Mail-order dental aligners have definitely become a trendy way for people to straighten their smiles. However, dental specialists say that perfect pearly whites aren’t always the result of these services, and may require additional, costly procedures. Dentists have explained that patients, particularly millennials who jumped on board with the do-it-yourself aligners and now are not happy with the results.
One of the most common complaints is, “Well, my teeth might be a little bit straighter, but I can’t bite well anymore.”
Companies such as SmileDirectClub shot to success by selling Invisalign-style tooth trays directly to consumers, eliminating office visits and providing savings of up to 70%. To date, SmileDirect has more than 500,000 patients nationwide. A recent deal with CVS Health will also double SmileDirect’s retail locations from 246 outposts in North America. Also, United Healthcare announced last week that SmileDirect’s services are now covered in-network for its 1.5 million-plus members.
How Does it Work
The DIY label misnomer is that dentists are not needed. But there are doctors involved at every step of the way. For most SmileDirect customers, that interaction happens remotely.
The process begins when customers get their teeth scanned at a retail location. They can also use a mail-back mold kit to create dental impressions at home. Then, a SmileDirect professional (dentist or orthodontist) reviews the resulting images alongside the patient’s medical history. In some cases X-rays or additional information might be needed before approving treatment.
Patients who get the OK then receive a full set of custom aligners in the mail, along with instructions on providing virtual progress photos and feedback to an assigned dentist or orthodontist at least once every 90 days.
Successful teeth straightening requires face time with a professional from start to finish. There are many things a dentist cannot assess remotely. They need to know the health of the supporting gum tissue and bones. They need to know whether there’s any pathology or other things that might impact the treatment. They need to know how the jaw moves and functions so that they can help patients have a healthy, functional bite when treatment is done.
What Happens When Things Go Wrong
Sloppy treatments can cause problems long term with the health and function and life span of a tooth. One of the challenges is that the problems that can result often don’t show up immediately. So people don’t relate those problems with trying to move their teeth.
Orthodontists have had it great for a long time. A lot of this is about protecting their market. People should know that teeth straightening is not something that just changes your look. It’s actually a very complicated biological procedure.
Mail-order orthodontia is too tempting for many to resist. This is something that doctors really need to oversee. It’s something more and more people will learn over time. Unfortunately, it might be at their own expense.”
These invisible teeth aligners have a mixed crowd of those that support and those who would never use the product. Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg who cares for his patients unlike any other dentist in South Florida, primarily the Plantation area says it is best to come in and have a proper dentist take care of you., completely agrees. He has the best x-ray equipment you can possibly get photos created by. Whether you are getting extensive work done like a root canal, Invisalign, crowns, or full dentures, or lighter work such as whitening, fillings, or preventative oral care, this is your dentist’s office.
Dr. Rosenberg is a Miami, Florida native who received his undergrad degree from Emory University and got his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown University Dental School. He has been in private practice for over 20 years. Dr. Rosenberg is President-Elect of the Broward County Dental Association. He is Vice President of the Broward Dental Research Clinic where has been on the board of directors for five years. He is a member of the Intracoastal Study Club. Professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association, and the Broward County Dental Association.