TEMPE, Ariz., April 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Align Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALGN), a leading global medical device company engaged in the design and manufacture of the Invisalign system, iTero intraoral scanners, and exocad CAD/CAM services for orthodontic and restorative dentistry, today announced its support to expand access to vaccinations by U.S. dentists.
As seen over the last year, managing health care resources during a pandemic or other health crisis is a complex mix of preparation and execution, with access to responsible care being a key consideration. Federal, state, and local public health officials and health care providers have worked to balance access to COVID-19 testing and healthcare while also meeting other health needs – both routine and unexpected – that continue even during a pandemic. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 increases across the U.S., it is important to review and build on lessons learned in order to optimize responsiveness for future events. One of those lessons is the potential value of using networks of existing, trusted, community-level health care providers when rolling out vaccination plans.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Align’s customers – primarily dentists and orthodontists across the country – have been at the forefront of their profession and healthcare, in general, using social media and virtual appointment and treatment monitoring tools to stay connected with and communicate public health and safety protocols to their patients,” said Julie Coletti, Align Technology senior vice president, chief legal and regulatory officer. “As essential health care providers of ongoing health care services, they have earned their patients’ trust by staying current with the latest health and safety protocols and public health requirements to safely and responsibly treat their patients.”
As trusted, highly qualified health care professionals, dentists can expand the number of care providers that offer immunizations. According to the American Dental Association, 9 percent of Americans (31 million people) see a dentist every year, but do not see a physician1. This is a significant statistic to be considered as part of any future plans for vaccine administration.
Dentists Provide Experienced Care
Before completing dental school and becoming licensed, dentists are professionally trained to administer intraoral and extraoral injections into nerve tissue for local anesthesia – which is arguably more difficult to effectively administer than a vaccine injected into the shoulder muscle. Further, many states permit dentists to administer dermal fillers, Botox® injections, and to start IVs for procedures requiring sedation.
Building on Pandemic Policies
A majority of states have established the foundation for dentist-provided vaccinations by affirmatively permitting dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. On March 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 nationwide regardless of state laws that prevent dentists from doing so.3
Align believes that these recent pandemic-related policies should be the start of additional integration of dentists to vaccinate against other diseases. For example, augmenting the role of the dental profession in routine immunization of oral health related diseases such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV) would increase society’s access to future immunizations.2 Such steps would establish a more robust vaccine program by expanding access at a community level through trusted and competent dentists.
1 ADA Health Policy Institute, “Could Dentists Relieve Physician Shortages, Manage Chronic Disease?”, David Leader, D.M.D., M.P.H.; Marko Vujicic, Ph.D.; Brittany Harrison, M.A.; http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_1218_1.pdf
2 North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative (NCOHC), “Dentists’ Role in Vaccination: An Opportunity for Public Health Impact”, Zachary Brian, DMD, MHA, https://oralhealthnc.org/dentists-role-in-vaccination-an-opportunity-for-public-health-impact/
About Align Technology, Inc.
Align Technology designs, manufactures and offers the Invisalign® system, the most advanced clear aligner system in the world, iTero® intraoral scanners and services, and exocad CAD/CAM software. These technology building blocks enable enhanced digital orthodontic and restorative workflows to improve patient outcomes and practice efficiencies for over 200 thousand doctor customers, and is key to accessing Align’s 500 million consumer market opportunity worldwide. Align has helped doctors treat over 9.6 million patients with the Invisalign system and is driving the evolution in digital dentistry through the Align Digital Platform, our integrated suite of unique, proprietary technologies and services delivered as a seamless, end-to-end solution for patients and consumers, orthodontists and GP dentists, and lab/partners.