In today’s world, almost anything we need can be delivered in a day or two with just the click of a button. Although this kind of quick service is incredibly convenient, it’s also come with some unintended side effects. We’ve all grown accustomed to wanting the fastest, cheapest, and easiest methods for everything, and in the orthodontic world, this has led to an increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available, like Smile Direct Club.
With their flashy advertising and promises of cheaper aligners from the comfort of home, we can certainly understand why these companies are tempting to consumers. However, most orthodontists and dentists won’t recommend them to patients seeking a straighter smile. Keep reading below to learn more about what DTC aligners are, why we aren’t big fans of them, and why choosing an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Christian Manley matters more than you might think!
What are DTC aligners?
Direct-to-consumer companies, like Smile Direct Club, market themselves as an alternative to in-office orthodontic treatment. Instead of supervised treatment from an established practice, these companies supply patients with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back in, they are purportedly reviewed by a dentist or technician who works for the company. This person will determine if the patient is a good candidate for their aligners. If they are approved for the process, aligners will be made from the impression the patient sent in, then delivered to them at home with instructions on how to wear them.
DTC aligners like to lure potential patients in with reduced costs and no in-office visits, so we certainly understand the appeal! However, those considering these companies should be aware that it’s extremely easy to be approved. While that may sound like a good thing, many people get the okay for aligner treatment even if they would be better served by a different treatment method under the direct supervision of an orthodontist.
This kind of DIY treatment comes with a number of potential risks, many of which can lead to unsatisfactory results–or worse. There are many important components of the orthodontic process missing with DTC aligners, some of which include the following.
Starting treatment off on the right foot
Orthodontics is about more than simply straightening teeth. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Manley is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral conditions, ranging from simple to complex. The first step in that process is a consultation that includes an orthodontic examination. At Manley Orthodontics, this is part of the Manley Smile Assessment, which is completely complimentary! This smile assessment is a comprehensive exam that includes digital photographs and x-rays to help us determine if you need treatment, and if so, which option would be best for your unique case. The photographs, x-rays, and thorough exam provide Dr. Manley with all the information he needs to create a customized treatment plan for each patient.
In contrast to this, companies like Smile Direct Club must rely on the basic information that is provided to them. Unfortunately, many oral health issues can be missed this way. Cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This can be problematic since the teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted. Working directly with an orthodontist’s office eliminates this unnecessary risk by building a treatment plan around your specific needs, including dental work if needed.
Supervising the treatment process
Whether a patient is in braces or wearing aligners, regular check-ups are an essential part of the orthodontic process. These visits occur roughly every 4-8 weeks, and we use this time to make adjustments if necessary, observe how the teeth are moving, and check that everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan.
There is no meaningful supervision with DTC aligner companies, leaving patients in charge of their own orthodontic experience. This can result in unexpected 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, this may go unnoticed and thus untreated, which could cause damage to a patient’s oral health and bite.
Creating personalized treatment plans
While clear aligner therapy can be an excellent choice for many patients, not everyone is a good candidate for it. In particular, cases that are complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, traditional braces or Damon self-ligating braces may be a better option.
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Manley will always consider a patient’s needs, lifestyle, and goals when creating a customized treatment plan for them. This happens in conjunction with the results of that initial consultation. A DTC aligner company won’t have access to the patient for an in-person examination or x-rays, meaning they may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good candidate for aligners or not.
Providing comparable pricing and treatment times
There’s no getting around the fact that it takes an investment of your time and funds to achieve a smile that looks and feels good. When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you really do get what you pay for! While 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.
The funny thing is, many qualified orthodontists are actually able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim. Christian Manley Orthodontics offers a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, along with full-payment discounts, third-party financing, and multi-family member discounts. Our office also utilizes the latest in orthodontic technology and techniques to give you the most optimal results in the shortest amount of time possible.
Expert care you know you can trust
Your smile lasts a lifetime, and is too important to trust to anything less than an expert. DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing the approval process for aligners, but this is no substitute for the education, training, and skills that an orthodontist will have. Dr. Manley is an award-winning orthodontist with years of experience creating healthier, straighter smiles for patients in Issaquah, Sammamish, and the surrounding communities. Your smile will be in the best hands at Manley Orthodontics.
For safe and effective orthodontic treatment, visit Christian Manley Orthodontics
Think about it: would you undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional? Of course not! Your smile deserves the same consideration. The talented team at Christian Manley Orthodontics can provide you with a rewarding, stress-free orthodontic experience from your first appointment to your last!
If you’re ready to learn more about how to safely achieve a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE Manley Smile Assessment, or click here to complete a virtual smile consult!