‘Tis the season for online shopping! There’s no better reminder that we live in a time where just about anything we want can be ordered, fulfilled, and delivered directly to us just a couple of days later. While this can be incredibly helpful—especially during the holidays—it can also create an unrealistic expectation that everything in our lives should be just as fast and convenient.
Orthodontic care is a perfect example of this. We’ve seen some really exciting advances in treatment options over the last several years, including the rise of clear aligner therapy like the Invisalign system. These aligners are by far the most popular alternative to traditional braces, offering patients a freedom and flexibility braces can’t match. Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in the number of at-home treatments saturating the market in order to cash in on what they see as an orthodontic trend.
These “mail order” aligners are a super hot commodity right now, and we definitely understand the appeal of these products. After all, they’ve got a brilliant marketing team backing them with catchy commercials and ads everywhere you turn! However, there’s a reason that orthodontists like Dr. Pakravan studied and trained for years before going into practice. That’s because orthodontics in general tends to be far more complex than just clicking a button and ordering yourself a set of aligners!
You may have found yourself tempted by some of these companies recently. We get it— the idea of an inexpensive at-home kit with no in-office visits is attractive. There’s a reason why they’re not recommended by most orthodontists and dentists, however, including Dr. Pakravan. Keep reading below to learn more about how these companies work and why our safe and effective treatment methods are a much better bet when it comes to straightening your smile!
What are at-home aligners?
As an alternative to receiving customized treatment with an experienced orthodontist, direct-to-consumer companies offer up a cheaper alternative by supplying patients with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once impressions have been taken and mailed in, they are purportedly reviewed by a dentist or technician who will determine if the patient is a candidate for their company’s aligners. If the patient is approved for the process, the aligners will be made and delivered to the patient with instructions on how to wear them.
The potential dangers of DIY treatment
It’s easy to see why DIY orthodontic services are so attractive to consumers, since they tend to offer eager patients a lower price point and no in-office visits. You should note, however, that the criteria for being accepted is very loose. In fact, many people are approved for treatment even when they shouldn’t be! This can come with a variety of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results overall.
There’s no comprehensive exam before treatment begins
Orthodontists like Dr. Pakravan don’t just straighten teeth, they’re also able to identify and treat oral conditions that range from simple to severe. This process begins with a comprehensive orthodontic examination. Information is collected from the exam, digital photographs and x-rays, and a review of the patient’s dental and medical history. This is what allows an orthodontist to create an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s unique smile and particular needs.
This information is also used to create the ideal bite for a patient, a difficult but important part of treatment. Misalignments between the teeth and jaws can cause pain, discomfort, and uneven wear and tear to the teeth. Not only that, but many oral health issues are easy to overlook with at-home kits. That’s because cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This can be problematic since the teeth and gums should always be in good shape before attempting tooth movement of any kind.
A lack of supervision throughout the treatment process
Routine check-ups with an orthodontist are an essential part of successfully treating misaligned teeth. These visits let us observe how the patient’s teeth are moving and if that movement is proceeding according to their personal treatment plan. Adjustments can also be made during these visits if they become necessary at any time. Some of these visits can be done virtually, but – especially near the end of treatment – more than a visual inspection is necessary to finish orthodontic treatment in a healthy manner.
Mail order companies, on the other hand, leave patients without any meaningful supervision as they attempt to straighten their teeth at home. That means aligners can be poorly fitted, or they may move the teeth too quickly or more slowly than expected. As we mentioned above, damage to the teeth, gums or supporting bone may develop. If there’s no orthodontist overseeing treatment, these problems may go unrecognized and untreated. Eventually, this can cause painful or expensive damage to your oral health and your bite.
The customization leaves much to be desired
While clear aligner therapy can be a great choice for many patients, not everyone is an ideal candidate. In particular, cases that are fairly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide.
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan understands the importance of taking a patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and goals into account before recommending any particular treatment method. Because they don’t have access to a patient for an examination, x-rays, or photos, mail order businesses may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a suitable candidate for aligners.
Trust your oral health to the expert team at Windy City Orthodontics
While direct-to-consumer companies may seem like an excellent way to save some money while straightening your smile, that’s certainly not always the case. As a matter of fact, using these aligners could actually prove more costly than you’d expect given the reasons listed above! Even the American Association of Orthodontists has asked, “What other transforming medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?”
The truth is that there are a number of wonderful orthodontists out there who are able to compete with the cost and time that these mail order companies claim. Here at Windy City Orthodontics, we offer a wide variety of treatment options for patients of all ages. We’re also committed to making high-quality orthodontic care affordable and attainable for every patient who needs it, whatever their budget may be. To that end, we have payment plans available, and also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans.
There’s no getting around the fact that achieving a smile that looks and feels great will require an investment of your time and funds. When it comes to orthodontic treatment, after all, you really do get what you pay for! These various mail order aligner companies are simply unable to provide patients the same level of care a trained orthodontist can.
Don’t trust your smile to just anybody! Only an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Pakravan will have the education, training, and skills necessary to safely and effectively straighten your smile. If you’re in Chicago or the surrounding areas and want to learn more about how professional orthodontic treatment can give you a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today and schedule your free consultation with Dr. Pakravan!