In today’s world of two-day shipping and rock bottom pricing, we’ve all become accustomed to getting just about everything we need fast and cheap. There’s no denying that this can be incredibly convenient, but it’s also had some unintended side effects, even in the world of orthodontics! This can be seen in the direct-to-consumer aligner trend that’s become increasingly popular in the last year or two. You’ve probably seen their clever marketing in commercials or online ads, promising to straighten your smile at home for a fraction of the cost. We can certainly understand why this would be tempting to some consumers, but most orthodontists won’t recommend these treatments for a variety of reasons. We’re here to tell you the benefits of an orthodontist over DTC aligners.
Keep reading below as we take a closer look at DTC aligners and how they compare to choosing a trained and experienced orthodontist like Dr. Leavitt!
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer aligner companies market themselves as an alternative to professional orthodontic treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of an orthodontist. Consumers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners or sent to a local center where scans will be taken. Once the impression or scans have been taken and mailed back in, a dentist or technician will review them 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 information provided, then deliver them to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
If you or anyone you know has ever considered using DTC aligners, you should be aware that the bar for being approved is set extremely low. While that may sound like a good thing, in theory, many people get the okay for aligner treatment even if it’s not the best choice for their orthodontic needs.
DTC aligners are essentially a kind of do-it-yourself orthodontic treatment. That comes with several potential risks, some of which can lead to unsatisfactory results or unexpected problems. There are several important components of the orthodontic process missing when it comes to DTC aligners, including:
Assessing the specific needs of individual patients
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 any orthodontic journey is a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth. At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, we’ll take digital photographs of your teeth, along with x-rays if necessary. These images allow us to get a closer look at your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue. The information we gather during this appointment gives Dr. Leavitt what he needs to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
DTC aligner companies lack this kind of detailed look and rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them by the patient. 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 like Dr. Leavitt will eliminate 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 aligners can be a great fit for many patients, they aren’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.
At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, our expert team creates personalized 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 Dr. Leavitt will use this time to make any necessary adjustments and check that everything is proceeding according to your customized treatment plan.
DTC aligner companies can’t provide any meaningful supervision, which leaves patients in charge of their orthodontic journey. This can 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.
Comparable costs and treatment times
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you do get what you pay for! Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions properly requires an investment of your time and funds. Although 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. Here at Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, we see many patients who chose to use DTC aligners, only to end up with less-than satisfying results. When you factor in the cost of potential re-treatment, the costs of at-home aligner therapy just keep increasing.
In reality, a qualified orthodontist like Dr. Leavitt will be able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim! Our practice offers a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. We also have payment plans to fit every budget and accept most major credit cards for your convenience. If you have dental insurance that covers orthodontic treatment, we’ll even file the claims for you!
Trust your smile to the experts at Whitewater Orthodontic Studios
You wouldn’t undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional, so why not give your smile the same consideration? While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing compares to working with a trained orthodontist who has the expertise and skill to successfully move the teeth. Once you know the benefits of an orthodontist over DTC aligners, you’ll be able to make the most informed decision for your care!
Dr. Leavitt has years of experience creating exceptional smiles from our offices in Lacey, Lakewood, and Yelm. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely transform your smile with Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation!