WITH THE INCREASED availability and convenience of telemedicine and plastic aligners, like Invisalign, it’s understandable that many people would be attracted to the idea of mail-order orthodontics.
Companies like Smile Direct Club market the ease of having plastic aligners mailed directly to you, with behind-the-scenes doctors (who you won’t ever meet) ensuring you receive the correct treatment. While this option may even seem more affordable than receiving treatment from a licensed orthodontist, you could end up needing far more expensive treatment down the line.
Three Big Reasons to Beware of Mail Order Orthodontic Companies
1. Not Everyone is a Candidate for Plastic Aligners
It’s important to remember that plastic aligners are not a good option for everyone. For instance, patients with gum disease or cavities will need to receive treatment for those before using plastic aligners.
Smile Direct Club has an incentive to put plastic aligners on anyone interested — whether or not they are a good candidate — because it’s the only treatment they offer.
One of the benefits of being treated by an orthodontist is that they can offer you the treatment option that is the best fit for you.
2. You Wouldn’t Ask Your Family Doctor to do Your Heart Surgery
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Heart surgery? I just want straight teeth!” Our point here is that there is a reason we have specialists for different kinds of healthcare, including for your teeth!
Companies like Smile Direct Club often assign your treatment to a dentist instead of a certified orthodontist. What’s the problem with this? While dentists and orthodontists have a lot of the same education, orthodontists must attend a residency program for an additional 3 years beyond dental school to become certified. That extra 3 years is spent learning the skills required for diagnosing and treating misalignments of your teeth and jaws.
While dentists are certainly skillful professionals who are an important part of your oral healthcare, they usually don’t have the specialized education to understand the mechanics of perfecting your smile. Our office sees patients every month who are seeking treatment to correct problems with bite alignment due to plastic aligners.
3. No Real Supervision or Comprehensive Exams
When you are treated with clear aligners in our office, we require routine appointments to make sure your teeth are moving at the safest, most efficient rate. Dr. Kineret can adjust your treatment plan along the way if necessary, but you won’t get this when you use mail order aligners. With mail-order aligners, teeth may move slower or faster than anticipated. You may develop gum disease or cavities during your treatment, with no orthodontist or dentist able to see and treat the issue quickly because they can’t see your teeth.
There are many risks to receiving Invisalign treatment from an inexperienced provider, or from one with insufficient supervision of treatment. These include misalignment of the jaw and bite, root damage, gum damage, and even loss of teeth due to moving teeth too quickly or poorly fitted aligners. For these reasons, it’s important that you receive a comprehensive exam from an orthodontist before you begin any kind of orthodontic treatment.