DIY aligners — Safe or Sorry?

Over the past couple of years, many companies have begun offering DIY or direct to consumer aligners in response to the success and growing orthodontic market share of Invisalign. These start up companies tout their products as a simpler, more cost-effective solution to straighten teeth. The BIG question is, are these products safe and effective?

This vs that…

What is the process for DIY aligners?

SmileDirectClub, Candid, EasySmile, Dandy, Byte are among some of the companies offering DIY clear aligners. For a small initial fee, the “patient” receives a kit with instructions on how to take their own dental impressions and upload photos of their teeth using a smartphone. Consumers are also asked to sign a pledge that they have seen a dentist and had X-rays taken. While none of these companies asks to see the X-ray images, a dentist “on staff’ determines if the case is suitable for treatment. If approved, the treatment fee is about $2000.


Things to consider with DIY aligners

In simple cases, some patients will achieve benefits. Will this type of treatment address important issues regarding the bite relationship or the health of the jaw joints and gums, as it relates to the orthodontic problem? No, it cannot. It behooves the patient to determine what is right for themselves first by seeking a complete diagnosis from an orthodontic specialist. Bypassing the orthodontist results in the patient making decisions about their care based only on what they perceive as important – not what is medically appropriate. Only a trained and certified orthodontist has the knowledge to determine what is best for a patient.

What can go wrong with DIY orthodontics?

There are many things that can potentially go wrong DIY orthodontic treatment. We’re not saying these happen to everyone who uses direct to consumer orthodontics, but there are significant risks.

Gum Disease & Gum Loss

Before any orthodontic treatment begins, it’s important that a dentist or orthodontist check a patient’s gums and supporting bone for any sign of periodontal disease. If teeth are moved within diseased gums, there is a risk of long-term damage and subsequent gum recession.

Teeth Movement

Sure, you might be successful in moving your teeth with DIY methods, but will they move in the right direction or at the right angle? It takes years of experience to know how to shift teeth into their desired position in a safe and effective way. If not, teeth may be prone to relapse or undesirable wear due to improper positioning.

Loss of Bone and Teeth

The worst outcome for a person doing DIY orthodontics is to lose a tooth or loss of bone that holds teeth in place. Both have a devastating impact. The cost to place an implant and crown to replace a lost tooth will far exceed the initial DIY treatment fee.

Dissatisfaction with the Result

Many people are heartbroken when their mail order orthodontics doesn’t deliver the result they had hoped (or were promised). They may have spent years wishing they could fix their teeth and when they saw the ad for budget orthodontics, they thought it would answer their wishes. Now their only option is to live with the outcome or pay an orthodontist to achieve the desired result.

DIY Beware!

Just because a consumer could straighten their own teeth doesn’t mean that they should. There is a legitimate reason why orthodontists acquire seven years of post-college education to become experts at the science and art of orthodontics. It is naive to think that such qualifications can be matched by an “ortho-by-mail” and without a supervision process. DIY orthodontics could cause permanent damage to teeth, such as root shortening, bone or tooth loss, tooth decay or other serious problems.

Taking care of your smile should be important. Let Visage Orthodontics, your Santa Fe Invisalign expert, be a part of the team that gives you a smile you can trust and believe in! Call us at 505-670-6145 or visit our contact page for a complimentary consultation.