In today’s world, it’s become increasingly easy to get anything we need cheap, fast, and on our doorstep within a few days. This has undeniably made several aspects of our lives much more convenient, but it’s also had a few unintended side effects. Believe it or not, you’ll even find these offshoots in the world of orthodontics! Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available to patients. We’re here to tell you the benefits of an orthodontist over DTC aligners!
You’ve probably seen the advertising for a cheaper, quicker method for straightening your teeth from the comfort of home, and we can see why this would be attractive to some consumers! However, you should know that most orthodontists, including Dr. Dorie Frank here at Bluebird Orthodontics, won’t recommend these treatments. To find out more about what DTC aligners actually are and the benefits of an orthodontist over DTC aligners, keep reading below.
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer companies generally market themselves as an alternative to professional orthodontic treatment under the close supervision of a trained expert. Rather than being treated in an office by an orthodontist, customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back to the company, 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, aligners will be made from the impression provided. They will then be sent to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
It’s important to recognize that the bar for using DTC aligners is set extremely low. While this may sound like a good thing, many people are given approval for aligner treatment even if they aren’t necessarily good candidates. There are several important components of the orthodontic process that are missing when it comes to DTC aligners. Let’s explore some of those.
Assessing a patient’s unique needs
Orthodontics goes much deeper than simply straightening the teeth. An experienced orthodontist is trained to identify, treat, and prevent a variety of oral issues ranging from simple to complex. The first step for any patient should be an in-office consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth.
Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we will also take digital photographs of your teeth. Sometimes we’ll do a series of panoramic and cephalometric x-rays if we feel it’s necessary. Together, these images allow us to see the teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, giving Dr. Frank what she needs 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 by the patient. This can result in many oral health issues being overlooked and, therefore, untreated. For example, cavities, gum disease, and other related problems aren’t visible from just a few photos or impressions alone. This can be a problem since teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted. 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 may be needed.
Creating a personalized treatment plan
Clear aligner therapy can be a great fit for many patients, but 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 or clear braces may be a better option.
Dr. Frank is an experienced orthodontist who considers each patient’s unique needs, lifestyle, and goals when choosing the best treatment method for their smile. 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 are not able to accurately determine if a patient is a good candidate for aligners or not.
Quality supervision during the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential component of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits occur every 4-8 weeks or so, and Dr. Frank will use this time to observe how the teeth are moving, make any necessary adjustments to the wires and bands, and make any adjustments that may be necessary.
DTC aligner companies can’t provide any kind of meaningful supervision, essentially leaving patients in charge of their own orthodontic journey. This can come with some 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. Without an orthodontist involved, problems like this may go unnoticed and thus untreated, eventually causing long-term damage to a patient’s oral health and bite.
Comparable pricing and similar treatment times already exist
Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions the way it should 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 actually end up costing more in the long run once you consider the potential risks! That’s because these companies are simply unable to provide patients with the same level of supervised, detailed care that a trained orthodontist can.
Many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim, anyway. Bluebird Orthodontics is proud to offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages in Commack and the surrounding communities, including Invisalign clear aligners. We even offer flexible payment plans to fit every budget and we accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. Our team will be happy to file the insurance claims on your behalf, as well.
Trust your smile to Bluebird Orthodontics
You wouldn’t undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation and ongoing supervision from a medical professional, right? We believe your smile deserves the same consideration!
While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing can compare to working alongside an orthodontist who has the education, training, and skill needed to move teeth successfully. Dr. Frank has years of experience creating beautiful smiles in Commack and the surrounding communities, so you can trust our team to provide you with the highest quality orthodontic care at affordable prices!