In today’s world, we’ve grown accustomed to getting everything we need through increasingly faster, cheaper, and easier methods. While this is certainly convenient, it’s also had some unintended side effects, even in the orthodontic world! Most notably, it’s led to an increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available, such as Smile Direct Club.
These companies spare no expense on flashy advertising that promises you can straighten your smile from the comfort of home for less money! It’s understandable that this is tempting to some consumers. However, most orthodontists and dentists won’t recommend them, and we’re here to tell you why! Keep reading below to learn more about what DTC aligners are, and how McGrory Orthodontics can more safely and effectively give you the smile you desire.
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer companies, like Smile Direct Club, market themselves as an alternative to orthodontic treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of an orthodontist. The first step is supplying customers 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 are approved for the process, aligners will be made from the impression the patient sent in. These will then be delivered to them at home with instructions on how to wear them.
Anyone considering using DTC aligners should be aware that it’s extremely easy to get approved. While that may sound like a good thing, the truth is that many people are okayed for aligner treatment even if they would benefit more from a different treatment method under the direct supervision of an orthodontist.
This kind of DIY treatment comes with a number of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results–or worse! There are several important components of the orthodontic process missing with DTC aligners, some of which we’ve outlined below.
Assessing your specific needs
Orthodontics is about more than straightening the teeth. An experienced orthodontist is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral issues, ranging from simple to complex. The first step in that process is a consultation that includes an orthodontic examination. At McGrory Orthodontics, our treatment coordinator will take digital photographs of your teeth, along with a panoramic and cephalometric x-ray if necessary. These images allow us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue. One of our doctors will also perform a thorough examination. Together, this detailed information gives us what we need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
In contrast to this, DTC aligner companies must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them. Unfortunately, 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. Because the teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted, this can be problematic. When you work directly with an orthodontist’s office, it eliminates this unnecessary risk. Treatment plans are built around your unique needs, including dental work if needed.
Creating customized treatment plans
Clear aligner therapy can be an excellent choice for many patients, but it isn’t for everyone. In particular, cases that are complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, traditional metal or clear braces may be a better option.
Our team is made up of experienced orthodontists and support staff who always consider a patient’s needs, lifestyle, and goals when creating an individualized treatment plan for them. 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 our doctors use this time to make adjustments if necessary, observe how the teeth are moving, and check that everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan.
There is no meaningful supervision with DTC aligner companies. For all intents and purposes, patients are left in charge of their own orthodontic experience, which can result in unexpected 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
Achieving a healthy smile that looks amazing requires an investment of your time and funds. That old saying that you get what you pay for couldn’t be more true when it comes to orthodontic treatment! While 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, many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim. Here at McGrory Orthodontics, we offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. To ensure treatment is affordable, we have an office payment plan with 0% financing, along with a courtesy discount. Additionally, we accept most orthodontic insurances and can even file the insurance on your behalf!
Our office takes advantage of the latest in orthodontic technology and techniques to give you the most optimal results in the shortest amount of time possible.
Expert care that you can trust
You only get one smile, and it’s too important to trust to anything less than an expert! While DTC companies, like Smile Direct Club, claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing the approval process for their aligners, nothing compares to working an orthodontist who has education, training, and expertise in moving teeth successfully. Our orthodontists have years of experience creating beautiful, healthy smiles in our community, so you can always trust in us to provide the highest quality orthodontic care!
For treatment that’s safe and effective, visit McGrory Orthodontics
Would you undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional? Of course not! We believe your smile deserves the same consideration. At McGrory Orthodontics, we aim to provide you with a rewarding, stress-free orthodontic experience from your first appointment to your last. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely achieve a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation!