At-home aligner companies have become very popular over the last few years. They started with companies such as Straight teeth Direct and Straight my teeth. Since then there are a lot of new companies to occupy this space.
But why?? How did this happen and is it OK?
The truth is, despite most of us wanting an amazing smile that turns heads, a smile that possibly helps us meet the partner of our dreams or even unlocks the key to a new career. In truth, most people don’t want to pay lots to achieve this. Also, we don’t want to spend lots of time doing this. So why the hell would we go to the dentist and pay them lots of cash and then as a thank you the dentist pokes you with a sharp thing!!
The at-home market made perfect sense, if I can get the same result at home for cheaper, what is the point of going to the dentist. Most people can work out why it is cheaper, there is no dentist, no nurse no practice. So far, all this is making sense.
OK, so that’s it, these at-home guys do things cheaper and with more convenience than your local dentist. OK, sign me up!
But is there a catch?
Honestly, it depends. If you are in good health including oral health and have a dentist that you see twice a year with no signs of cavities or gum disease, and your case is simple, then actually yeah sign up. These guys are super convenient and usually cheaper. Some offer payment plans and some even have offices to scan your mouth so at least you get to speak to somebody.
The other side is if you have a complex case, which may involve rotated teeth, or crowding or teeth pushed in or very large gaps, aligner systems like these may not be for you. In fact, all aligners may not be for you. If your case is of enough complexity, you may need to actually go see an orthodontist.
Most people lie somewhere in the middle, which makes the case complex. If you have had a few fillings or root treatments in the past few years, it could be that your oral hygiene may not be as good as we all hope it would be. If your oral hygiene is bad enough, braces and aligners WILL make it worse. Probably worth getting that checked out first.
Also, if you have gum disease, it’s worth getting a professional opinion first. It may seem counterintuitive because if you have bad gums your teeth will move quicker (result!) but they may move right out of your mouth (not so good). Added to that, all dentists and orthodontists advise that you keep up with good oral hygiene throughout your treatment.
Finally, what if something goes wrong?
Truthfully, the at-home aligner companies have protocols and procedures in place so if there are any issues they will walk you through their process, which will either involve seeing your dentist or a specialist that they advise. In any case, your friendly neighbourhood dentist is there to get you out of any problems, so don’t fret too much.
Last thoughts. For a reasonable number of people, the at-home aligner companies have a lot of merits and are worth considering. If you feel that your case is more complex, or you know that you may have a couple of extra chocolates, sometimes it is still worth speaking to your dentist before you make your decision.
Dr Abraham McCarthy