As COVID-19 necessitated business closures and stay-at-home orders across the U.S., Americans had to quickly find new ways to do everyday tasks. Grocery runs became grocery deliveries, take-out became how we ate out, and trips to bricks-and-mortar stores were replaced by online shopping. But bringing some services to customers can be more complicated than others – for example, orthodontic care.
Stay-at-home orders and safety precautions during the pandemic meant many oral care providers needed to postpone patient visits. Suddenly, patients in active treatment to straighten their smiles were in jeopardy: As teeth transition, bone cells break down to allow for teeth to move. A lapse in treatment could revert teeth to their original position.
For the many patients in active treatment with 3M™ Clarity™ Aligner trays, there was an urgent need for passive aligners to hold their teeth in place and prevent any relapse.
Thanks to work by the Clinician Support team for 3M Oral Care and workers at the product manufacturing plant, patients were able to get the trays they needed to keep their treatments from regressing – and were able to get those treatments moving forward again when businesses began reopening.
Laurie Tye, Clinician Support team member, recalled the uptick in requests and inquiries at the outset of the pandemic: “Doctors were reaching out to us, saying, ‘my patient is wearing their last aligner’ – and we wanted to be as responsive as possible to that need.”
The team quickly pivoted and planned to have the plant ship needed aligners direct to patient homes while their doctor’s offices were closed.
Given their experience in orthodontic manufacturing and their direct-to-end user shipping process, meeting the passive aligner requests wasn’t a problem for the 3M Clarity Aligner plant workers. The surge in orders to restart treatments posed more of a challenge.
“We saw a significant uptick in orders,” said Brett Aber, manufacturing product manager for Clarity Aligners. “Our task then was to support the high demand. We rose to the challenge and made adjustments to ensure orders were filled within normal delivery timelines.”
While the pandemic created many roadblocks for businesses, it also created opportunities. For the teams making and supporting the 3M Clarity Aligner, it was an opportunity to demonstrate what 3M has known for a long time.
“Our plant has a 50-year history in orthodontics. The focus is on understanding customer needs,” said Beth Edgar, global business director for OCSD. “And with the responsiveness of our Clinician Support team, we’re able to provide our customers with exceptional oral care products and service.”