In an effort to save money and speed the process of straightening teeth, people are frequently turning to at-home teeth straightening kits and treatments that they order online. As a 2017 ABC News article reports, 13 percent of the members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) report repairing damage from patients who have used these do-it-yourself teeth straightening methods at home.
Smile Direct Club is just one of many online companies that appeal to people’s budgets and desire for an improved smile. Orthodontists have come to refer to them as mail order braces. The premise is you go to a Smile Direct Office or have a kit sent to you to take impressions of your teeth. After you send in your impressions, the company claims that a licensed dentist reviews them. However, you have no way of knowing whether that person has proper credentials or not. The company then mails your clear plastic aligners for your orthodontic treatment.
Another company that has jumped on the bandwagon of mail order braces is Smile Love. It operates under the same premise as Smile Direct Club, and the two companies compete with several others to get people looking for cosmetic enhancement to spend money with them rather than visit a dentist.
This option presents several risks, with the most obvious one being that patients never receive an examination or supervision from actual dentists, in person. According to the AAO, the risk of lifelong and costly oral health problems is simply not worth the risk of saving money upfront by ordering teeth straightening aligners through the mail. It officially released a policy statement against the use of at-home teeth straightening kits and treatments in 2017.
Another thing to consider is that the quality of the teeth straightening will be nowhere near treatment received by visiting a professional dentist. Remember, you get what you pay for. This might be a temporary, quick-fix, with a lower financial investment in the beginning but obtaining orthodontic treatment the proper way is the better investment over time. Additionally, orthodontic treatment is about more than aesthetics. It should also significantly improve your oral health, something that makers of do-it-yourself kits cannot guarantee.