Bringing VISION to Orthodontists Across the Globe

by Edil Islamov in Oct 14 2023

Orthodontists around the world are searching for innovative clear aligner solutions. SoftSmile allows doctors to design a clear aligner system for treatment planning workflow ease and flexibility. 

Orthodontists can confidently own their treatment planning and design an orthodontic digital workflow that suits their needs and those of their patients. 

We spoke to Commercial Director, Edil Islamov, about his background and experiences managing global sales and business development for SoftSmile. He told us about the ways VISION has been designed to innovate how orthodontists develop treatment plans. Unlike other offerings, SoftSmile has created an ecosystem for clear aligner workflow management via the VISION Web Portal, which includes the VISION Web Viewer that allows orthodontists and their staff to share treatment plans with patients. Additionally, the VISION Doctor-Facing Application allows doctors to easily review and modify treatment plans. As such, Islamov notes, VISION allows doctors to manage the clear aligner workflow in a very efficient manner so that they can communicate with all the stakeholders, including their staff, the patient, or the technician who creates the treatment plan.

How did you end up working for SoftSmile and what is your job with the company?

It's sort of a long story!  Prior to SoftSmile, I was actually working for the Zed Fund for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, so I was focused on helping to start and grow traditional and innovative businesses. But even before joining the company, I was in touch with our CEO Khamzat Asabaev, and I’ve known our CTO Damian for quite a while. Before starting SoftSmile, Khamzat and Damian had started an orthodontic lab and during that time I was helping out as an external unpaid consultant, preparing investor presentations. Once I left that job I was looking for other opportunities. Khamzat asked me to join SoftSmile to help build its international presence. Once I joined in 2022, we decided to open a SoftSmile office here in the MENA region in Abu Dhabi. 

What are SoftSmile’s current business goals?

We're currently focused on growing the number of clients and the number of case exports we have. Our goal is to have our clients produce as many cases as possible using our software and deliver as many perfect smiles as possible. Right now the number of exports per month is growing, so we are already producing thousands of happy smiles around the world.

Where is the company in terms of bringing VISION to the MENA market?

I would say we're still in the early stages, but we have some clients and have great interest from people in the MENA region. We recently signed a dental lab based in Saudi Arabia, and have interest from the UAE, where our office is based. We also have some interest from the Asia-Pacific region — Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Right now we're working on educating MENA-based clients on the advantages of using SoftSmile's VISION software and the ecosystem that we provide so that they can see the benefits and how it can help them grow their practice and deliver results for their patients.

What are some key differences between the way that orthodontists around the world utilize treatment planning?

There are some regulatory differences globally around who can sell clear aligners as a medical device and who can approve the treatment plans that have been created, or who can sign off on the treatment plans before the clear aligner actually goes to the patients. 

When it comes to the actual style of the doctors, some are very precise and technical when it comes to treatment planning. I would say this is more common with European doctors. They tend to include a lot of precise instructions – how and when and in which sequence the teeth are supposed to move and in which direction. So even if they're not doing the treatment plan themselves, even if they're outsourcing it to a technician, they are very precise when it comes to the actual sequence of movements and the technical instructions that they give.

Other than that, I mean it really depends, not so much on geography, but on the profile of the doctor himself. Some of the doctors really want to be very involved, they want their hands on everything, they want to control, they want to contribute, and they want to adjust the final positions of teeth. Some of them are very laid-back. They put more trust in the technicians. They give very general instructions when it comes to treatment planning. They then review the final positions of teeth and they trust the plan that the technicians have developed. So it really depends on the profile and the character of the doctor himself. 

There is also a difference between how labs are organized and how a clinic is organized because labs are less technical when it comes to actual treatment planning. They want the final results and they want the files that will be printed. When it comes to the doctor and treatment plans, they are more technical, and they want to be more involved.

How is VISION different from other orthodontic treatment planners?

First of all, it is beautiful software, and the visualization of how the teeth and gums look is so natural and it's very accurate. The software’s visualization of a patient’s mouth accurately reflects reality. 

So it's not just a game simulation, you know? Sometimes with treatment planning software, the result that you demonstrate to the patient is not something achievable in reality, which is why you have so many refinements happening because the treatment doesn't go as planned or as was initially demonstrated to the client.

We are accurate at every stage of treatment planning. We have great segmentation which is supported with artificial intelligence that we use to segment the actual teeth. And then when it comes to treatment planning, we have a lot of biomechanical simulations embedded into our software which allows us to ensure movements that we create are realistic. 

And then comes the actual user-friendliness. Our clients love the staging table because of its predictive power to indicate when this aligner is starting to do its work when this tooth is moving in which direction it's moving, and when attachments or IPRs are being used.

But apart from the actual technical specifications of the software, there's also the fact that we have created an ecosystem for seamless clear aligner workflow management. We have the VISION portal that includes the Doctor-Facing Application and Web Viewer, in addition to the treatment planning application. Clients can manage their workflows in a very efficient and telling manner so that they can communicate with all the stakeholders, and all the parties involved, whether it be the doctor, the patient, or the technician who creates the treatment plan. All of them can have their input, they can give feedback, and can get the information that they need in order to make the decision, which will lead to a beautiful smile for the patient.

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