Straighter teeth delivered: read this before you DIY

Chances are you’ve seen advertisements around the city or on your Facebook feed from companies promising they can deliver straighter teeth with removable trays – without you ever needing to step foot into a dentist’s office.  If you’ve been tempted by these offers, it’s important to understand the potential risks and disadvantages of trying to manage your own orthodontic care without visiting a dentist. Here are some frequently asked questions about mail order aligners, answered by Dr. Romney Piamonte, a certified Invisalign and Clear Correct provider at Central Park West Dentistry.

Mail-in clear aligner services look like essentially the same thing as in-office treatments like Invisalign and Clear Correct…or at least they do on the surface. What are the similarities between them, and where do those similarities end?  

The similarities pretty much end at the fact that they are clear and intended to move teeth. You never actually see a dentist when doing the mail-in clear aligners, while Invisalign and Clear Correct are done under the careful in-person supervision of a dentist.

Why is it important that you visit a real, live, specially trained provider for an evaluation before starting clear alignment treatment?

There are a lot of underlying issues like cavities or gum disease that could be left undiagnosed/untreated by not visiting a dentist. Think of any improvements to your smile like veneers or teeth straightening as building a beautiful new home – you would want to make sure that the foundation (overall oral health) is solid and sound before you build it. There are also some things that can make teeth movement more complicated, including the presence of implants or ankylosed teeth where tooth roots have fused to the bone.

What can go wrong over the course of clear alignment treatment if you’re not checking in with an expert at regular intervals? What sorts of things are you ordinarily looking for when someone comes in for a visit?

People using clear aligners can be at a higher risk for developing cavities, especially if they are not following the oral hygiene protocol while wearing the aligners for ~22 hours a day. Bone loss and root resorption can occur if teeth movements are not done properly. Also, a dentist can detect when teeth aren’t moving as planned and can make the appropriate corrections accordingly.

What services can a provider offer in the office that would improve the results of clear alignment treatment?

Sometimes, the most esthetic results can be achieved with a combination of teeth alignment and some restorative work by your dentist. These include bonding to improve the shape, texture, and color of the teeth. Dentists can also apply small “buttons” to your teeth to help apply pressure to different areas and help rotate a tooth that might otherwise not align correctly. This isn’t always an option with mail-in aligners.

Is there anyone at all who you would suggest might be a good candidate for at-home clear alignment treatment?   What if it looks like there’s just one tooth that’s a little off?  

I truly think that any clear alignment regimen should be done under the supervision of a dentist. Leaving conditions like cavities and periodontal disease undiagnosed/untreated can lead to devastating results.

If you have any questions about Clear Correct or Invisalign our team would be happy to answer them or to schedule a consultation.

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