience using iTero intraoral scanners for restorative and orthodontic procedures.

She added, “Our goal is to ensure that dental professionals are prepared to meet the growing demand for Invisalign clear aligners and to recognise the enormous potential to provide the best for their patients in the region.”

Each new training centre consists of three main training rooms which can hold up to 60 doctors, double the previous occupancy. The training centre also includes a simulation lab and a simulation dentist room with an iTero scanner.

Align recognises that thorough training is important to ensure great outcomes for both doctors and patients. However, they also consider patient education vital in extending their reach.

Ms Theinthong, shared, “Last year, Align Technology invested $100 million in global marketing to educate people about Invisalign clear aligners and drive demand for our products.

We also opened Invisalign Centres in the region to educate patients and connect them with local Invisalign doctors for further consultation or treatment.”

She commented that patient education would reflect in increased acceptance of digital technology which in turn give positive impact in the market.

Supporting the doctors through the crisis

Align Technology was not exempted from the challenges brought about by the pandemic. However, they quickly reverted to solutions to support doctors during the crisis. They expedited the development of virtual tools to minimise in-office appointments and deliver doctor-directed, personalised treatment that meets the needs of the patients – trust, safety, convenience, and continuity of care.

The new technologies include Invisalign

Virtual Appointment, Invisalign Virtual Care, and My Invisalign App, all of which are designed to provide greater convenience for patients by allowing them to remotely connect with their doctors to monitor progress, reduce appointment travel time, and ensure there are no gaps in their treatment.

Ms Theinthong, explained, “Invisalign Virtual Appointment tool enables doctors to schedule and host video appointments with patients easily. Doctors and their practice staff can schedule a video consultation and discussion of the patients’ Invisalign treatment.

Invisalign Virtual Care is built into My Invisalign app. It can be used for remote consultations, assessment of treatment progress, and communication on adjustments or concerns during treatment. Patients may use My Invisalign App to stay engaged in their treatment and convey progress photos to their doctor. The doctors will review these photos on their Invisalign Doctor Site and communicate any needed instructions to patients, ensuring their Invisalign treatment journey is on track.” She also noted that with the pandemic, clinics are pushed to digitalise their practice.

She said, “With the increasing concern on safety and infection, clinics will have to adapt and enhance their infection control protocol to minimise risks.”

She wants to encourage more practitioners to embrace digital workflow. For instance, the use of the iTero intraoral scanner offers more convenience and provides more hygienic process to the clinician as compared with the traditional impression.

However, despite the promising outlook of digital dentistry, there are still some practitioners in SEA who are hesitant to adopt.

“The bottleneck to the transition could be due to the insufficient digital literacy in the region. Practitioners encounter difficulty in trusting new technology,” she explained.

With Align’s new training and Invisalign centres in SEA, they aim to address this issue so practitioners can fully experience the benefits of digital dentistry and improve their clinic efficiency.

Leading the industry

As a pioneer in the clear aligner system, Align is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible and continues to reimagine and innovate orthodontic and restorative treatment solutions.

Ms Theinthong said that their sustained investment is what makes their brand diff erent from the rest. On top of that, Align Technology uniquely prioritises doctor training as an ongoing, immersive process.

“Our strategy focuses on patient demand generation and long-term partnership with the doctors. This has differentiated Align Technology and also strengthen trust and credibility among our customers,” she shared.

Ms Theinthong summarised what it takes to be a leader in three points, “First is passion on what you do. You need to be passionate and have a vision on what you want to achieve for your business or organisation then, build your way towards that vision.

Second is good communication. You have to make sure everyone understands the goal and how to achieve it. Lastly, is the ability to ensure everything you do add value to your customers and patients.”

She also added that a good ecosystem where one listens to the customers and work together towards a win-win situation will result in long-term partnership.

“When everyone is working towards the same direction including customers, you are ensured of success,” she said.

Although the dental industry is dynamic and fast-moving, Ms Theinthong finds satisfaction in working in the field.

“When you hear stories about how beautiful smiles have improved someone’s confidence and how it made an impact on their lives, it is really rewarding,” she shared.

Relentless innovative pursuit

Align Technology anticipates positive developments in the market and with the shift to digital platforms, there are major growth opportunities for Invisalign clear aligners.

The company aims to establish Invisalign System as a treatment of choice for all orthodontic patients and is committed in launching innovative products and technology to address the ever-changing market needs.

With thousands of Invisalign-trained orthodontists and dentist across more than 100 countries globally, Ms Theinthong is confident that Invisalign clear aligners is the future of orthodontics.

This article was published in Dental Asia November/December 2020 issue.