What happened

Shares of Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN) were skyrocketing 32.9% higher as of 10:09 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The huge jump came after the orthodontic-device maker announced stellar third-quarter results after the market closed on Wednesday.

So what

Align didn't merely beat analysts' estimates in Q3; it absolutely crushed them. Wall Street expected the company to post revenue of around $514 million. Align generated revenue of $734.1 million in Q3. Analysts looked for adjusted earnings of $0.54 per share. Align more than quadrupled that projection with adjusted earnings of $2.25 per share.

Smiling female patient holding a clear aligner in a dentist's chair

Image source: Getty Images.

How did Align deliver such jaw-dropping Q3 results? It certainly helped that more patients visited dental professionals as COVID-19 restrictions lifted. But Wall Street analysts expected that to happen.

What analysts didn't see coming was just how much pent-up demand there would be for Align's Invisalign clear aligners, especially among teenagers. The company reported a 118% year-over-year increase in total leads. Part of this impressive jump stemmed from Align's campaign to reach teens and mothers of teens. Social media influencers including dancer Charli D'Amelio and actress Marsai Martin also helped boost awareness of Invisalign.

Now what

Can Align Technology keep the good times rolling? CEO Joe Hogan thinks so. He stated in the company's Q3 earnings press release, "Our overall revenue momentum has continued into October." The main risk for the healthcare stock is that visits to dental professionals could fall off if the numbers of COVID-19 cases increase to the point that restrictions are reinstated or consumers opt to stay home.