Even in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s been easy to get almost everything we need cheap, fast, and delivered directly to our doorstep. There’s no denying that this kind of convenience culture has many benefits, but there have been a few unintended consequences as well. That’s true even in the world of orthodontics! Over the last year or two, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments, mainly in the form of clear aligners. These companies tout their products as a cheaper way to straighten teeth from the comfort of home. Given their sizable advertising budget and slick marketing, we can definitely understand why this option would seem appealing! The truth is, however, that most orthodontists and dentists won’t recommend these treatments. Let’s take a closer look at what DTC aligners are and the benefits of an orthodontist vs. direct-to-consumer aligners.
What are direct-to-consumer aligners?
Companies that market these aligners generally present themselves as an alternative to professional treatment. That means that customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit and mailed their clear aligners instead of being treated by an experienced orthodontist. Essentially, a dentist or technician will determine if someone is a good candidate for the aligners. If so, aligners will be made from the impression provided and mailed to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
There are no stringent requirements to be approved for this process. In fact, the bar for using DTC aligners is set very low in most cases. This may sound like a good thing, but it means that many people get the okay for aligner treatments even if they aren’t necessarily good candidates. That’s because there are several important components of the orthodontic process that are missing when it comes to DTC aligners.
Assessing the unique needs of each patient
Orthodontics isn’t just about straightening someone’s smile. Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Ross and Dr. Rothenberg have spent years learning how to identify and treat a variety of orthodontic issues. That’s why the first step for any patient should be a consultation that includes a thorough oral examination.
Here at Orthodontics of South Miami, we take digital photographs of your teeth during your initial appointment, and will also do x-rays if we feel they’re necessary. These images allow us to see the teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, and give our doctors the information they need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
DTC aligner companies, on the other hand, are forced to rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them by the patient. Unfortunately, this can lead to many oral health issues being missed. For example, cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This can be a problem since teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted. When your treatment is supervised by a trained orthodontist, it eliminates these risks since your plan is built around your particular needs, including any dental work that’s needed.
Customized treatment plans for your unique smile
While clear aligner therapy can be an excellent option for many patients, it isn’t for everyone. Some cases are complex or severe enough to need more precise control than aligners can provide. For these patients, metal or clear braces may be a better option.
Dr. Ross and Dr. Rothenberg will always take each patient’s specific needs into consideration when choosing the best treatment method for their smile. This process begins with their initial consultation. Without access to the patient for an in-person examination or x-rays, DTC aligner companies may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good fit for aligners or not.
Professional supervision throughout the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient, whether they’re in braces or aligners. These visits occur every 4-8 weeks or so, during which time the orthodontists observe how the teeth are moving and make any necessary adjustments.
DTC aligner companies do not provide any meaningful supervision, so patients are essentially left in charge of their own orthodontic journey. This can result in a number of issues. For example, aligners may fit poorly, causing irritation and pain. An improper fit may also move the teeth too quickly or more slowly than expected. As we noted above, cavities or gum disease can develop or worsen without the patient knowing. When no orthodontist is directly involved, problems like this may go unnoticed and thus untreated. This can eventually cause damage to a patient’s oral health and bite.
You’ll receive comparable pricing and treatment times with an orthodontist
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for when it comes to your smile. Achieving a healthy and functional mouth can be an investment of your time and funds. While DTC aligners may seem like a way around this, they can actually end up costing more in the long run when you consider all the potential risks! By and large, these companies just can’t provide patients with the same level of supervised care that a trained orthodontist can.
Most orthodontic practices are able to compete with the cost and treatment times that DTC companies claim, anyway. Orthodontics of South Miami is proud to offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign and Invisalign Teen clear aligners. We have affordable payment plans to fit every budget, and we also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans.
Trust your smile to the experts at Orthodontics of South Miami
If you wouldn’t undergo any type of medical procedure without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a trained professional, you owe your smile the same consideration. right? While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing compares to working with an orthodontist who has the education, training, and skill needed to move teeth successfully.
Here at Orthodontics of South Miami, our talented team has years of experience creating beautiful, functional smiles. If you want to learn more about how you can safely achieve the smile you’ve always wanted, get in touch today to schedule your FREE virtual or in-office consultation!