In today’s world of two-day shipping and rock bottom pricing, we’ve all gotten used to having access to just about everything we need faster and cheaper than ever before. While this is certainly convenient, it’s also had some unforeseen drawbacks, even in the world of orthodontics! This is evident in the increase of direct-to-consumer aligners available. However, the benefits of an orthodontist over DTC aligners lead many to reconsider this type of treatment.
You’ve probably seen the flashy advertising in commercials or online promising to straighten your smile at home for a fraction of the cost. While we can understand the appeal this might have for many people, most orthodontists won’t recommend them for a multitude of reasons. Keep reading below to learn more about why you should only trust your smile to an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan!
What are Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) aligners?
Direct-to-consumer aligner companies market themselves as an alternative to professional orthodontic treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of a trained orthodontist. Customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. After 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. Once approved for the process, they will make aligners from the impression provided, then deliver them to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
If you or anyone you know is considering using DTC aligners, you should be aware that the bar for being approved is set extremely low. While that may sound like a good thing at first, many people are approved for aligner treatment even if it’s not the best choice for their orthodontic needs.
Direct-to-consumer aligners are a little bit like DIY orthodontic treatment. That comes with a number of potential risks, some of which can lead to unsatisfactory results or unexpected problems. There are several important components of the orthodontic process missing when it comes to DTC aligners, including:
Assessing the specific needs of individual patients
Orthodontic treatment is about more than simply straightening the teeth. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral abnormalities, from simple to complex. The first step in any orthodontic journey is a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth. At Windy City Orthodontics, we also take digital photographs of your teeth, along with x-rays if necessary. These images allow us to get a good look at your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue. The information we gather during this appointment gives Dr. Pakravan everything he needs to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
Direct-To-Consumer aligner companies don’t have access to this kind of detailed look and must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them by the patient. This can lead to many oral health issues being missed. Cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. The teeth and gums should always be in good health before any type of tooth movement is attempted, so this can wind up being problematic. Working directly with an orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan will eliminate any unnecessary risk since a treatment plan is built around your unique needs, including any dental work that’s needed.
Creating a customized treatment plan
While clear aligners can be a great option for many patients, they aren’t right for everyone. Cases that are particularly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, metal, clear, or self-ligating braces may be a better option.
At Windy City Orthodontics, our expert team creates personalized treatment plans by taking each patient’s unique needs, lifestyle, and goals into account. This happens in conjunction with the results of their initial consultation. Without access to the patient for an in-person examination or x-rays, direct-to-consumer aligner companies may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good fit for aligners or not. Dr. Pakravan will then design and adjust the treatment plan and appliance – whether with clear aligners or with braces – to fit the patient’s treatment needs and goals. Clear aligners are customized treatment and their results are only as good as their design.
Supervision during the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits occur at intervals ranging from 1-3 months, and Dr. Pakravan will use this time to make any necessary adjustments and check that everything is progressing according to the treatment plan.
Direct-to-consumer aligner companies can’t provide any meaningful supervision, which essentially leaves patients in charge of their own orthodontic journey. This can have 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. Additionally, many DTC aligner companies claim they will not change the bite and only move front teeth, but there are side effects to wearing aligners, as well as reactive movements on the back teeth as pressure is applied to the front teeth.
As we mentioned 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 costs and treatment times
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you really do get what you pay for! Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions properly will require an investment of your time and funds. Although direct-to-consumer aligners may seem like an inexpensive and easy way to straighten your smile, they can 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.
In reality, a qualified orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan is actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim, anyway! Our practice offers a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. We also have payment plans to fit every budget and accept most major credit cards for your convenience. If you have dental insurance that covers orthodontic treatment, we’ll even file the claims for you!
Trust your smile to the experts at Windy City Orthodontics
You wouldn’t undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional, so why not give your smile the same consideration? While direct-to-consumer companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing compares to working with a trained orthodontist who has the expertise and skill to successfully move the teeth.
Dr. Pakravan has years of experience creating exceptional smiles in Chicago and the surrounding communities. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely transform your smile with Windy City Orthodontics, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation!