Recently, mail order braces and at-home teeth aligner kits have become a fad, but they shouldn’t be. They seem appealing, as they are advertised as affordable and convenient. If social media is anything to go by at-home aligners appear to work, and there are tons of reviews of their results all over the internet. While at-home kits might seem like an ideal solution to a busy lifestyle, they are NOT the miracle fix that they seem to be on social media.
To get a perfect smile, you are moving your bones, which requires x-rays, orthodontic equipment and a specialist with years of training that can plan how those bones will be moved, reviewing the process consistently. Mailing in a mold of your teeth and expecting a comprehensive plan to move your teeth with no continual specialist visits or supervision is like walking a tightrope with no training – dangerous!
We want all patients to have a safe, healthy and happy journey to their beautiful smile, so here are a few main issues with at-home teeth straightening and at-home braces kits to help you make the best decision for your teeth.
Never seeing an Orthodontist in Person
Orthodontists don’t just straighten teeth. They fix alignment issues and a number of other serious oral health concerns that may be overlooked when using at-home kits. In fact, existing complaints may become worse with mail order braces as an orthodontist is not monitoring your progress in person.
Not much can be seen from a putty impression or image that may be used by a mail-order aligner system. In some cases, your progress with mail-order aligners may not be examined at all, and you may not be able to reach someone if you have any questions about your treatment. Customer service and specialist availability are important when it comes to your health. Remember, you get what you pay for.
Orthodontists are there to monitor your progress regularly during treatment, giving advice and answering questions you may have, to make sure you get the most out of your treatment. And it goes without saying that they’ll be there for you in the case of an orthodontic concern.
Your Treatment isn’t Adjusted Along the Way
Throughout orthodontic treatment, your teeth may move faster or slower than originally anticipated. They may also move in ways that were not anticipated. This is taken into account in orthodontic treatment by an orthodontist, as they can observe and consider the best way to move forward with treatment, sometimes rerouting your treatment plan as needed. This tailored service happens during regular appointments that you have with your orthodontist.
When you get mail-order braces or aligners, you won’t have this specialized treatment. Their plan is based off of your initial scans or impressions, and is not typically altered throughout, which can cause serious damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw.
Aligners Don’t Work for Everyone
Everyone’s orthodontic health is different, and everyone has different needs meaning that clear aligners may not be the best option for you. There are several different types of braces on the market and an orthodontist will be able to provide the best system for your individual case. Mail-order kits only deal in clear aligners and so will not be able to cater to everyone.
Some mail-order kit providers may not tell you that you’re not a suitable candidate for clear aligners when you mail in your pictures or your impressions.
Some reviewers of mail-order kits even said that their teeth were worse at the end of their mail order braces treatment than when they started treatment, possibly due to ill-fitting aligners or placement issues that need a different form of treatment. Had they been assessed by an orthodontist, the damage would not have occurred.
There May Be Issues that Go Untreated
An orthodontist can fix problems that cannot be seen via scan or impression. Many orthodontic issues exist below the gum line, and with the jaw itself. These issues cannot be treated with your typical mail-in aligner kit, and can even worsen with use. Mail-in kits won’t be able to do things like widening your jaw to make sure your teeth have the best fit or make sure that your jaw bone is adapting to treatment correctly.
Aligners are NOT good at correcting rotations and aligning the bite for ideal health. The three biggest complaints of mail in aligners are 1. The bite is off at the end of their series, the front teeth are not aligned and the gums constantly bleed at the end of treatment – yikes!
Overall Cost May Be More than Your Standard Orthodontic Treatment
If you happen to be one of the unfortunate individuals who use a mail-order aligner kit and end up with teeth that look worse than before, or now have serious orthodontic problems from aligners being too tight, you will likely have to go through regular orthodontic treatment as well, so you will be facing double the cost. That’s not to mention the cost of serious surgery or other treatment that may be necessary depending on how badly the mail-order treatment affects your teeth.
Most orthodontists offer affordable payment plans, much like those offered by mail-order kit companies. It pays off, in the long run, to go with a better-quality option.
Remember, while mail-order teeth aligner kits seem like a good option for a slight fix of a crooked tooth or two, it’s extremely risky to move teeth without the supervision of a trained expert orthodontist. For truly successful treatment and a beautiful smile that feels good, looks great and lasts a lifetime, see an orthodontist.