In today’s world, it’s become increasingly easier to get anything we need cheap, fast, and on our doorstep within a few days. This has undeniably made several aspects of our lives much more convenient, but it’s also had a few unintended side effects as well. Believe it or not, you’ll even find these offshoots in the world of orthodontics. That’s why we’re taking a look at the benefits of choosing an orthodontist over mail order aligners!
Here at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we’ve noticed a sizable increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available recently. You’ve probably seen them advertising a cheaper method for straightening your teeth from the comfort of home, and we can see why this would be so appealing to some consumers! You should know, however, that most orthodontists won’t recommend these treatments. That includes our doctors!
To learn more about what DTC aligners are and why you should only trust your smile to an experienced orthodontist, keep reading below.
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer companies will generally market themselves as an alternative to professional orthodontic treatment. Rather than being treated in an office under the supervision of an orthodontist, customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back in, a dentist or technician will review it and determine if the patient is a good candidate for their aligners. If they’re approved for the process, aligners will be made from the impression provided. They will then be sent to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
The bar for using DTC aligners is set extremely low. While this may sound like a good thing, many people get the okay for aligner treatments even if they aren’t necessarily good candidates. There are several important components of the orthodontic process that are missing when it comes to DTC aligners. Let’s explore some of those.
Assessing a patient’s unique needs
Orthodontics goes beyond simply straightening the teeth. An experienced orthodontist is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral issues, from simple to complex. The first step for any patient should be a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth.
Here at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we will also take digital photographs of your teeth. Sometimes we’ll do a series of panoramic and cephalometric x-rays if we feel it’s necessary. All of these images allow us to see the teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, giving our doctors what they need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
DTC aligner companies, on the other hand, must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them. 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. Working directly with an orthodontist’s office eliminates any unnecessary risk since the treatment is built around your unique needs, including any dental work that’s needed.
Creating a personalized treatment plan
Clear aligner therapy can be a great fit for many patients, but it isn’t for everyone. Cases that are particularly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, metal or clear braces may be a better option.
Dr. Hamer and Dr. Glassick are experienced orthodontists who take each patient’s unique needs, lifestyle, and goals into account when choosing the best treatment method. This happens in conjunction with the results of 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.
Quality supervision during the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits occur every 4-8 weeks or so, and our doctors will use this time to observe how the teeth are moving and make any necessary adjustments.
DTC aligner companies do not provide any meaningful supervision, meaning patients are essentially left in charge of their own orthodontic journey. This can come with unintended consequences. 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. With no orthodontist involved, problems like this may go unnoticed and thus untreated, eventually causing damage to a patient’s oral health and bite.
Comparable pricing and similar treatment times already exist
Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions the way it should requires an investment of your time and funds. Although DTC aligners may seem like an inexpensive and easy way to straighten your smile, they can actually end up costing more in the long run when you consider the potential risks! That’s because these companies are simply unable to provide patients with the same level of supervised care that a trained orthodontist can.
Many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim, anyway. Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics are proud to offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. We have flexible payment plans to fit every budget, and we also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. Our team will be happy to file the insurance claims on your behalf, as well.
Trust your smile to Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics
You wouldn’t undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional, right? Your smile deserves the same consideration!
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. Our doctors have years of experience creating beautiful smiles in Charlottesville, Crozet, and the surrounding communities. You can trust our team to provide you with the highest quality orthodontic care at affordable prices!