Thanks to their slick marketing campaigns, you’ve probably seen ads recently for clear aligners you can use from home. These companies promote a “self-treatment” option in the form of mail-order aligners, something that can be tempting for consumers looking to straighten their teeth from home. However, there are many questions surrounding the safety and efficiency of this approach to orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontists, dentists, and other dental professionals encourage patients to steer clear of these direct-to-consumer companies. Keep reading to learn why you should avoid DTC aligners and instead trust your smile to an expert team like Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics!
What are direct-to-consumer aligners? How do they work?
The companies that offer clear aligners through the mail could be described as a form of “online orthodontics.” Instead of visiting an orthodontic office for an exam, everything is handled through their website and via mail. You submit an application to the company of your choice, and once it’s approved, you can either visit one of their local shops or have a kit sent to your home to make a 3-D mold of your teeth. A technician or dentist will then use that mold to create a series of clear aligners to slowly move your teeth into more ideal positions over time.
Straightening your smile in this way can take anywhere from several weeks to many months to complete, depending on how severe the misalignment is. During this time, your progress will be monitored using selfies you provide at regular intervals. While this may seem like a fairly straightforward process, anyone considering these direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies should proceed with caution. There are a number of risks and concerns associated with this kind of care, some of which can have a lasting negative impact on your smile and your oral health. We’ll highlight some of these issues below.
No orthodontic visit is required
One of the biggest selling points for DTC aligners is that no orthodontic visits are necessary. However, this is also one of its biggest red flags! You’re not required to visit a dentist or orthodontist prior to beginning treatment with these companies, and you won’t see one at any point in the process, either. To understand why this is such a problem, it helps to understand more about tooth movement.
You may not realize it, but moving your teeth into more optimal positions will impact your entire mouth. Even in mild cases, straightening the teeth will affect your gums, bones, and the roots of your teeth. An orthodontist is trained to ensure all of these are healthy before and during the treatment process to produce safe movement of the teeth.
At Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics, your first visit will include digital photographs of your teeth and a discussion with one of our doctors about any specific areas of concern. We use Invisalign clear aligners at our practice and will be able to let you know during this appointment if you’re a good fit for this system.
If you do decide to move forward with Invisalign treatment, we’ll begin by taking a set of digital photos and x-rays to create a 3D image of your mouth. Your first set of aligners will be generated from these images, ensuring a custom fit that’s comfortable and effective. You’ll be scheduled for regular follow-up visits with us throughout the treatment process so we can track your progress and ensure your teeth are moving in a healthy way.
Once treatment is complete, you’ll be provided with a retainer to keep your newly straightened teeth in place. As you can see, you’ll be supported by our expert team from start to finish!
DTC companies rely on computers to predict your entire treatment plan
Most direct-to-consumer companies use computer systems to predict the movements your teeth need to make to give you a straighter smile. You may be wondering why this is an issue since we use computers for a wide variety of complex tasks every day!
The truth is, teeth don’t always follow those computer-predicted movements. Because DTC companies create all of a patient’s aligners at the same time, this can spell trouble for those whose movements fall outside the predicted ones. The aligners won’t fit the way they should, which may lead to discomfort, pain, and subpar results.
With no orthodontist involved in overseeing the process, patients often miss the signs of this until it’s too late. We have seen patients who are diagnosed with crossbites, misalignments, and other serious dental issues after using mail-order aligners. These patients may also be experiencing frequent headaches, aches and pains in the neck and jaw muscles, and difficulty chewing. Some even have nerve damage or broken teeth from poorly fitted aligners!
Clear aligners aren’t suitable for everyone
While clear aligners can be an excellent option for many patients, they aren’t suitable for everyone. For example, patients with especially severe or complex cases may require more precise tooth control than a removable orthodontic appliance can provide. For these patients, a different treatment method like traditional or clear braces may be a better option.
DTC companies also assume clients will make good dental hygiene choices, have regular check-ups with a dentist, and be proactive with their oral health. These are not guaranteed, of course, which can be a problem. The teeth and gums should be in good condition before attempting any type of tooth movement, but having a patient provide their own images and impressions, means that cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues can be missed or worsen over time.
One of the benefits of regular visits with an orthodontist is that your oral health will be monitored, and treatment can be adjusted if and when it becomes necessary! When you trust your smile to orthodontic experts like Dr. Davis and Dr. Goldberg, you’ll have access to trusted support, guidance, and supervision throughout your orthodontic journey. This is something direct-to-consumer companies just aren’t able to provide, leaving patients more or less on their own during the treatment process.
Leave your smile to the experts at Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics
Here at Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics, we believe anyone interested in straightening their smile should consult with an orthodontist before making any decisions or beginning treatment. We offer a complimentary consultation that will determine if treatment is necessary, and if so, which option would be best for your specific smile. Our customized treatment plans are built around your unique needs, preferences, and goals. You won’t find that level of skilled, supervised care with a company offering mail-order aligners!