Clear aligners have been a hit since they were first introduced in the 90’s. Patients love them because they are a discreet way to straighten teeth. When Invisalign’s patents began expiring in 2017, many companies jumped on the clear aligner bandwagon and began manufacturing their own versions of the popular orthodontic treatment method. Many of these companies create aligners that are equivalent to the original Invisalign aligners in effectiveness. When prescribed and overseen by a skilled orthodontist, they are wonderful treatment options. However, there is one type of clear aligner you should avoid at all costs. You’ve surely seen them advertised on your social media feeds…
Direct-to-consumer (or mail order) aligners
Presented as an affordable DIY option that allows patients to “cut out the middleman”, direct-to-consumer aligner companies appear to have a lot of satisfied customers when you go by their paid ads and sponsored blog posts. Searching the internet for honest, unpaid reviews tells a different story. These companies allow you to take your own impressions at home or visit a physical location to have a team member take a digital scan. Then, a remote “professional” reviews these records, without x-rays, and your treatment plan is created. The aligners are shipped to your home and then you start your treatment. There isn’t any follow up by that doctor to make sure your teeth are healthy (no root resorption occurring), checking on your occlusion (your bite), or that the teeth are moving where they are supposed to be moving. Unfortunately, when choosing a safe and effective treatment option for yourself or your child, direct-to-consumer aligners are not the best option.
Aligners aren’t for everyone
First and foremost, clear aligners are not a suitable treatment option for everyone. If you have a more severe case, you may very well achieve better and faster results by choosing traditional braces. These companies primarily exist to make money, and are not likely to turn down paying customers even if they are not ideal aligner candidates.
Orthodontic treatment is a medical procedure
Straightening teeth isn’t as straightforward as the marketing departments at these companies want you to believe. Orthodontics is both a science and an art. There is so much more to treatment than just moving the visible parts of your teeth. Treatment can sometimes get complicated, and you will want an accessible professional overseeing it in case anything goes wrong. You will generally get better results by going the traditional route, because your friendly local orthodontist won’t rest until your case is perfect!
No exam before, and less supervision during
Good orthodontists evaluate your teeth, jaw, and skeletal structure before ever creating a treatment plan for you. Detailed photos and x-rays are taken and carefully studied, a comprehensive in-person exam is performed, and typically you will be asked to visit your dentist before treatment begins to ensure your oral health is up to par. During treatment, you see the orthodontist every six to eight weeks so he or she can check on how things are going and make modifications to the treatment plan when necessary. With direct-to-consumer aligners, you get your full set of aligners and that’s it. If you have questions or problems, you call the 800 number and speak with a customer service representative.
No bite correction, risk of tooth damage
Direct-to-consumer aligners may straighten your teeth, but aligners by themselves are unfortunately not so great for correcting your occlusion. The bite is extremely important. A patient can have a less-than-ideal bite and not even know it. Often an orthodontist will add buttons or other appliances to aligner treatment to correct bite issues. With direct-to-consumer aligners, this is not an option. A bad bite is not only uncomfortable to live with, it can cause major problems over time like tooth loosening, cracking, and even loss.
At Peterson Family Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a beautiful smile. It’s worth the investment to put your treatment in the hands of a professional, like Dr. Peterson, who can directly supervise your journey and get it right the first time. Free consultations, interest-free payment plans, and everything’s-included pricing can help make high-quality treatment accessible for your family. Dr. Peterson never wants finances to be the reason that you or your child can’t get the smile of your dreams.