Can You Trust Mail Order Braces?
The Increasing Presence of Mail-Order Braces
It’s easy to see why companies such as Smile Direct Club and CrystalBraces are becoming popular. Who wouldn’t want to get straighter teeth for less money and without ever having to go to a dental office?
At-home dental treatments such as teeth whitening are already popular and sold in stores. It’s the next step to see which other procedures can be done without professional help. They are also less expensive by thousands of dollars, so why not?
Mail-order aligners sound like a perfect solution for busy people on a budget and those who dislike going to the dentist. But are they really safe? Braces are still a medical procedure and can severely affect your health if they go wrong.
Though it may seem like these startup companies are issuing the exact same product as an established company like Invisalign, who partners with dentists, they aren’t. Many companies are decades behind in technology, which is how Invisalign treatment is fast and accurate.
Dangers of At-Home Orthodontics
Without the in-person guidance of a dentist like Dr. Stephen Grussmark in Miami, FL, it’s possible for your treatment to go very wrong. In some cases, irreparable damage is done to teeth.
You have to take your own impressions
While some larger companies have locations you can visit for a full mouth scan, most have you take a putty impression of your own mouth.
Impressions are difficult to get right on yourself and if your impression isn’t correct, your entire treatment plan could be wrong from the start. You may not even know it’s wrong until too late because you won’t be going to checkups.
They can cause more damage
Correcting issues from at-home aligners can end up costing you more because of additional and more invasive procedures. Sometimes teeth have to be extracted, which means you’ll need to look into tooth replacement options.
More procedures mean more money. What you didn’t spend on going to a dentist for treatment could very well be funneled into a post-aligner correction fund.
Dentists like Dr. Keith Klaus have started to see more patients come to their practices seeking help for issues that arose from at-home aligners.
They can lead to issues with your bite
Bite problems are a common consequence of at-home aligners. Even if the aligners do make your teeth appear straighter, they can have the side effect of preventing you from biting well.
Take Robin Burns’ story, for example. Three of her four children had braces through an orthodontist, but for her own teeth, she opted for Smile Direct Club. At first, she says she was confident her teeth would be fixed at a lower price.
After eight months, she noticed that although her smile looked better there was a bigger problem. “My molars do not come together even now. Now, when I chew food I have to gum it instead of chew it,” Robin said.
You won’t be able to eat all of your favorite foods if you can’t bite down. This could cause permanent lifestyle changes and lead to tooth loss.
They can make gum disease worse
Gum disease is bad enough when your teeth aren’t shifting around. Using aligners while you have gum disease could also exasperate the condition, so if you don’t see a dentist to clear it out you could have a major issue.
Prior to receiving braces and during treatment, a dentist should examine your teeth for disease or infection that could be harmful. If your orthodontic treatment is done through a dentist, they’ll examine your teeth regularly to ensure your mouth is healthy.
There’s not as much help in an emergency
If you run into an orthodontic emergency during your at-home treatment, help is not as accessible. Though some companies do have a customer support line, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to help you in the ways a dentist could.
How Going to the Dentist Helps
Though many of these companies have dentists working with them to develop treatment plans, you don’t actually get to see and speak with them the same way you would in an office. A dentist can address emergencies or issues with treatment personally and quickly.
Invisalign providers such as Dr. Jeffery Platt in Colorado Springs, CO have access to advanced technology that can help them develop detailed personalized plans for patients. Dentists often use 3D scanning technology that can produce a full picture of your teeth.
Clear teeth aligners also aren’t for everyone. Some people have more complex dental cases that need to be treated using other methods.
Orthodontists can also monitor your teeth as they move and make sure your treatment is on the right track. If any issues start to form they’ll usually be caught before progressing too far, saving you more hassle down the road.
When Benefits Outweigh Risks
Not every story associated with at-home clear aligners ends in misery. Celebrity promotion, as well as stunning before-and-after pictures, paint a positive picture of at-home aligners.
If online stories are to be believed, there are many who are grateful for the changes in their smiles and have gone through the process without issues. There’s always a market for DIY treatments, no matter how risky they can be.
Despite warnings from the American Dental Association and American Orthodontic Association (AAO), companies providing a service that many people are more than willing to opt for. Demand is high for accessible and convenient orthodontic treatment.
When considering which braces you should go for, the AAO created a list of questions to consider when researching treatment options. This can help you decide if you feel comfortable with the methodology of mail-order companies.