Don’t let your DIY orthodontics become a Pinterest Fail

You see them everywhere these days…those ads from mail-order aligner companies promising to give you perfect teeth, with little hassle, all without ever making you leave your house.

Of course, that sounds like a great idea. It’s convenient, yes. And while we have super comfortable chairs and a really welcoming office, the idea of putting on aligners on your own couch while watching Netflix is appealing. You could even post about your newly straightened teeth on Pinterest!

The problem with these companies, though, is the lack of hands-on, personal oversight. Without an orthodontist, you could suffer serious, irreversible damage to your teeth. You might save a little gas money, but your teeth could ultimately pay the price if you use one of these companies–and that would make for one massive Pinterest fail.

Still on the fence? Here are several reasons why mail-order aligners are a bad idea:

1) You don’t have regular checkups.

With traditional treatment, you’ll visit the orthodontist for x-rays, initial photos and a diagnostic plan (the most important part). After your initial smile analysis, you’ll revisit in 8-12 week intervals to see if you need new aligners, your bands need to be tightened, and for your overall dental health. From start to finish, treatment can take as little as 6 months.

With mail-order, you don’t have regular checkups. They send you a kit to help you take impressions of your teeth, you send it back, and your new aligners are mailed to you with instructions. Convenient, yes, but not the best way to treat your teeth.

The companies claim your treatment will be done in three to six months, and you’ll never likely see a licensed professional before or after that.

Who is checking the diagnostic plan? 90% of the time it’s not an orthodontist (a dentist with 2-3 years extra training in tooth movement). Instead it’s anyone with a dental license regardless of their education and training in tooth movement. The huge problem here is dental school doesn’t teach you about tooth movement. You need further education to become an orthodontist to understand how to do that.

Who is evaluating the final bite to see if your “new bite” will cause you harm in the future? No one.

What about the overall health of the bones and gums as the teeth move…who is monitoring that? No one.

2) You’ll receive substandard care.

Aligning your bite and straightening your teeth isn’t a quick fix. It’s a slow process that’s all about shifting ligaments and bones around your teeth. If this isn’t done the right way, and if it’s not closely monitored, you can do serious, even irreparable damage to your pearly whites.

The American Association of Orthodontics (they’re really smart people) even issued a warning about this. “The risks associated with ‘do it yourself’ orthodontics can, and should be, avoided,” they said.

We agree.

3) The mail-order company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.

In other words, you can’t begin orthodontic treatment until your teeth and gums are cleared by a dentist. And, in many cases, you need a dental specialist, periodontist, to further evaluate your bone health prior to starting orthodontic treatment.

If you have problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, chipped teeth or cavities, an orthodontist is going to send you back to a dentist to get these taken care of first.

You’re not going to get that type of treatment and interaction from a mail-order company.

4) Your insurance probably won’t pay.

The mail-order companies advertise that their treatment is often covered. But self-treatment, without the right supervision, likely wouldn’t be a covered expense in most insurance plans.

Insurance companies aren’t going to pay for something that doesn’t meet their quality standards–because when the treatment fails, more expenses are headed their way.

5) Cost.

Most of these companies charge around $2,200 for alignment and retainers. This fee is for very limited simple fixes. But guess what? MOST orthodontists can give you a better, faster result for simple fixes at or near the same fee.

Our advice to you: Stay away from do-it-yourself orthodontic care. If not, you’re taking a big risk and only asking for trouble.

Schedule an appointment with a licensed orthodontist, like Reagin Orthodontics, to learn more about your options when it comes to making your teeth pretty enough for the perfect Pinterest post!