Who owns STL files from orthodontic treatment / Invisalign treatment?

Jun 21, 2023
Hello. I am new to the forums and I registered to ask a specific question the answer to which might be valuable to other people, too.

Are there any orthodontists in the forum? I am trying to understand a subject matter better.

I had orthodontic treatment at a dental clinic and chose Invisalign. During treatment there were two 3D mouth scans performed with an iTero scanner - the first at the beginning of the treatment, the second after the treatment with aligners was finished in order to get the data needed for my retainers to be manufactured. I opted for Invisalign brand (Vivera retainers).

The entire treatment took place in a country which is not my native country (not the US). Becoming more mindful of my finances and knowing that the retainers have to be eventually replaced I recently asked the dental clinic in which I underwent treatment to send me the STL (the 3D scan files) that were taken during treatment. The reason is that I believe in owning the data myself and being able to in the future being able to choose a contractor that manufactures spare retainers according to my own preferences which might include financial attractiveness of options as well as access to the data if I want to use it with an orthodontist in my home country.

The clinic disclosed the first file with me but told me they are unable to send me the second file (of the scan that was performed after the aligner treatment had finished). I didn‘t just accept this as an answer, yet since I do not know if this is correct, if this can be handled differently and therefore what options I have.

The clinic stated that they are unable to do so because they could not access the file as it - according to them - is blanketed under Invisalign.

Technically my understanding is the following:

Since both files were taken with the same equipment and both times files had to be stored after the scan was completed both files should be equally accessible to the dental clinic In which there created. I think that is obvious.

I am aware that both the dental clinic, as well as Invisalign are not likely to be cheerful that I want access to the files as it might lessen the chance that they will earn money from me in the future but I would like to know what is actually happening.

I am aware that this is likely controversial. I have my interests. The clinic has their interests. Invisalign has their interests.

I could argue that I paid for the treatment including the scans and therefore am entitled to receive the scan files. Invisalign could argue that the second scan was performed as part of their proprietary Vivera retainer manufacturing process and that they are under no obligation to disclose the file - just as an artisan could argue that a physical or digital model they created as part of manufacturing a commissioned work for me is their property unless agreed otherwise beforehand. The dental clinic could argue - I am not exactly sure and in any case would or will likely have to look into the contract but I would like to understand the intricacies.

Are there any orthodontists who can comment on this?

I can also commission a 3D scan of one of my untouched pairs of retainers and commission a retainer manufacturing contractor of my choice to create retainers from that file. I am confident that I can find a workaround but I don’t want to waste my resources. The question is: Do I have the right to owning that file? And: Is the clinic actually able to provide the file to me?

Obviously Invisalign earns a lot of money with re-commissions for Vivera retainers because the margin is very large. It’s part of their business model. Personally speaking, I will not throw away my money if I can commission retainers to be made that work just as well for a fraction of the cost by people who specialize in the manufacturing of such. I am - obviously - searching for a solution to minimize costs for my orthodontic maintenance - and considering the actual manufacturing and material cost of retainers I believe this is a wise choice.

I‘m curious if there is anyone here who can comment on this in a qualified way. If there is, or if there are several people I would be eager to hear what you know.

I‘d like to say I am not so much interested in discussing the ethical side of things. So if you have an opinion on the subject matter but cannot provide further value I would encourage you not to discuss this. Maybe there are other people interested in this question. In any case the people who could truly provide value would be those who know - likely professionally. Thank you.
Nov 4, 2023
This is unfortunate and I have the same issue. It seems your best option would be to order retainers that come with a 3D printed model. This way you'll have a physical "copy" of the scans, even if you don't have the scans themselves. This is what I'm doing. It's truly absurd that they don't share these files with us - I've had a week of back and forth interactions with my dentist's office just to get a replacement pair of retainers. They did give me a 3D Model when I finished treatment but it's entirely useless because they scanned me before I got my lingual wires, which are the v-loop kind and are quite bulky. If it's any consolation, most labs won't accept scans anyway unless they come directly from a doctor's office. Good luck to you!

Nov 7, 2023
The ownership of STL files from orthodontic or Invisalign treatment can be a source of concern, especially when it comes to your own dental health records.

In most cases, the STL files, which are digital 3D models of your teeth and mouth, are typically owned by the orthodontist or dentist who provided the treatment. However, it's essential to discuss this with your dental provider to clarify any concerns you may have about access or ownership of these files.

Your dental professional should be willing to explain their policies and procedures regarding patient records and files. Transparency and open communication are essential to ensure you have a clear understanding of your own dental data, allowing you to make informed decisions about your treatment and future dental care.

Your peace of mind and trust in your dental team are vital, so don't hesitate to ask questions and seek clarity on this matter. Your oral health is a personal and important part of your life, and you deserve to have a full understanding of your own dental records.

Sep 27, 2023
Shareholders of Align Technology owns it, which is a public company making $1 billion in revenue per quarter with $1.3 billion cash on the balance sheet. Gross profit margin of 77%.

Align Technology makes $165 million per quarter from Imaging Systems. Those STL files are a gold mine.



Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Members online

No members online now.

Forum statistics

Latest member

Latest Threads