As the holidays draw near, we’re frequently reminded how lucky we are to be living in a time where almost anything we need can be ordered online and delivered direct to our door in just a day or two. While this can be incredibly helpful for those of us who leave shopping to the last minute, it’s not necessarily a good thing when carried over into other areas of our lives. Orthodontics is a great example of that!
Many people are now looking for faster, easier, and more subtle methods for straightening their smiles. We’ve seen some really remarkable advances in orthodontic treatment in recent years, with clear aligner therapy like Invisalign providing a popular alternative to traditional braces. Unfortunately, this demand has also led to an increase in the number of “treatments” available from home, including mail order aligners.
Here at Champlain Orthodontics, we understand why these products are appealing. They’ve got an enviable marketing team behind them! But the truth is, the orthodontic process is far more complex than just clicking a button. After all, there’s a reason why orthodontists like Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton must train for many years before putting their skills into practice.
If you’ve found yourself tempted recently by companies who promise you a perfect smile from home, take a look below to learn more about how these systems work and why we don’t recommend them.
What are mail order aligners?
There are a number of direct-to-consumer companies who currently offer an alternative to the traditional method of straightening teeth. Instead of receiving customized treatment with an experienced orthodontic practice, these companies supply patients with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once an impression has been taken and mailed back in, an on-site dentist or technician will purportedly examine it and determine if the patient is a candidate for the company’s aligners. If the patient is approved for the process, the aligners will be made and delivered to them with instructions on how to use them.
How DIY orthodontics can be dangerous
With a lower price point and the added convenience of not having to leave home for treatment, “DIY” aligners can be attractive to patients. It’s important to note, however, that their criteria for accepting patients is very loose. In fact, many people are approved for treatment even if they shouldn’t be! This can lead to a variety of potential risks, along with unsatisfactory results. For this reason, most orthodontists and dentists do not endorse them.
No examination before initiating treatment
Besides straightening teeth, orthodontists are also able to identify and treat a wide variety of oral conditions. This process begins with a comprehensive orthodontic examination that will generally include high-quality digital photos and x-rays. A thorough evaluation like this is what allows orthodontists to create a customized treatment plan for each patient based on their own unique needs.
This information is also used to create the ideal bite for a patient, which is a difficult but essential part of treatment. Misalignments can cause pain, discomfort, and uneven wear and tear to the teeth. Additionally, oral health issues may be overlooked with at-home kits since cavities, gum disease, and other problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This can be problematic since the teeth and gums should always be in good shape before attempting to move the teeth with any type of orthodontic appliance, including aligners.
Lack of supervision throughout treatment
Routine check-ups with an orthodontist are an important part of the treatment process. These visits allow the doctor to ensure that the patient’s teeth are moving safely, efficiently, and according to their treatment plan. They’ll also have the chance to make any adjustments if they become necessary.
Mail order aligners leave patients to navigate treatment on their own without any meaningful supervision. That means aligners can end up fitting poorly without the patient ever noticing. The teeth might move too quickly or more slowly than anticipated. Cavities or gum disease may develop. When an orthodontist is not overseeing treatment, these problems can go unnoticed or untreated, causing damage to a patient’s overall oral health as well as their bite. In some cases, patients may end up with more serious issues than they had when they began treatment!
Treatment isn’t customized based on a patient’s specific needs
Although clear aligner therapy can be a great choice for many patients, not everyone will be an ideal candidate. Cases that are particularly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than an aligner can provide. Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton will always look at a patient’s unique needs, lifestyle, and goals before recommending a treatment method. Companies offering at-home aligner kits don’t have access to patients for an in-person examination, x-rays, or photos, so they may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a suitable candidate for aligners.
Don’t trust your smile to anything less than an expert!
Direct-to-consumer aligner companies may seem like a smart way to straighten your smile and save some money, too, but if you’re not careful, they could prove more costly than you’d expect! Take it from the American Association of Orthodontists, who asked:
“What other transforming medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?”
The good news is, many orthodontists are able to compete with the cost and time that many of these mail order companies claim. Here at Champlain Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer a variety of treatment options for patients of all ages! We also have a number of payment options available. Not only that, but your first consultation with us is always free of charge! This visit includes an examination by one of our doctors as well as an explanation of the options available to you.
There’s no getting around the fact that a truly perfect smile requires an investment of your time and funds. When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you really do get what you pay for! Mail order aligner companies may not be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and safe treatment options, and simply cannot offer patients the same level of care a trained orthodontist can.
With experienced orthodontists like Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton, you can rest assured that they have all the education, skills, and training necessary to give you the most effective treatment options— and the best results! If you’re in Williston, St. Albans, or the surrounding communities and would like to learn more about achieving a beautiful smile safely and effectively, get in touch! We’d love to schedule a complimentary consultation for you.