We’ve all spent quite a lot of time at home over the last couple of years and gotten used to delivery and pick-up options for just about everything. In that time, ads for at-home aligner treatments have exploded! These companies promote “self-treatment” in the form of mail-order aligners, excelling at flashy marketing that can be really compelling to consumers looking to straighten their smile without leaving the house. If you thought these products seemed too good to be true, however, you’d be right.
Many orthodontists, dentists, and other dental professionals have been encouraging patients to steer clear of these companies, and with good reason. There are many questions surrounding the safety and efficiency of this approach, but an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Zeifman will be able to provide you with a safe and rewarding experience from start to finish. That’s something mail-order treatments can’t promise! To learn more about the differences between the two, keep reading below.
What are mail-order aligners? How do they work?
The companies that offer clear aligners through the mail are essentially a form of “online” orthodontics. Instead of visiting an orthodontic office for an exam, each step of the treatment process is handled via their website. It begins by submitting an application to the company of your choice. Once it’s approved, you can either visit one of their local shops or have a kit sent to your home to make a 3-D mold of your teeth. A technician or dentist will then use that mold to create a series of clear aligners that slowly move your teeth into the desired positions.
As with in-office treatment, this process can take anywhere from several weeks to many months to complete. During this time, your progress will be monitored using photos of your mouth that you provide at regular intervals. Although this seems relatively straightforward, anyone considering these companies should proceed with caution. There are several risks and concerns associated with this kind of care, and some of them can even have a lasting impact on your oral health. Let’s look at some of the benefits associated with choosing a respected orthodontic practice like ours over mail-order companies!
Personalized care from beginning to end
One of the biggest selling points for mail-order aligners is that no in-office orthodontic visits are necessary. But you should also view this as one of the biggest red flags! You’re not required to visit an orthodontist before beginning treatment with these companies, and you probably won’t see one during treatment, either. This can be problematic.
Why? The truth is, moving your teeth into more optimal positions will impact your entire mouth. Even in mild cases, straightening your smile will affect your gums, bones, and the roots of your teeth. An orthodontist is trained to ensure all of these are healthy before and during the treatment process to produce safe movement of the teeth.
At Zeifman Orthodontics, your first visit will include digital photographs of your teeth and a discussion of your concerns. If you prefer an alternative to traditional braces, we offer clear aligners at our practice as well. We’ll be able to let you know during this appointment if you’re a good fit for these systems!
If you do decide to move forward with clear aligner treatment, we’ll begin by taking a set of digital photos and x-rays to create a 3D image of your mouth. Your first set of aligners will be generated from these images, ensuring a custom fit that’s comfortable and effective. You’ll be scheduled for regular follow-up visits with Dr. Zeifman throughout the treatment process so she can track your progress and ensure your teeth are moving in a healthy way.
Once treatment is complete, you’ll be provided with a retainer to keep your newly straightened teeth in place. In contrast to mail-order aligner companies, you’ll be supported by our talented team from your first visit to your last!
Custom treatment plan
Most at-home treatments will use computer systems to predict the movements your teeth will need to make. We use computers for a wide variety of complex tasks every day, so you may wonder why this matters, but teeth don’t always follow those computer-predicted movements! When mail-order companies create all of a patient’s aligners simultaneously, it can be an issue if their movements end up falling outside the predicted ones. This can lead to ill-fitting aligners that may cause discomfort, pain, and subpar results.
When there’s no orthodontist involved in overseeing the treatment process, patients often miss the signs of poorly fitted aligners until it’s too late. After using these products, we’ve seen patients diagnosed with crossbites, misalignments, and other serious dental issues. Some have also reported frequent headaches, aches and pains in the neck and jaw muscles, and difficulty chewing. A few have even ended up with nerve damage or broken teeth!
Individualized treatment options for your smile
Clear aligners can be an excellent option for many patients,but they aren’t a good fit for everyone. For example, patients with especially severe or complex cases may require more precise tooth control than a removable orthodontic appliance can provide. A different method like traditional or clear braces may be a better option for these patients. Our practice offers the following affordable treatment options.
LightForce is an ingenious advancement in bracket systems. In fact, it’s one of the most cutting-edge technologies to hit the orthodontic industry in decades! This sophisticated system uses 3D technology that’s designed to customize every bracket to fit the teeth perfectly. The braces are designed around each patient’s teeth, so we get a perfect fit every time! This makes treatment more efficient and comfortable, resulting in fewer appointments and faster treatment times.
Like traditional braces, lingual braces work by applying gentle yet continuous pressure on the teeth to help them slowly shift into the desired positions. However, the brackets and wires are placed behind the teeth to create a beautiful custom smile. This is the only treatment option that is truly invisible!
Clear aligner therapy
Clear aligner systems consist of removable plastic trays that fit over the teeth and gently move them into the desired positions over time. Each aligner is replaced with the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the shifting teeth. This offers patients a bit more flexibility not available with braces since the aligners can be removed when eating or drinking. It also makes maintaining an oral hygiene routine much simpler since patients brush and floss as they normally would.
Regular visits with an expert orthodontist
The companies behind mail-order aligners assume their clients will make good dental hygiene choices, have regular check-ups with a dentist, and be proactive with their oral health. But you know what they say about assumptions!
A patient’s teeth and gums should always be in good condition before attempting any type of tooth movement. Having patients provide their own images and impressions means that cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues can be missed or worsen over time.
One of the benefits of regular visits with an orthodontist is that your oral health will be monitored. That means treatment can be adjusted if it becomes necessary! When you trust your smile to an orthodontic expert like Dr. Zeifman, you’ll have access to support, guidance, and supervision throughout the treatment process. This is something mail-order companies just can’t offer their clients, leaving them more or less on their own during their orthodontic journey.
Trust your smile to the expert team at Zeifman Orthodontics
If you’re interested in straightening your smile, we recommend consulting with an orthodontist before making any decisions or beginning treatment. Our practice offers a complimentary consultation to determine if treatment is necessary! Our customized treatment plans are built around your unique smile, lifestyle, and goals. You won’t find that kind of world-class care from a company offering mail-order aligners!