We’re fortunate to live in a world where almost anything we need can be ordered quickly, easily, and delivered to our doorstep in just a few days. We’re also spoiled for choice, with cheap deals and bargain basement prices available on everything from beauty products to kitchen appliances. While there’s little doubt that this is convenient for busy families on a budget, it’s also had some unintended side effects, even in the world of orthodontics. Most notably, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of direct-to-consumer treatments available to the general public.
These companies have pretty clever marketing behind them, so you’ve probably seen their commercials and online ads that promise to straighten your smile from the comfort of home for less than an orthodontist would charge. While it’s understandable why this would be tempting to some consumers, most orthodontists and dentists don’t recommend these types of treatments, including Dr. Kaplan. Let’s take a closer look at what DTC aligners are all about, and why you should trust something as important as your smile to an experienced orthodontist only!
What are DTC aligners?
Most direct-to-consumer companies market themselves as an alternative to professional treatment that takes place in an office under the supervision of a trained orthodontist. Customers are supplied with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners. Once the impression has been taken and mailed back in, a dentist or technician will review it and determine if the patient is a good candidate for their aligners. If they’re approved for the process, they will make aligners from the impression provided, then deliver them to the patient at home with instructions on how to wear them.
The bar for being approved for DTC aligners is very low. You may think that sounds like a good thing, but it actually means that many people get the okay for aligner treatment when they would be much better served by a different treatment method under the direct supervision of an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Kaplan.
In fact, DTC aligners are a little bit like a DIY orthodontic treatment, and that comes with a number of potential risks. This can lead to unsatisfactory results or unexpected problems for patients. There are several important components of the orthodontic process missing when it comes to DTC aligners, including:
Assessing the specific needs of each individual patient
Orthodontics is about more than simply straightening the teeth for an improved cosmetic appearance. An experienced orthodontist is trained to identify and treat a variety of oral issues, from simple to complex. The first step in any orthodontic journey is a consultation that includes a thorough examination of the mouth. At Kaplan Orthodontics, we’ll also take digital photographs of your teeth, along with panoramic and cephalometric x-rays if necessary. Both the exam and these images allow us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, giving Dr. Kaplan the information he needs to diagnose any issues and create a personalized treatment plan for you.
DTC aligner companies, on the other hand, must rely on nothing more than the basic information that is provided to them by the patient. This can lead to many oral health issues being missed. Cavities, gum disease, and other related problems can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. The teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted, so this can wind up being problematic. Working directly with an orthodontist eliminates any unnecessary risk since the treatment will be built around your unique needs, including any dental work that’s needed.
Creating a customized treatment plan
Clear aligners can be an amazing option for many patients, but they aren’t a good fit for everyone. Cases that are particularly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these patients, traditional braces may be a better method of treatment.
Dr. Kaplan is able to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient by taking their unique needs, lifestyle, and goals into account. This happens in conjunction with the results of their initial consultation. Without access to the patient for an in-person examination or x-rays, DTC aligner companies may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a good fit for aligners or not.
Regular supervision throughout the treatment process
Regular check-ups are a vital part of the treatment process for every orthodontic patient. These visits occur approximately every 4-8 weeks, and during this time, Dr. Kaplan will make any necessary adjustments, observe how the teeth are moving, and check that everything is proceeding according to schedule.
DTC aligner companies do not provide any meaningful supervision, which means patients are more or less left in charge of their own orthodontic journey. This can lead to unforeseen 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 in long-term care, problems like this may go unnoticed and thus untreated, eventually causing damage to a patient’s oral health and bite.
Comparable costs and similar treatment times
There’s no denying that achieving a healthy, functional smile will require an investment of your time and funds. Even though DTC aligners may seem like an inexpensive and easy way to straighten your smile, be aware that they can end up costing more in the long run when you consider all 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 like Dr. Kaplan can.
All that aside, many qualified orthodontists are able to compete with the cost and treatment times that most DTC companies claim, anyway! Kaplan Orthodontics is proud to offer a variety of affordable treatment options for patients of all ages, including Invisalign clear aligners. We have multiple payment plans designed to fit every budget, and we also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. We can even file any insurance claims on your behalf!
For a beautifully aligned smile, trust the experts at Kaplan Orthodontics
You wouldn’t undergo any type of medical treatment without an initial evaluation or ongoing supervision from a medical professional, so why not give your smile the same consideration?
While DTC companies claim to have qualified dentists and technicians overseeing their approval process, nothing can compare to working with an orthodontist who has the education, training, and skill needed to achieve superior results. Dr. Kaplan has years of experience creating gorgeous smiles in Dunwoody and the surrounding communities. Your smile will be in the best hands possible with our talented team!
If you’re ready to learn more about how Kaplan Orthodontics can safely and effectively transform your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation.