In today’s society, we’ve gotten used to getting anything we could ever want or need, all at the push of a button. While this has definitely made things more convenient, it’s had some unexpected side effects in the field of orthodontics. This kind of instant access has led to an increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available on the market, such as mail-order aligners. When treatment is so readily available, you may be wondering if there are really benefits of an orthodontist vs a product like Smile Direct Club.
These companies go all out on eye-catching advertisements that promise you can straighten your smile from the comfort of your own home for less money! We understand why this is tempting for a lot of consumers. However, most orthodontists and dentists won’t recommend them, and we’re here to tell you why! Keep reading below to learn more about what mail-order aligners like Smile Direct Club are, and how Hunter Family Orthodontics can more safely and effectively give you the smile you want and deserve.
What are Mail-Order aligners?
Mail-order aligner companies market themselves as an alternative to orthodontic treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of a trained orthodontist. The first step is supplying customers with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back in, a dentist or technician will review it and determine if the patient is a good candidate for their aligners. If they are approved for the process, aligners will be made from the impression you sent in. These will then be delivered to you at home with instructions on how to wear them.
Anyone considering using aligners from Smile Direct Club or similar companies should be aware that it’s extremely easy to get approved. While that may sound like a good thing, the truth is that many people are okayed for aligner treatment even if different treatment methods offered by an orthodontist would be better suited for their smile.
This kind of DIY treatment comes with a number of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results–or worse! There are several important components of the orthodontic process missing with mail-order aligners, some of which we’ve outlined below.
Assessing your specific needs
Orthodontics is about so much more than straightening the teeth. An experienced orthodontist is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral issues, ranging from simple to complex. This attention to your specific needs is a major benefit of treatment from an orthodontist vs. Smile Direct Club. The first step in that process is a consultation that includes a face-to-face orthodontic examination. At Hunter Family Orthodontics, our treatment coordinator will take digital photographs of your teeth, along with a panoramic and cephalometric x-ray if necessary. These images allow us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue. Dr. Hunter will also perform a thorough examination. Together, this detailed information gives us what we need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
When you work directly with an orthodontist’s office, it eliminates all unnecessary risks. Treatment plans are built around your individual needs, including any dental work that may be needed. In contrast to this, mail-order aligner companies must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them. Unfortunately, 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. Since your teeth and gums should always be healthy before you attempt to move your teeth, this can be a real problem.
Creating customized treatment plans
Clear aligner therapy can be a great choice for many patients, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s especially tricky for cases that are complex or severe may need more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, traditional metal or clear braces may be a better option.
Our team is made up of Dr. Ross Hunter and his expert support staff who always consider a patient’s needs, lifestyle, and goals when creating an individualized treatment plan for them. This happens in conjunction with the results of their initial consultation. Since they can’t see you in person for an examination or x-rays, mail-order aligner companies like Smile Direct Club may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good fit for aligners or not.
Supervising the treatment process
Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits take place roughly every 4-8 weeks, and Dr. Hunter uses this time to observe how the teeth are moving, check that everything is on track, and make adjustments if necessary.
There is no meaningful supervision with mail-order aligner companies. For all intents and purposes, patients are left in charge of their own orthodontic experience, which can lead to unexpected consequences. For example, aligners may not fit correctly, causing irritation and pain. A bad 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 you even knowing. Without an orthodontist involved, problems like this may go unnoticed and untreated, eventually causing damage to your oral health and bite.
Comparable pricing and similar treatment times
Achieving a healthy smile that looks amazing no doubt requires an investment of your time and money. That old saying that you get what you pay for couldn’t be more accurate than when referring to orthodontic treatment! While mail-order aligners may seem like an less expensive and easier 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 can’t give you the same level of supervised care that a trained orthodontist can.
In reality, many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most mail-order aligner companies claim. Here at Hunter Family Orthodontics, we offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. To ensure treatment is affordable, we have a variety of payment options, including cash, credit card, and financing. We even offer automatic payments!
Our office takes advantage of the latest in orthodontic technology and techniques to give you the best results in the shortest amount of time possible.
Expert care that you can trust
You only get one smile, and it’s too important not to trust an expert! While mail-order aligner companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing the approval process for their aligners, there’s no substitute for working with an orthodontist who has education, training, and expertise in moving teeth successfully. Our orthodontists have years of experience creating beautiful, healthy smiles in our community, so you can always trust in us to provide the highest quality orthodontic care!
For treatment that’s safe and effective, visit Hunter Family Orthodontics
At Hunter Family Orthodontics, our goal is to provide you with a rewarding, stress-free orthodontic experience from your first appointment to your last. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely achieve a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation! Would you undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional? Of course not! We believe your smile deserves the same consideration.