With more or people seeking to achieve straighter teeth comfortably, secretly, quickly and cheaply there has been a large rise in the number of companies offering straight teeth direct to the patient, without visiting a regular dentist or orthodontist. This blog post takes a delve into the current trend and asks questions which you may want to consider.
How do these ‘straight teeth direct to the patient’ systems work?
Typically there are three steps:
- A virtual consultation where you upload your photographs. You receive an impression kit which allows you to take a dental impression of your teeth, you then send this to the company. The company then make your teeth straightening aligners which are sent directly to you.
These systems seem popular as they appear to offer:
- A simple and easy way to straighter teeth. A low-cost option.
Some of these systems also offer an app which allows you to fast track the process and connect directly to the company offering the aligners.
Is it a good idea to have straight teeth direct with a manufacturer?
It is absolutely understandable that you might want to cut out repeated trips to the dentist, and have the cheapest orthodontic treatment possible.
Part of the diagnostic process which a dentist will go through before deciding whether you are suitable for invisible aligners includes:
- A detailed check of your oral hygiene. If you have the early warning signs of gum disease or areas of dental decay (which can often only be seen using magnification and high-powered light at the dentist) then having any form of orthodontics could compromise your oral health.
- A discussion about the outcomes you wish to achieve. Whilst you may want to have clear braces you may find that there are other orthodontic systems which allow you to achieve your goals quicker, with fewer trips to the clinic and cheaper. Only by having a full consultation with an orthodontist able to offer the full range of treatments will you have a clear idea of which is best for you.
It’s a little bit like purchasing a car. If you walked into a showroom which only sold Ford Fiestas then you are going to get sold a Ford Fiesta! Whilst this might be an excellent car it may not be the best car for you and the way in which you want to use it. Orthodontics is very much the same, talking to someone which has a wide range of options available ensures you get the most impartial advice.
Invisible aligners are an excellent treatment but are definitely not suitable for everyone that wants them.
Should I choose an orthodontist instead?
A specialist orthodontist will:
- Take into account your overall face shape. Orthodontic isn’t just about having straighter teeth, a specialist orthodontist will look at the way your teeth bite together as well as the overall shape of your face which will be governed by the position of your teeth. You wouldn’t want to have straighter teeth but at the same time move them into a position which left your cheeks and lips looking wrinkled and more aged! Your teeth play a big part in your overall facial athletics and this should be considered when deciding where to go for your orthodontic treatment.
- Liaise closely with your current dentist. this will give your orthodontist a clear idea of your overall dental health, what has happened before and how your dental health will be managed after you have been through the orthodontic process.
- Ask a series of questions to determine which orthodontic treatment is best. This ensures you get the best options with your informed consent.
Pros and cons of Invisalign versus straight teeth direct with the manufacturer
- Cost: Straight teeth direct with manufacturers will often be cheaper than seeing an orthodontist.
- Assurance: Visiting a fully trained and registered orthodontist means you have the assurance that you’re not going to damage your teeth further I having orthodontics on teeth which need remedial health treatments.
- Appointments: Regular appointments with conventional orthodontist will mean you can track progress, ask questions and the treatment can be modified if you are not achieving the results desired along the way. Dealing with a company direct via an app on your phone may be more problematic in this regard.
- Comfort: Treatments should have equal comfort whether they are delivered by an orthodontist or direct with the manufacturer.
- Complexity: Because the orthodontic aligners direct with the manufacturer only offer one type of orthodontic brace (clear aligners) the complexity of treatment is limited. A specialist orthodontist has the widest range of treatments available and can therefore treat highly complex cases which are untreatable with clear braces.
- Speed of treatment: Treatment times will usually be identical if you have clear aligners with an orthodontist. However because orthodontists are able to offer other treatments you may be able to have treatment quicker with an orthodontist.
This article has been written by Dr Stefan Abela a specialist orthodontist in Harley Street, London W1. Find out more about the role of a consultant orthodontist.
Dr. Stefan Abela
BChD, MFDS, RCS Eng, MSc, MORTH RCS Ed, AHEA, FDS Orth RCS Ed
Stefan is a Consultant in Orthodontics at one of the most prestigious London teaching hospitals; Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.
Stefan is also a specialist in Orthodontics and is registered on the General Dental Council (GDC) specialist list. Stefan qualified as a dental surgeon in 2003 and underwent further training in various specialties including restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry, oral medicine and complex oral and maxillofacial surgery including the management of facial trauma.