Over the recent years there has a been a huge increase in the number of websites selling mail order aligners, promising to deliver straight smiles in just a few months, at a low cost and in the comfort of your own home without the need to visit the dentist's office. While this might work for some people with small aesthetic issues, in the majority of other cases it is simply a waste of money. Our orthodontics expert is here to tell the five reasons why it is better to straighten your teeth on professional prescription and under a specialist's supervision.
1. No help when things go wrong...
The main aspect of ordering teeth aligners online is that everything is done without visiting a dental office. From the initial ''consultation'', taking the impressions, to receiving the aligners, everything is done without any physical contact with an experienced professional. While these subscription services promise that each case is evaluated by a specialist, you will never know if and how your case has been looked at and what qualifications the person who designs your treatment, actually holds. When you visit an orthodontics expert for the first time, they do not just assess your teeth alignment but they assess you from many different angles including: the quality of your bones and gums, your underlying diseases and your hygiene. All of these aspects can affect their decision on whether you are a suitable candidate for orthodontic treatment and if so, what appliance will be best in your individual case. For example, patients with underlying bone disease such as osteoporosis need special consideration and more intensive treatment supervision to look out for signs of osteonecrosis. An orthodontics expert who regularly sees and examines your progress will know what to look out for and what action to take if things go wrong. With the mail order aligner distributors you progress through treatment with no check-ups and, if problems arise, the only point of contact is usually a customer services representative who, chances are, has no proper training to be able to spot issues needing attention.
2. Designed by technicians, not orthodontists
Before you receive you aligners, be it through a dentist or an online subscription service, your treatment has to be designed using a specialised 3D software which allows for teeth to be freely moved to the desired position. This treatment planning is done by the company producing the aligners. When we submit cases of our own patients, even with renowned companies, we find that the treatment planning is clearly done by technicians and not by orthodontists because, although the teeth look straight at the end of the initial treatment simulation, more often than not the final result does not meet defined orthodontic treatment outcome standards (such as bringing teeth into triads, achieving Class 1 of Angle's classification and normalising the midline). Our own experts must then contact the designers and submit necessary changes to the treatment design so that the treatment outcome conforms with standards known to orthodontic professionals. With mail order aligners, your treatment outcome will be completely in the hands of the designing technician and while the alignment of your teeth will surely be improved, you have no guarantee that the treatment will be done according to orthodontic standards and with no professional overlooking your treatment, no one will be at your side to point out any irregularities.
3. Supervising hygiene
Everyone knows that oral hygiene is important. But sadly, too many of us are unaware that hygiene is a cornerstone of oral health and bad hygiene can adversely affect your orthodontic treatment, sometimes with irreversible consequences. As you can read in our earlier blog post (read it here), bad oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease and gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Without undergoing a physical examination of your bones and gums and without proper close supervision, you are risking that too fast movement generated by the orthodontic treatment will add to the existing instability of teeth caused by gum disease and potentiate tooth loss. It is noteworthy that gum disease and gum recession are not absolute contraindications for orthodontic treatment. There actually is evidence that orthodontic treatment can improve the stability of teeth and condition of gums but it must be supervised and controlled by a professional who knows and understands this condition. For this reason, orthodontists recommend attending regular cleaning appointments which is not provided by mail order aligner distributors.
4. Incorrect fit
When you get aligners made through a dental clinic, the dentist takes great care to make immaculate impressions of your teeth, either with an impression material or using a scanner. Achieving the perfect reflection of your teeth is extremely important and even the smallest irregularities can result in the aligners fitting poorly. A bad fit will not only affect the treatment but can also make the process uncomfortable or even painful with formation of sores on the gums. Taking a good impression is a skill dentists develop with experience. It requires mixing the material to the adequate consistency, choosing the right size of the tray and placing it into the mouth in the correct manner. When ordering aligners online, you are expected to take the impressions yourself and, as most people do not have the necessary experience to take good impressions, there is a huge room for error.
5. Disappointing results
Poor treatment outcomes are unfortunately common with aligners ordered online. This can obviously be extremely frustrating and leads many to seek professional help in order to achieve results they had expected in the first place. In the end this can add up to costs higher than what the patient would have paid if they had gone to an orthodontic clinic in the first place. Sadly, companies selling these mail order aligners commonly refuse to take any blame for poor treatment outcomes, even requiring clients to agree to accept all responsibility over their treatment and its results.
Orthodontic treatment is a medical procedure and, as all medical procedures, it comes with its own set of risks and contraindications. Although deciding to straighten your teeth with mail order aligners may at first seem more cost effective, you can find yourself running into more costs if things go wrong or if you don't achieve the desired results. Our clinic offers many different aligner systems at a wide range of prices and all provided under a watchful eye of our trained professionals.