You might have recently heard of a new company who offers to give you invisible aligners in the comfort of your home at less than 50% of the cost of treatments such as Invisalign.
To sum it up, the process involves you taking impressions of your teeth and taking pictures of yourself and then mailing both of these to the company. The company will then send you a set of aligners that you will have to wear, one after the other until you get a set of perfectly aligned teeth…. about a year down the line.
So is it really possible to do it as easily as this company claims. Will you actually get results with it? Well, here are our thoughts on this new do it yourself orthodontic industry…
Naturally being a fully qualified orthodontist who has had years and years of experience, dealing with thousands of different patients I see the great value that comes out of being able to see my patients in person. These thoughts and opinions on the industry of do it yourself orthodontics are just my opinions and not based on my experience of actually using these products.
I’ve personally offered clear aligners such as Invisalign to help straighten people’s teeth since the first day that I became a fully fledged orthodontist. Back when I still in dental school, I took impressions of my own teeth to create an invisible aligner which I then went on to straighten a crooked back tooth.
I simply wore the aligner all day, everyday (only removing it to eat and brush my teeth) and a month later my tooth was in it’s perfect place. Back when Invisalign first came to the market in 1999, I was one of the first orthodontists in the USA to be trained to use them, and have been successfully treating patients with them since then!
I have used many different invisible aligner treatments over the years and I can tell you right now that there is no doubt that invisible aligners are great at helping people get that perfect smile.
The first concern I have when it comes to do it yourself orthodontic treatment is the fact that you as a human being are a complicated organism and this needs to be taken into account when you are being looked over and a treatment plan is being made for you.
Every individual is different and this is something that you have to keep in mind when they walk through your door for the first time. You need to understand their specific problems and the thoughts and ideas they have in their mind about how the treatment process should look. Then you need to offer them treatment that is going to actually give them the results that they desire.
You need to understand the patient and see whether they are even mature enough to be able to go through invisible aligner treatment successfully. As an orthodontist I also look at the whole entire mouth and neck area and take the health of these two into consideration when I’m coming up with a treatment plan.
Issues like tooth decay and gum disease all need to be taken into consideration when you are deciding which treatment is going to be the most successful.
We as orthodontists also examine the mouth for signs of bigger problems like oral cancer, and swollen glands. The only way to find these issues is to take a full x-ray of the mouth prior to treatment actually taking place because it is next to impossible to detect them without one.
To be honest I don’t think that taking a few pictures of the face and some impressions of the mouth are enough to accurately make the correct diagnosis and therefore an accurate treatment plan.
You also need to know that orthodontic appliances such as aligners are only as effective as the orthodontist that is actually designing and making them for you.
Yes, your orthodontist may show you a beautiful digital simulation of how the process of getting straight teeth will look for you, but you need to realize and appreciate that this simulation only shows you the perfect scenario and doesn’t show you the reality of life. Various different factors and obstacles and issues may and will come up through your treatment and only an orthodontist who knows what he/she is doing will be able to solve the situation and move you forward to getting the best result possible.
Yes, companies like Invisalign have worked incredibly hard to create precise mathematical formulas over the years, but the reality is that not matter how good these formulas are they can and will never take into account the constantly changing human body.
This is why it is so important to have an orthodontist there who will be able to step in when the aligners are not doing their job. This way if things are not going as they are meant to then they can make the necessary adjustments.
Of course even in the most simple and straightforward cases, there will be times when the patient needs to go in and see their orthodontist.
There may be times when the invisible aligners are rubbing up against the gums or they just don’t fit correctly. And when these issues spring up you need to have a qualified and experienced orthodontist who can course correct and solve these issues quickly and efficiently.
There are times when the aligners won’t actually move the teeth as they should. If there isn’t an orthodontist to notice this then how is the patient supposed to know what to do or even know if this is happening in the first place?
When I see my patients who are going through Invisalign treatment, I always check and make sure that their teeth are moving as they should be moving and if they’re not then make the correct adjustments to get back on track.
Honestly I find it hard to believe that all of this will be possible with a 100% do it yourself system.
Yes, we live in a wonderful time in that everything is getting faster and cheaper. You want something and you’re literally one click away from getting it shipped to your door overnight through places like Amazon.
But you need to appreciate that orthodontic treatment is a very complex process and not as simple as ordering something to get shipped to you overnight!
Personally with something as delicate as my teeth (after all you only get one set of teeth) I’d want a fully qualified orthodontist who has years of experience, dealing with me and guiding me every step of the way.
There is absolutely nothing that can replace a quality orthodontist who will examine your mouth personally, look at your overall oral health, give you a diagnosis and then create a solid individual treatment plan and make any adjustments and course corrections along the way should any hiccups present themselves.
In terms of a do it yourself system claiming to give you the same results… I personally feel it is highly unlikely this is possible or ever will be possible.