We live in a world that’s built around convenience. Whatever we need can be ordered fast, cheap, and arrive on our doorstep in just a day or two. While there’s no denying that this has made certain aspects of our lives easier, it’s come with some unintended side effects, too. You can even see this influence in the world of orthodontics, where there’s been a big increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available. This is why we’re taking a look at the benefits of choosing an orthodontist over DTC aligners.
These companies have big marketing machines behind them, so you’ve probably seen their flashy advertising in commercials or online ads. Many of them promise to straighten smiles at home for a fraction of the cost a trained orthodontist would charge. While we certainly understand why this would sound like a good deal to many consumers, most orthodontists don’t recommend these treatments. You only get one smile, after all, and it’s too important to trust to just anybody! To learn more about why an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Willett is your best chance for true orthodontic success, keep reading below!
What are DTC aligners?
Most direct-to-consumer aligner companies market themselves as an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of an orthodontist. Customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back in by the consumer, a dentist or technician will review it and determine if they are a good candidate for their aligners. If they’re approved for the process, they’ll make aligners from the impression provided, then deliver them to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
The bar for being approved for DTC aligners is set extremely low. While that may seem like a good thing, many people get the okay for aligner treatment even if a different treatment method would work better for their case. In some ways, DTC aligners are a bit like DIY orthodontic treatment. That comes with a number of potential risks, many 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:
A true assessment of the patient’s specific needs
Orthodontics goes beyond simply straightening the teeth for a more attractive smile. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Willett is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral issues, from simple to complex. The first step in any orthodontic journey is a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth. Here at Lincoln Orthodontics, we will also take digital photographs of your teeth and x-rays if necessary. These images allow us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, which gives us the detailed information we need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
In contrast to this, DTC aligner companies must rely on nothing more than the basic information 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’s office eliminates any unnecessary risk since the treatment is built around your unique needs, including any dental work that’s needed.
Creating a customized treatment plan
Clear aligners can be a great fit for many patients, but 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.
Dr. Willett is an experienced orthodontist who takes pride in creating customized treatment plans for each patient. When you work with our talented team, we will take into account your unique needs, lifestyle, and goals, as well as the findings of your orthodontic examination. 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.
No consistent 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 orthodontists use this time to make any necessary adjustments, observe how the teeth are moving, and check that everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan.
DTC aligner companies do not provide any meaningful supervision. Patients are essentially left in charge of their own orthodontic journey, which may 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.
Orthodontists can offer comparable pricing & similar treatment times
Achieving a healthy smile that looks great and functions properly does require 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.
In reality, many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim, anyway! Here at Lincoln Orthodontics, we offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. Dr. Willett offers a variety of flexible payment options, as well, including:
- Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
- No-interest financing with affordable monthly payments
- Automatic monthly payments scheduled for your convenience
- Third-Party financing through LendingClub Patient Solutions
If you have dental insurance that will cover orthodontic treatment, our team can also work directly with your orthodontic insurance company to:
- Verify your orthodontic insurance benefit and terms
- Submit orthodontic claims for your prescribed treatment
- Receive payment directly from the insurance company, thereby reducing the amount you pay upfront
Trust your smile to the experts at Lincoln Orthodontics
It’s unlikely you would choose to undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional. We believe your smile deserves the same consideration! While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing compares to working with an orthodontist who has the education, training, and skill needed to move teeth successfully.
Dr. Willett has years of experience creating happy, healthy smiles in Lincoln and the surrounding communities. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can safely and effectively achieve a beautiful smile with Lincoln Orthodontics, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Willett!