The practice of orthodontics is not a one-size-fits-all industry, and that’s because every person who walks through our doors has a different set of needs and a different treatment plan to fit those needs. There is no substitute for individualized care – which is why the surge of interest in mail-order orthodontics is concerning to many orthodontists across the country.
Mail-order aligners promise to cut the middleman out of orthodontics (the orthodontist, themselves), cut out the cost of orthodontics, and cut out the need to leave your home for any means during your treatment. While all of these cuts may seem like a God-send at the outset, they significantly jeopardize the quality of your care and place your oral health at a drastic risk. If you have begun to question whether mail-order aligners are the right fit for you, consider the following.
What are mail order aligners?
Mail-order aligners from companies like SmileDirect Club offer a remote orthodontic experience that provides their customers with a series of aligner trays and an app that monitors their progress. They claim that their services don’t require regular meetings with an orthodontist and that you can take charge of your orthodontic treatment on your own from taking your own impressions to deciding how often to wear your aligners. While these companies often boast that they are cheaper alternatives to traditional orthodontics, the discount they are offering is subtracted from their quality.
A good rule of thumb for determining whether to trust any product – especially products that claim to benefit your health and wellness – is to watch out for statements that sound too good to be true. Be skeptical of loaded words like “Smart” or “Pro.” Be wary of prices that are drastically different than what professionals charge. In the health world, we often find that patients are led astray by companies claiming to have their best interests at heart when really they are providing a shortcut to rejuvenation that skips many of the necessary steps. Let’s dig a little deeper.
You Won’t Get Direct Supervision
Usually, the first step towards a straighter smile is a comprehensive exam conducted by a professional orthodontist. This exam allows the doctor to determine the type of treatment required for alignment as well as assess the patient’s need for additional dental care before beginning. After the initial exam, you’ll be expected to meet with your orthodontist for follow-up appointments once every 6-8 weeks to check on your progress. All of these in-person meetings are vital to ensure that your teeth are straightened safely and successfully.
Mail-order orthodontics claim that these visits aren’t necessary. Instead, they outsource the direct supervision of a trained orthodontist to a virtual appointment at best and an app on your phone at worst. Perhaps the mail-order club mitigates the lack of in-person care by offering for you to meet on occasion at one of their physical locations – however, these locations are not always nearby and may not even exist in your state at all. No matter what mail-order orthodontics may claim, an app cannot replace years of school and experience. Without direct supervision of your care, your treatment plan becomes drastically cookie-cutter, which leads us to our next point.
You Won’t Get Specialized Care
Imagine you needed surgery that would alter the way your body functioned. Would you feel comfortable if your surgeon allowed you to decide how the surgery should be performed? While orthodontic treatment is admittedly much more of a long-term process than surgery, tooth alignment is a body-altering process that requires the specialized care of a physician. Most mail-order orthodontics put the ball in your court, allowing you to make serious decisions regarding your healthcare that really should be determined by a trained orthodontist.
With mail-order orthodontics, you make your own impressions. You choose how long to wear your aligners and when. You decide when to consult your doctor. But at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics, we know that every smile is different. From the way your teeth grow naturally to the bite pattern or malocclusion you exhibit, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan – no matter what mail-order orthodontics may tell you! Without the direct supervision of your orthodontist, your treatment plan lacks the ability to adapt to the way your mouth reacts to treatment. Without adapting, you may cause more damage to your teeth overall. Besides, there is a range of different treatment options, and aligners aren’t designed for every individual’s needs.
You Won’t Get the Desired Effects
Without the proper care provided by a trained orthodontist, mail-order orthodontics run the risk of ruining your teeth in the long run. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) are decidedly not in favor of mail-order aligners for the reasons listed above. There are multiple active lawsuits against companies like SmileDirectClub due to the ineffective treatment of their patients which has in some cases caused worsened alignment and long-term pain.
When mail-order aligners cause issues for patients, professional orthodontic treatment is often required to address these issues, leaving the patient right back where they started and owing even more money to their orthodontic journey than if they had simply begun this process with an orthodontist.
Place Your Trust in the Professionals at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics
Dr. Wolf knows that every patient is different. Every mouth is unique, and every orthodontic treatment plan should mirror that. We also believe that patients should be totally educated and comfortable with the care they receive.
If you are considering mail-order orthodontic treatment, why not first try a free consultation with one of our highly-experienced orthodontists? Your treatment plan is important. Make sure that you have all the information you need before making a decision about your healthcare. We can’t wait to get you started on your journey to a straighter smile!