Being a consumer is pretty fantastic these days. We don’t even have to clip coupons to find cheap deals for just about anything we want, and to top it off, we can have them delivered to our door in a matter of days! If you’re busy or on a budget, there’s no denying how convenient this is. Unfortunately, it can have some unintended consequences as well. This is something we’ve observed even in the world of orthodontics, especially with the increasing popularity of clear aligners available from certain direct-to-consumer companies. That’s why you should always choose an expert orthodontist over DTC aligners.
It’s easy to understand why people are attracted to the idea of straightening their smile from home. Using clever marketing tactics, these companies claim to produce the same results you’d get from an orthodontist’s office but at a fraction of the cost and without having to leave the house. This can certainly seem like an attractive proposal, but most orthodontists and dentists don’t recommend these types of treatments—and with good reason!
The truth is, your smile is too important to trust to anything but an expert. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Westfall is able to offer personalized service and exceptional results that these “DTC” aligner companies just can’t measure up to. For a closer look at some of the differences between DTC aligners and professional treatment by an established orthodontist, keep reading below.
Comparing Invisalign and direct-to-consumer clear aligners
Here at Westfall Orthodontics, our most popular alternative to traditional braces is the Invisalign clear aligner system. These innovative aligners allow us to straighten teeth and improve oral health without any brackets, wires, or bands. At first glance, DTC aligners and Invisalign can seem very similar, and maybe even interchangeable. Don’t be fooled!
Although both use a series of custom-designed clear aligners to move the teeth over time, there are a number of key differences in the two treatment processes. This includes the methods used to obtain impressions of the teeth, the actual treatment plan, and check-up visits throughout the patient’s orthodontic journey, among other things.
Taking dental impressions
Orthodontics goes beyond merely straightening teeth. As a dental specialist, an orthodontist like Dr. Westfall has spent years learning how to identify and treat a wide range of oral issues. The first step in this process is normally an orthodontic evaluation.
When you schedule a complimentary consultation with us, we’ll discuss the concerns you have about your smile and take several digital photographs. These give us a good look at your teeth and what’s happening beneath the gums, too, which gives us a better idea of what we’re dealing with. After reviewing these images, Dr. Westfall will point out any specific areas of concern, discuss your treatment options, and show you the results you can expect with his customized treatment plan.
DTC aligner companies, on the other hand, rely on basic information provided to them by the patient. Patients are also responsible for taking their own tooth impressions and sending them back in. As you can imagine, this is less than ideal. Impressions may not be entirely accurate, and oral health issues like cavities and gum disease can be missed. This is problematic since the teeth and gums should always be in good condition before any type of tooth movement is attempted.
Working directly with an orthodontist helps to eliminate these risks because your treatment plan is built around your specific smile needs, including any necessary dental work.
Customized treatment plans
You won’t catch an orthodontist like Dr. Westfall using a “one size fits all” approach to treatment! Instead, he creates a personalized treatment plan for each patient based on their needs, lifestyle, and goals. That means recommending only the treatment that will be able to deliver the best results.
While clear aligners can be a great option for many patients, they aren’t a good fit for everyone. For example, patients who have especially complex or severe issues to correct may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide. For these cases, traditional braces may be a better method of treatment.
Unfortunately, DTC aligner companies don’t have access to patients for in-person examinations and conversations. This can be really detrimental to their ability to determine if someone is a good fit for their aligners or not.
Treatment that’s supervised by an expert
Regular follow-up visits are an essential part of any orthodontic journey. Depending on the specific treatment plan, these appointments will be scheduled for every 4-8 weeks and allow the orthodontist to ensure the teeth are moving safely and things are proceeding according to plan.
DTC aligner companies aren’t able to provide any truly meaningful supervision, which leaves patients more or less on their own. This can result in a range of unforeseen issues. For example, an aligner may fit poorly, causing irritation and pain. An improper aligner fit can also move the teeth too quickly or more slowly than expected. Cavities or gum disease can develop or worsen without the patient knowing, particularly if they don’t see a dentist regularly.
When you don’t have an orthodontist involved in your long-term orthodontic care, these types of issues may go unnoticed and therefore untreated. Over time, this can cause damage to the patient’s bite and may even impact their overall oral health.
Leave your smile to the experts at Westfall Orthodontics
There’s no getting around the fact that achieving a healthy smile will require an investment on your part. Even though direct-to-consumer aligners may seem like an inexpensive and easy way to straighten your smile from home, they can actually end up costing more in the long run when you consider all the potential risks involved. These companies just aren’t able to provide patients with the same level of skilled and supervised care that a trained specialist can!
Not only that, but our practice offers a wide variety of affordable treatment options, including Invisalign. We also offer flexible payment plans for every budget, so every patient has the chance to achieve the smile they deserve without breaking the bank.
Dr. Westfall is a top-rated orthodontist who’s been creating confident smiles for patients of all ages in the Abingdon, Bristol, and Richlands communities since 2013. If you’re ready to learn more about how Westfall Orthodontics can safely and effectively transform your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation.