A new trend on social media has been the explosion of mail-order braces and clear aligners that are touted as being as effective as traditional braces and aligners at straightening teeth, but supposedly at a much lower cost.
As a professional dentist, it is disappointing and worrisome to see individuals taking such risks with their oral health and attempting to straighten their own teeth without a professional treatment.
Orthodontic care is complex, and involves familiarity with the workings of the teeth and bone in order to be truly effective. To demystify this process for our patients, as well as any readers seeking more information on the subject, we are happy to provide this information.
How Do Orthodontic Treatments Work?
Orthodontic treatments are performed using devices such as braces or clear acrylic aligner trays that are custom-fitted each patient and worn daily over a continuous period of time. Orthodontists perform the fitting once they evaluate the patient’s x-rays and perform a thorough examination to understand all the factors contributing to the patient’s condition.
Treatment may last for several months, and during the course of treatment, the aligners are adjusted periodically so as to gradually apply the required pressure to shift the teeth into their proper positions.
How Do Mail-Order Braces Work?
With most mail-order dental aligner programs you will have to purchase an aligner kit by mail, and you will use the kit to take putty impressions of your own teeth. These impressions, which you must mail back to the company, will be used as the mold from which your aligners will be cast. Once they are ready, the company mails you the aligners, which you should wear for a period of several months.
What Problems May Arise when using Mail-Order Aligner Kits?
Taking the molds of your own teeth is not actually as easy as it may sound. The material used to take the impressions may harden excessively and cause undue pressure on the teeth, even causing teeth to become loose or fall out.
Because the process of taking a good impression requires practice, it’s not likely that you’ll get it perfect the first time. This means that your aligners may not fit as perfectly as they should, or that you may have to try the process a few times in order to get a perfect fit.
If you end up settling for a fit that isn’t quite right, this could cause your teeth to shift into the wrong position, making matters worse.
Mail-order aligner kits don’t provide the advantage of a professional, specialized evaluation, nor are they made of the same state-of-the-art materials that are used in most professional orthodontic offices. This means that even if they do the trick, your mail-order aligners won’t do the job as well as those that would be prescribed and fitted by an orthodontist.
In some cases, either the mail-order aligner kits may fall short of your goals by not fully correcting your whole issue, or they could actually do more harm than good and cause further damage. In both cases, you could end up needing future orthodontic treatment, which would mean that your entire mail order DIY adventure would have been in vain.
To learn more about dental aligners and discover the best and most cost-effective treatment to straighten your teeth, it is highly recommended that you visit a qualified dental clinic, such as Dr. Kenneth Cho Dentistry, a full-service dental facility serving patients in the areas of La Habra and Buena Park, CA.