Going to your dentist can be a pain for both your mouth and your wallet. If you or your child needorthodontic treatment it can be even worse, with numerous follow-up visits required. One newer option is at-home orthodontics, where you order aligners that are delivered in the mail and you can put them on yourself. This is often a cheaper method, but there are things you should think about first:
Are Clear Aligners Suitable?
Clear aligners are often better than traditional fixed braces, especially for kids who may be teased about their braces. However, they can only treat relatively simple problems. If you have a severe underbite, overbite or crossbite, for example, you may absolutely need fixed braces. Also, clear aligners can be more of a pain for some people. You have to remove them to eat, and then brush your teeth after every meal (think about this: What if you travel and can’t do that?). Aligners are also less precise. As aligners are the only thing you can mail order, you need to know for sure that they are the best course of treatment before you start.
What Can Mail Order At-Home Orthodontics Not Do?
In addition to not fitting fixed braces, the biggest issue is that with a mail order plan you may never see the orthodontist supposedly fitting your alignment. Reputable companies will base your treatment off of 3D scans (taken at home or a storefront) and/or molds taken either at home or in their clinic. However, you cannot go into the office to talk to them, even in an emergency. Also, they may not have the same communication with your dentist as an orthodontist in their office or whom they referred you to locally.
Are There Risks With Mail Order Aligners?
There are minor risks with orthodontic treatment, such as enamel damage. Those risks are increased when a dentist is not properly overseeing the treatment. As mail order companies can only oversee the treatment by video, they may miss something. However, a reputable company will continue to offer monitoring. You should not get treatment from a company that does not provide ongoing monitoring or, worse, sends you all the sets of aligners you are going to need. The results of orthodontic treatment are not precise, and often can’t be predicted in advance. Also, a mail order company may be inclined to start treatment even if you are not a good candidate because of weak enamel or less than healthy gums. Your dentist is more likely to give an honest recommendation or make sure you receive other treatment first.
How Can I Pick The Right Company for At-Home Orthodontics?
Ask the same questions about the company that you would of a new dentist. Ask them if everyone involved is licensed. Make sure they have a mechanism for your dentist to send them your dental records and x-rays. It’s a good idea to get a new set of digital x-rays before starting treatment. Digital x-rays can be uploaded to the company’s site or sent to them, giving them the same information as your dentist. Make sure that you get a good report on exactly what course of treatment they are recommending. Finally, find out what the emergency plan is. Going to your dentist with damage from poor quality aligners is going to be embarrassing and, in the long term, more expensive. Or, worse, you may end up losing some of your teeth.
At-home orthodontics treatment can work well, and it can save you a lot of money. However, you should still talk to your dentist before starting any kind of treatment, so as to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy and avoid adverse reactions. Getting aligners or braces in the office may be more expensive, but it often gives better results. If you are considering orthodontic treatment for you or your child, contact North Boulder Dental Group today.