In a world of ever-increasing convenience, we’ve all become accustomed to getting just about everything we need reasonably fast and relatively cheap. There’s no denying this can make our lives easier, but it’s also come with some unintended side effects. Even within the world of orthodontics, we can see signs of this in the direct-to-consumer aligner trend that’s become very popular in the last year or two. That’s why we’re taking a look at the benefits of choosing an orthodontist over mail-order aligners.
These companies have a stellar marketing team behind them so there’s little doubt that you’ve seen their commercials on TV or noticed their online ads. Most of them promise to straighten your smile at home for a fraction of the cost an orthodontist would charge. While we can certainly understand why this would be tempting to some consumers, most orthodontists won’t recommend these treatments for a variety of reasons, including Dr. Langford and Dr. Ringer.
You only get one smile, and it’s too important to trust to anybody but an expert. To learn more about why an experienced orthodontist should always be your first choice for orthodontic care, keep reading below!
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer companies market themselves as an alternative to professional orthodontic treatment that takes place 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, 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 has ever considered 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 in theory, many people get the okay for aligner treatment even if it’s not the best choice for their orthodontic needs.
DTC 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
Orthodontics is about more than 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 in any orthodontic journey is a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth. Here at Langford 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 our orthodontists what they need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
DTC aligner companies lack this kind of detailed look, and 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 condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted, so this can wind up being problematic. Working directly with an orthodontist like Dr. Langford or Dr. Ringer will eliminate any unnecessary risk since the treatment 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 fit for many patients, they aren’t 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 Langford Orthodontics, our talented 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, DTC aligner companies may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good fit for aligners or not.
Supervising the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits occur roughly every 4-8 weeks, and your orthodontist will use this time to make any necessary adjustments and check that everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan.
DTC aligner companies don’t provide any meaningful supervision, which mostly 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.
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.
Orthodontists offer comparable costs and treatment times
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, “you get what you pay for” is more than just a popular saying! Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions properly 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 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 will actually be 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 be happy to file the claims for you.
Leave your smile to the trusted experts at Langford Orthodontics
You’d be unlikely to undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional, right? We think you should give your smile the same consideration? While DTC 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 correct your orthodontic issues.
Dr. Langford, Dr. Ringer and the rest of our talented team have years of experience creating bright, beautiful smiles in Knoxville and the surrounding communities. If you’re ready to learn more about how Langford Orthodontics can safely and effectively transform your smile, get in touch with us to schedule your FREE consultation!