During the holiday season, it becomes more obvious than ever how fortunate we are to exist in a time where almost anything we need can be ordered online and delivered to our doorstep in just a day or two. It’s possible, however, that our need for convenience and quick service has carried over into other aspects of our lives that it shouldn’t have.
For example, many people now seek out the fastest, easiest, and cheapest methods for straightening their smile. While we’ve seen some truly amazing advances in orthodontic treatment in recent years—including clear aligner therapy like Invisalign— this has led to an increase in the number of at-home treatments crowding the market.
“Mail order” aligners are a hot commodity, and we certainly understand the appeal of these products. If nothing else, they’ve got some exceptional marketing behind them! However, orthodontics is far more complex than just clicking a button. There’s a reason that orthodontists like Dr. Parikh study and train for many years before hanging out their orthodontic shingle!
If you’ve found yourself tempted by companies promising you a perfect smile with at-home orthodontic kits, keep reading to learn more about how these systems work, why we don’t recommend them, and how Hidden Smiles Orthodontics can give you a healthy smile using a variety of treatment methods that are safe and effective.
What are at-home aligners?
As an alternative to receiving customized treatment with an experienced orthodontist, direct-to-consumer companies offer up a cheaper alternative by supplying patients with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. After an impression has been taken and mailed back in, they are meant to be reviewed by an on-site dentist or technician who will 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 the patient with instructions on how to wear them.
The hidden dangers of DIY treatments
With a low price point and no in-office visits to contend with, it’s easy to see why “DIY” orthodontic services are attractive to consumers. Would-be patients should know, however, that the criteria for being accepted is very loose. In fact, many people are approved for treatment even though they shouldn’t be! This comes with a variety of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results. This is exactly why many orthodontists and dentists do not endorse them—including Dr. Parikh.
No exam before treatment begins
Orthodontists don’t just straighten teeth. They’re also able to identify and treat oral conditions from simple to complex, a process that begins with a comprehensive orthodontic examination. Together with high-quality digital photos and x-rays, this evaluation allows an orthodontist like Dr. Parikh to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient based on their unique smile and specific needs.
This information is also used to create the ideal bite for a patient, a difficult but important part of treatment. Misalignment can cause pain, discomfort, and uneven wear and tear to the teeth. Not only that, but many oral health issues are easy to overlook with at-home kits. That’s because cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This can lead to trouble since the teeth and gums should always be in good shape before attempting tooth movement.
Lack of supervision throughout the treatment process
Routine check-ups are a critical part of the orthodontic process. These visits allow an orthodontist to observe how the patient’s teeth are moving, and if everything is proceeding according to their particular treatment plan. Adjustments can also be made at any time if they become necessary.
Sadly, mail order aligner services leave patients without any meaningful supervision. That means aligners can be poorly fitted, or they may move the teeth too quickly or more slowly than expected. As noted above, cavities or gum disease may develop. If there’s no orthodontist overseeing treatment, these problems may go untreated, causing damage to your overall oral health as well as your bite. In some cases, patients may even end up with more serious issues than they had when they began!
The treatment isn’t customized the way it should be
While clear aligner therapy can be a great choice for many patients, not everyone is an ideal candidate. In particular, cases that are fairly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide.
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Parikh knows how important it is to discuss a patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and goals before recommending any particular treatment method. Because they don’t have access to a patient for an examination, x-rays, or photos, mail order businesses may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a suitable candidate for aligners.
Trust your smile to the true experts at Hidden Smiles Orthodontics
While direct-to-consumer aligner companies may seem like an easy and ideal way to straighten your smile and save you some money, they could prove more costly than you expect over time! Even the American Association of Orthodontists has 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?”
Good orthodontists are often able to compete with the cost and time that many of these mail order companies claim. In fact, our practice offers a variety of treatment options for patients of all ages. We also have a number of payment options designed to make high-quality orthodontic care available for every budget!
Your first consultation with us is always free. This visit includes a complete examination with Dr. Parikh as well as an explanation of the options available to you. For those who are excited to take their first step now, we also offer a virtual smile assessment online, which will be followed up by a consultation at your convenience.
A smile that looks good and feels great does require an investment of your time and funds. When it comes to orthodontic treatment, however, you really do get what you pay for! Mail order aligner companies are simply unable to provide patients the same level of care a trained orthodontist can.
Only an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Parikh has the education, training, and equipment necessary to give you the most effective treatment options and best results! If you’re in the Long Island area and would like to learn more about how to safely achieve a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today and schedule your complimentary consultation!