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There are some company that specialize in providing orthodontic treatment through mail orders and this is becoming popular. Population is being bombarded by numerous adds and “experts” that claim that this is  great and inexpensive option to correct your  misaligned teeth.

Is it really a trend worth taking a risk of? Is this something that worth trying and pursuing?Is this a real treatment option that can save time and money?Let us try to explore these questions and arrive at some honest answers.

At-home aligner therapy or mail-in order trays are very different from in-office orthodontics. The first red flag is raised when you realize that with the smile care option or smile direct option, at no point of time you actually get to see nor speak to a qualified orthodontist nor any doctor at all. You are supposed to take your own impressions and photos/selfies and mail them where a dentist will devise a treatment plan without having ever met you in person and direct a third party to fabricate the trays and send them to you. This whole idea seems so wrong on so many levels. Firstly, taking an impression is not a simple job.

Sometimes, even an experienced hand needs to repeat the impressions many times to record the tissues and dental anatomy correctly. So, what is the guarantee that a first timer would be able to do an acceptable job? Even if you manage to take your impression, would you be able to identify if something is not recorded correctly or if the impression of a diagnostic quality? Remember the effectiveness, comfort and fit of your aligners is based on this impression. So, if you make a mistake unknowingly, not only your money could wasted, but, you might end up with other problems due to poor fit of the trays and some undesirable changes that would be difficult to correct. Plus, without a regular in-person follow up, you wouldn’t know if the treatment is progressing as planned or if it needs to be tweaked. You are causing permanent changes to your biology, the way you bite, chew, smile, etc. These are functionally and esthetically important changes that can have a huge consequence emotionally, psychologically and functionally if something goes wrong. Also, due to the whole process being so non transparent with the involvement of a third party, you have no one you can complain to or to take responsibility for corrections and to correct the damage could cost a lot of money and time.

Remember, orthodontic treatment is an active and interactive process. A qualified professional tracking your progress is any day better than you being at sea on your own with some minimal guidance. Aligner therapy is not a stock resolution that can be applied to all orthodontic problems. Diagnosis, based on physical assessment of your condition is the key to right therapy. Your orthodontist will recommend alternate treatment options if you are not a suitable candidate for aligner therapy. Seek 2-3 opinions before you decide.

Initial consultations are offered free of cost and might turn out to be the best thing you do before you start with major orthodontic treatment. In-office treatment gives you peace of mind as you are in safe hands and you will be seen by the orthodontist every 4-8 weeks to make sure all is well and to check if any course correction is required. Even after your teeth are straightened, it is necessary to wear the right type of retainers to prevent any relapse or in other words, prevent the teeth from moving back into their old positions. Customizing your retainers would be an easy job for an orthodontist who has been seeing you regularly throughout your treatment and who has intimate knowledge about your case rather than a mail order company that is probably using a “one thing suits everybody” kind of approach. Do not forget that aligners, braces, etc. are just tools in your orthodontist’s kitty. They are not commodities that can be bought off the shelf and used to get results. Tools are best used by experts to get desired results under controlled conditions. So, make a wise decision and educate yourself before putting your money on some dangerous, questionable, and costly treatment modalities.

After all, your health lies in your own hands and you get only one set of permanent teeth to play around with. Do not lose them see a professional opinion before wasting your  money on some shady and dangerous treatment modalities.

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