Direct-to-Consumer Clear Aligners (TRUTH ALERT 2019)

Clear Aligners, like braces industry leader Invisalign, have become very popular in the dental world.  Their accessibility is so widespread that you no longer have to go to your local orthodontist to get them. Unfortunately, there is great public debate on whether or not Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) aligner trays are a safe way to have this treatment done.




What Is All The Noise About Direct-to-Consumer Clear Aligners These Days?

Mail order, or direct-to-consumer (DTC), clear teeth alignment firms are appearing all over the country these days. The convenience and significantly lower price of having them ship out the trays (removable braces) directly to your door can not be discounted. Orthodontists can understand this appeal.  But there are reasons why DTC companies can provide the treatment cheaper than traditional orthodontic offices.

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) has issued a statement regarding at home DTC orthodontic treatment. The AAO believes that at home orthodontic care puts the dental health of individuals using them at risk. They believe that straightening your teeth is safest and most effective when trained and experienced orthodontists monitor your bite, teeth, and entire mouth, while using only the best materials for your oral health. In this article, we will consider the various reasons why you might want to choose in office orthodontic treatment instead of DTC home delivery.


Advantages to In Person (In Office) Orthodontic Treatment

What the direct mail clear aligner companies offer is the convenience of direct to your door shipments at lower prices. They still need the supervision of dentists (not always trained orthodontists) in order to move you through the various aligner stages, so they partner up with these professionals in order to follow your orthodontic treatment and progress remotely over the Internet.  The doctor of record doesn’t personally examine the patient, only the impressions and photos submitted by the patient.  

Conversely, the local orthodontist offers face to face personal treatment on an individual basis. This entails a lot of personalized attention and supervision for you the patient. This includes all of the following for customers:

  • Clinical examination in person of your entire mouth, gums, and jaw health from a licensed orthodontist.
  • Personal monitoring of the treatment covering not only the alignment of the teeth, but also bite function, jaw alignment, gum health, and correlation between your teeth and your body’s skeletal structures.
  • Ongoing and continuous personalized photos, X-rays, and also digital scans of your mouth all through the lengthy treatment process.


What Are the Reasons to Choose Orthodontist Administered Treatment?

There are a variety of reasons for why you are better off working with a local orthodontist to administer your program and treatment. This starts with how advanced clear aligner (Invisalign) treatment is. As the world’s most cutting edged clear alignment system offered, it provides fantastic use, wear, and support. This is the only aligner tray that is constructed out of the SmartTrack material. This leading technology allows for aligners that fit better, are more comfortable, and are easier to take out and put back in than those which are made from generic materials. The state of the art nature of these trays provides a primary reason for letting local orthodontists oversee the program. They may require minute changes for each patient in order to be most effective, and a remote doctor over the Internet is not likely to recognize this.


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Why This Treatment Is Different?

One thing that makes these Invisalign aligners so different from other generic aligners is the way that they are molded to the teeth. They are never cut straight or across the gum lime. This gives ideal eye appeal and patient comfort in an aligner. With this treatment, the program provides repeatedly designed and altered aligner trays as necessary to attain that beautiful straight smile.

Because of the complexity of these trays, they require the assistance of local orthodontists. This is in order to properly straighten the teeth as well as to correct the bite of the patient. This is all the more true in more complex cases.

It is true that those patients who only suffer from minor spacing or crowding issues in their teeth may be able to take advantage of the direct mailing companies. However it is unlikely that these direct mail companies will be able to guarantee properly aligning your bite in the process.


The Importance of Orthodontists Administered Attachments

Attachments are yet another reason why using an orthodontist is so important. Direct-to-Consumer aligners will not utilize attachments on the teeth. These attachments are small tooth-color ridges that are cemented to the teeth. The orthodontists put them on certain teeth in order to help move these individual teeth more efficiently and accurately. Such attachments that apply the force to the proper location work like a door handle assisting you in opening up a door. Orthodontists are unanimous in their opinion that clear aligner treatment goes better and quicker with the use of such attachments. Of course, the attachments are removed by the orthodontist after treatment is complete.  


Questions to Ask Direct-to-Consumer Aligner Companies

To help you make that decision, here are some questions to ask of direct to consumer orthodontic companies before choosing to use their services:  Will there be a licensed orthodontist examining my teeth (in person) before the clear aligners are placed?  How can you tell that my teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment without seeing x-rays?  If no x-rays are taken, will there be someone communicating with my dentist’s office to make sure my teeth and gums are healthy enough to receive orthodontic treatment?  Will the DTC company be placing attachments, which will allow for more predictable movements of the teeth? 

What is the name of the dentist or orthodontist supervising my treatment?  Where is the orthodontist physically located?  Where did they receive their orthodontic training?  Can I speak with the orthodontist and have my questions about treatment answered?  What happens if I have a problem with my clear aligners?  Is there a location I can visit to see someone about my problems?  If my clear aligners don’t fit properly, will there be additional charges to make more?  Are retainers after treatment is complete included in my fee?


In Conclusion

Lastly, you should consider the cases where there are emergencies with the teeth moving treatment. Though this is a safe and proven method, there are always possible complications and potential risks that can occur. If you were self-administering your aligner trays, how would you handle such an emergency? The real question is, who would take responsibility for dealing with the emergency when the remote orthodontists and aligner tray company were thousands of miles away?

A local orthodontist can see you quickly (during or after hours if necessary) to handle any emergency with your aligner trays that create discomfort or pain. Besides these emergencies, orthodontists in person will conduct routine periodic checkups in order to ascertain if any complications arise that need to be handled by adjusting your treatment plan.

All of these many reasons help to explain why both personal evaluation and supervision in treatment are important, if not outright necessary, during orthodontic treatment. After all, there is far more to developing that beautiful and healthy smile than simply moving around the parts of your teeth that are clearly visible. Remember that orthodontic treatment is changing your smile and mouth. When this is done improperly, it could cause costly, and even irreversible damage, like changed bites, gum recession, tooth loss, and other significant and painful issues.  DTC aligner treatment may be right for you, but consider your options carefully before making the final decision.  




Contact us Today

If you choose to use an orthodontist instead of a DTC company to straighten your teeth with clear aligners, we are here to help, and will be with you every step of the way! We’ll be happy to answer the above questions to make you feel at ease about choosing our office to deliver the highest quality orthodontic care available today.  Call Drs. Nease and Higginbotham today! You can schedule an evaluation and get started with your treatment in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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2455 E. Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29307
Phone: (864) 579-7700


Direct-to-Consumer Clear Aligners (TRUTH ALERT 2019)

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