Why Mail Order Orthodontics Fall Short (REAL FACTS)

Orthodontic treatment can help to straighten teeth and turn them from crooked and misaligned to healthy, beautiful and straight. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend in the market now where people purchase orthodontic aligners online. While on the surface this might seem like a relatively easy, effective and inexpensive option for orthodontic treatment, it does not, and should not, replace visiting an orthodontist. There are many reasons why these mail order orthodontic products fall short, and why they should be avoided at all costs.

Mail Order Orthodontics

Why Use an Orthodontist

There are many benefits to choosing an orthodontist for your orthodontic care. An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed at least 2 years of a specialized training program dedicated to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.  What this means is that orthodontists have the knowledge and experience to properly diagnose and treat your mouth the best way possible.

Orthodontists can help you choose the right treatment options for your teeth after considering all of the variables. There are many options available today, including braces, clear braces, and clear aligners such as Invisalign. A lot of the mail order orthodontic companies use a clear aligner product similar to Invisalign. But let’s explore why the orthodontist needs to be involved in the decision to straighten your teeth.


Visiting Your Orthodontist

At your initial visit, the orthodontic team will take a set of diagnostic records to gain all information needed to prepare your treatment plan. These records can include photos, intraoral digital scans, 3D radiographic scans, and X-rays. The orthodontist will also do a thorough exam of your mouth to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough to receive orthodontic treatment.

The orthodontic team will then discuss with you what treatment options best suit your needs, whether it be braces, clear aligners, or other treatment modalities.  If you are a candidate for clear aligners, your orthodontist can begin the process of properly fitting you for the trays.  Once the trays are delivered, you can start to see changes in your teeth from the clear aligners almost immediately!


What is Mail Order Orthodontics?

Mail order orthodontics is a service that provides orthodontic appliances without an office visit to an orthodontist. You will request a starter kit that is sent directly to your home. The DIY braces starter kit will include information on how their orthodontics work and how to take a good impression of the teeth. They will then discuss how they make the trays specifically for you. This allows people to get their orthodontic work done without ever needing to visit a dental office. In theory, this saves the patient time and money. However, when looking at the negative online reviews of these mail-order companies, it becomes clear that there are limitations to the treatment they provide.  What are those limitations?  And why should you seek orthodontic care from an orthodontist?


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Why Mail Order Treatment Has Limitations

The primary reason that mail order orthodontic treatment falls short of in-office care is the reduced oversight of your treatment by a professional orthodontic expert. The mail order companies argue that they are able to provide orthodontic treatment at a much lower cost than the orthodontist does.  And this is absolutely true.  But why is that?  Mail order companies have reduced and minimized the role of an orthodontist in treatment planning each individualized case.  The companies must, by law, have each case analyzed and reviewed by a licensed dental professional in the state where the treatment is being provided.  However, this does not provide a comprehensive exam of the patient.  And they are limited to reviewing a set of records provided by the patient.

It is prudent to ask questions to the mail order companies about the care they will provide you.  For example, who is the doctor reviewing my case?  Are they an orthodontist, or just a dentist providing orthodontic care?  What is their name?  Where is their practice?  What are their qualifications?  If I experience problems during my treatment, can I see the doctor?  Because the supervising doctor has less responsibilities toward your case, they are willing to accept a small set fee for their services.  Therefore, mail order orthodontics is absolutely cheaper.  But at what cost?


Another Limitation

Another limitation of mail order treatment is that the impressions and photos are provided by the patient.  Unless you have a background in the dental field, you likely do not know how to take a good impression of your teeth. Even if the impression looks good and you followed all the instructions, there still could be a problem with it. The dental lab uses the impressions you provide to construct your orthodontic aligners. If the impressions are flawed, then the trays constructed from them will be flawed as well.  Improper fit of orthodontic aligners can have deleterious effects on the teeth and bite.

The supervising doctors are also limited to making decisions from a set of photos made by the patient.  Quality orthodontic photographs are difficult to take, even for experienced professionals.  To expect a patient to make quality photos of their own teeth is hopeful at best.  Many people who have attempted mail order orthodontics have found that they eventually need to go see an orthodontist to correct the problems created after wearing mail order aligners.


Why You Need to Visit an Orthodontist

Because of the problems associated with mail order orthodontics, otherwise called ‘at home braces’ you should seek treatment from an orthodontist. While cost is traditionally a huge barrier to care for people seeking orthodontic care, this barrier is not as great as it once was.  Patient-friendly payment options are available through most orthodontic offices to make your monthly payment fit into your budget.  And most orthodontists are open to discussing less expensive treatment plans that address your main concerns if full orthodontic treatment does not fit in your budget.  But who better to help you make those decisions than a licensed orthodontic professional, in their office, discussing your treatment options face to face?  Is the money you might save using mail order products worth the risk of future dental problems?  Are you comfortable with the limited treatment supervision provided by these companies?


Better Options Available to You

At your local orthodontic office, a treatment plan can be formulated to fit your desires and your budget. In the office, they will be able to take x-rays of your teeth and jaws to help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Unfortunately, mail order orthodontic companies don’t require any x-rays to verify the health of the teeth and jaws. The orthodontist can also perform an exam of your mouth make sure that your overall dental health is good.  Only healthy teeth should undergo orthodontic treatment in order to prevent tooth and gum problems during and after wearing orthodontic aligners.  Mail order orthodontics doesn’t provide that exam to ensure a healthy mouth before beginning treatment.  Doesn’t your mouth deserve the best treatment possible? and not diy braces.


Mail Order Orthodontics Reviews

There are tons of reviews online detailing patients’ experiences with mail order orthodontic companies. Due to anti-trust issues, we cannot specifically share any derogatory reviews or videos on this blog.  But we can encourage you to do your homework on mail order orthodontic companies.  By reading the reviews, you’ll notice that many patients still need to see a professional even after using mail order orthodontic appliances. Do you want to be one of those people?  Avoid this pitfall and start your treatment with an orthodontist from the beginning!

Visiting Your Local Professional

If you or your child needs orthodontic care, it is best to visit your local office. A place where a treatment plan can be established for you. Drs. Nease and Higginbotham will be more than happy to help you achieve a gorgeous and straight smile in a kind and caring environment. They can be contacted at 864-579-7700 in order to set up a consultation appointment with one of the orthodontists.

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Duncan Office
1785 E. Main Street
Duncan, SC 29334
Phone: (864) 579-7700


Why Mail Order Braces Fall Short (REAL FACTS)

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