In today’s world, we’ve all become accustomed to getting everything we need fast and cheap. You name it, and you can probably have it at your door in a day or two! While this has made several aspects of our lives easier, it’s also had some unintended side effects. That’s true even in the world of orthodontics, where there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available. So, we are taking an opportunity to discuss the benefits of choosing an orthodontist over mail order aligners.
Chances are good that you’ve seen their flashy advertising in commercials or online ads, promising to straighten your smile from the comfort of home for less money than an orthodontist would charge. We understand why this is tempting to some consumers! However, most orthodontists won’t recommend these treatments, and that includes our doctors. We’re going to explain why below, so keep reading to learn why you should only trust your smile to an experienced orthodontist!
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.
Anyone who has considered using DTC aligners should be aware that the bar for being approved is set extremely low. That may sound like a good thing, but the truth is that many people get the okay for aligner treatment even if they would be better served by a different treatment under the direct supervision of a trained orthodontist.
DTC aligners are a bit like DIY orthodontic treatment. That comes with a number of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results or unexpected problems. Several important components of the orthodontic process are missing when it comes to DTC aligners, including:
Assessing the patient’s specific needs
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. At Kottemann Orthodontics, we will also take digital photographs of your teeth, along with panoramic and cephalometric x-rays if necessary. These images allow us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue. The detailed information gathered during this appointment gives our doctors what they need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
DTC aligner companies, on the other hand, must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them. 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’s office eliminates 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 aligner therapy can be a great fit for many patients, it isn’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.
Our team is made up of four experienced orthodontists and a knowledgeable support staff. Together, we’re able to craft individualized 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.
Supervision during 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 will use this time to make any necessary adjustments, observe how the teeth are moving, and check that everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan.
DTC aligner companies do not provide any meaningful supervision. Patients are essentially left in charge of their own orthodontic journey, which may 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 pricing and similar treatment times
That old saying that you get what you pay for couldn’t be more true when it comes to orthodontic treatment! Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions properly does require an investment of your time and funds. 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, anyway! Here at Kottemann Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. We have payment plans to fit every budget, and we also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. We’ll even file the insurance claims on your behalf!
Trust the experts at Kottemann Orthodontics to deliver a beautiful smile
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. It’s too important to trust to anything less than an expert!
While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing compares to working with an orthodontist who has the education, training, and skill needed to move teeth successfully. Our orthodontists have years of experience creating beautiful smiles in Orono, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Watertown, Chaska, and the surrounding communities. You can always trust in us to provide you with the highest quality orthodontic care at affordable prices!
If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely achieve a beautiful smile with Kottemann Orthodontics, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation!