Do DIY aligner products work?
A trend causing concern is the do-it-yourself (DIY) aligner products, which are now on the market for adults looking at teeth straightening options.
More than a little caution is required with these clear aligner products. It seems a little knowledge goes a long way. Among the choices are Smile Direct Club, Straight Teeth Direct and Ezysmiles, to name just a few examples.
These products market directly to consumers. Essentially, they allow people to treat themselves, with very little or no doctor interaction at all. With financial savings likely to be the major driver behind a purchase decision, DIY teeth straightening certainly presents as an attractive option for some. The process is simple too. All it takes is sending a mould or model of your teeth to them, and a series of aligners will arrive at your doorstep.
No doubt, there will be a very small number for whom this treatment will work, i.e. they’ll achieve a result that is satisfactory to them. Most people, however, will see limited improvement or none at all. In the worst cases, people will see side effects such as gum recession, joint pains, an inability to bite properly, or even tooth loss. Ouch!
Why is your orthodontist’s experience important?
When implemented correctly by an orthodontist who has designed the ideal treatment for patients, clear aligner technology (and any adult teeth straightening option) is effective.
In the right hands, they can produce excellent results. Teeth don’t know the difference between fixed metal braces or removable aligner trays; they will simply respond to the force that’s moving them. This is why it is essential your orthodontist has a very good understanding of tooth movement because it is through this understanding that good results are achieved.
Unfortunately, not all clinicians bring the same level of experience to their patients, and this can affect the outcome of straightening treatment. Some are simply better or more experienced than others. As more non-specialist dentists offer clear aligner technologies through their practice, there is a risk for patients to receive treatment that is not ideal. Experience and knowledge of how teeth move is a crucial input to straightening adult teeth. Get this wrong and the outcome is likely to fall well short of expectations.
Even if you opt for teeth straightening through a dentist, I would still encourage you to seek a second opinion from a specialist orthodontist. They could even work together to devise the most ideal plan, which means beautiful smiles all round.
Teeth Straightening is not so simple…
The human body is a very complex system and needs to be treated as such. There is no such thing as one size fits all and this rule applies to your teeth. Be aware that no single technique for moving teeth is suitable for everyone. The best solutions are tailored to an individual’s requirements.
The other challenge with clear aligner technology as a straightening option is that it demands a high level of compliance from the patient. Aligners will only work if they’re worn, not if they’re left in the box in your bathroom cupboard. By working with an orthodontist, who will schedule regular appointments to check progress and adjust treatment if required, you can stay motivated to stay on track.
If you are considering teeth straightening as an adult, be sure to get all the information, regardless of whether you consult a dentist, orthodontist or the internet. Companies offering straightening products market directly to consumers and will be light on the details of side effects and drawbacks.
Consult with a doctor you trust. Verify they are a specialist. Discuss the best way to straighten your teeth, considering all factors, including your lifestyle, appearance and financial circumstances. That way you can be sure you’re in the hands of a professional who truly cares about you.