Straightening your teeth from the comfort and convenience of home may sound appealing, but how does it compare to treatment with a specialist orthodontist? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and potential pitfalls of mail-order aligners.

What are mail-order aligners?

Clear aligners are a popular way to straighten teeth. They’re effective, removable and almost invisible. They work by applying pressure to specific teeth to gently straighten your smile.

Invisalign (pictured below) is a well-known clear aligner system that’s offered exclusively by specialist orthodontists and dentists. Worldwide it’s transformed more than 14 million smiles.

More recently, we’ve seen the introduction of mail-order aligners. Like Invisalign, they use a series of clear, removable aligners to straighten your teeth.

However, instead of seeing a specialist orthodontist for regular appointments, every step of your treatment will be coordinated online.

To get started, you’ll need to take some moulds of your teeth using a home impression kit. A clinician – usually a dentist – will assess your teeth and send you a treatment plan to approve.

If you are happy with your projected result, your custom-made aligners will be delivered to your door. During your treatment, you’ll have virtual check-ins with your dentist.

The disadvantages of mail-order aligners

Mail-order aligners are undoubtedly convenient, and because your treatment is provided remotely, they usually cost less than braces with a specialist.

Unfortunately, the benefits end here. When you compare the standard of care and quality of mail-order aligners with Invisalign, there’s no competition.

  • Online orthodontic treatment doesn’t include a consultation with a specialist orthodontist. So, you won’t have the opportunity to put all your questions to an expert and learn more about all your treatment options, including fixed braces. Most importantly, you’ll miss out on a comprehensive examination, including photos and X-rays, to make sure your teeth are healthy and suitable for braces.
  • Taking your own impressions isn’t easy, and if they’re not accurate, your aligners won’t fit correctly. We take impressions using our digital iTero scanner. It’s extremely precise, quick and convenient compared to home impression kits.
  • Aligners can struggle to move teeth in specific directions, so we sometimes attach small tooth-coloured buttons to your teeth to give your aligners extra grip. This isn’t usually possible with mail-order aligners, which are best suited to very straightforward cases.
  • Interproximal reduction (IPR) is another fantastic technique that can’t be provided online. IPR subtly reduces the width of your teeth, giving us space to align your teeth perfectly. It can also improve your final smile and avoid black triangles between your teeth and gums.
  • Tooth movement isn’t 100% predictable, which is one of the reasons why face-to-face appointments are so important. Throughout your treatment, we’ll monitor your progress and adjust your teeth or aligners as needed to achieve the best outcome. If all your check-ups are virtual, you’ll miss out on this invaluable attention to detail.
  • Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but if you do have any problems or concerns, we’ll arrange an appointment at the practice as quickly as possible. If you order your aligners online, you may not have someone to visit in an emergency, and you might have to rely on telephone or video support.
  • Mail-order aligners can achieve good results in the right circumstances, but specialist treatment will guarantee an incredible smile every time. Towards the end of your treatment, we’ll review your results and arrange additional refinement aligners to perfect the position of your teeth.
  • Retention is an essential part of orthodontic treatment. Teeth tend to move after braces, so retainers are a lifelong commitment. Mail-order braces occasionally include removable retainers, or you can pay extra for them. Our prices include one year of aftercare and removable teeth retainers.

If you are considering straightening your teeth at home, we recommend visiting a specialist so you can weigh up your options. Your treatment may cost slightly more, but you’ll enjoy the highest quality care and a beautiful smile for life.

To arrange a consultation with specialist orthodontist Dr. Jackie Bracken, contact us today.