Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

April 25, 2018

A situation where Invisalign didn’t work

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Hello Dr. Hall,

The reason I want to speak with you is because I started with Invisalign October 25th 2016 with a Dentist. We agreed upon me paying $4,675.00.

My goal we spoke about for my smile was to fix my midline and also make room to put veneers on my lateral teeth.

His expert recommendation was Invisalign over a period of 9 months. I finished my first set of trays during the 9-month period (August 2017). Since my midline was not straight after the 9 months, my dentist ordered a new set of trays.

I was supposed to be done in March 2018. I’ve sacrificed double the time to work with him to correct the midline as we had initially discussed in Oct 2016.

So at this point, I’m at my wits’ end. I’m frustrated from sacrificing so much time and money. I took it upon myself to speak with doctors about my current situation. These are doctors who work with both Invisalign and traditional metal braces. Their professional recommendation was Invisalign would not give me the results I need and traditional braces is the only option.

How do I go about getting a refund to be able to fund my new braces?

Thank you for your advice.
– Kristen

I’m going to give you a two-part answer, and in the first part I’m going to address whether or not Invisalign would work in your situation. I’m guessing that these other dentists, who sound like orthodontists since you said they work with both Invisalign and traditional braces, are probably right that this wasn’t a case for Invisalign. Having said that, in my experience, many orthodontists, educated in traditional methods, don’t give Invisalign the credit it deserves. I’ll tell a story as an illustration. When I was practicing, there was an orthodontist who was an excellent orthodontist, and he had a patient come to him who wanted Invisalign. He told the patient that traditional braces were the best way to correct his crooked teeth, and he wouldn’t do it any other way. With those options, the patient chose no treatment at all because he was dead set against wearing metal braces. Then he came to me, and I told him that yes, the orthodontist was right that traditional braces were the “best,” most predictable way to move his teeth, but that Invisalign would also work and if he was willing to accept the limitations I would take the case. I did, and the results turned out fine and he was very happy. The point is that some dentists have this strict mindset. This includes some orthodontists who stubbornly refuse to give Invisalign the credit it deserves. Part of what is going on in the backs of their minds, I am sure, is that you don’t need to be an orthodontist specialist to use Invisalign, and they feel protective of their status as specialists. Their identity and status is tied up in diminishing Invisalign as much as they can.

Anyway, moving a midline and keeping it straight is a little tricky to accomplish, and I think is best handled by a specialist—an orthodontist, so I think you’re now in good hands.

So that brings us to my second point—getting your refund. Different dentists are going to respond very differently to a situation like this. Some will be fine with giving a refund for a treatment that didn’t work, while others will be nasty about it. So you start with a simple request, and then you ratchet up the pressure until you hopefully get your way. Here are the steps for ratcheting up the pressure:

  1. Start with a straightforward, polite request to the dentist
  2. Ask another dentist to call with the request for a refund. If another dentists feels that a refund is warranted, this adds a lot to the strength of your request.
  3. Complain to a local peer review committee, if one exists. This step may not be too effective, and most people could easily skip this.
  4. Threaten, and then follow through, with a complaint to the state dental board. No dentist wants a black mark on their record with the dental board.
  5. Get a lawyer.

And through all of this, you don’t want to be emotional or nasty. Be polite, with a calm voice, but firm.

I wish you the best.
– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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