In recent years, there’s been a huge rise in the uptake of orthodontics and other cosmetic dentistry treatments. Partly fuelled by the selfie generation and the ‘Zoom Boom’, people seem to be more engaged than ever with the quest to straighten and perfect their teeth.
Clear aligners play a significant part in the growing trend, with research showing it’s only set to move upwards. One study forecasts a 30.08% market growth rate between 2023 and 2030 for clear aligners alone and direct-to-consumer clear aligners is a notable part of this picture.
What are direct-to-consumer clear aligners?
When we talk about direct-to-consumer or online clear aligners, we mean the ones you can buy over the internet, without the help of a dentist. These options are increasingly popular with people and given they can be up to 60% cheaper than prescribed alternatives through a dentist or orthodontist, you can see why it’s an attractive option at face value.
However, these cost savings are possible because of the minimal level of care you receive. Generally, the online clear aligner process involves consumers taking an impression of their teeth at home, sending that off, then receiving clear aligners through the post, and going through the treatment without any dentist intervention.
The risks of at-home teeth straightening
If you straighten your teeth at home, without a dentist’s help, you won’t be able to spot any potential oral health risks before or during treatment. This has spurred dentists to speak out about the dangers of these online kits, with many seeing the issues they can cause first-hand. These include:
- Aggravated underlying conditions such as gum disease, dental decay and abscesses resulting in severe pain.
- Tooth loss due to underlying and undetected oral health issues, or due to the unsupervised plans which can move teeth too quickly.
- Bite issues, causing long-term TMJ pain and migraines.
- Little to no tooth movement, resulting in patients having to seek expert help at a later date to achieve the desired results.
The safe alternative
Naturally it costs more to receive treatment from a qualified dentist or orthodontist, but from a health perspective, it’s a no-brainer. Compare the care you’ll receive from a qualified dentist, and you can see the difference. Here’s how it tends to look when you visit your dentist:
- They start with a full physical examination of your mouth, including dental X-rays. This will reveal bone support and root anatomy, which is crucial to determine whether you can undergo treatment without risk of tooth loss or other problems. Note, this assessment is only available when you speak to a qualified professional with orthodontic treatment in mind.
- You will receive advice on the different, safe treatment options available to you.
- Throughout the treatment, you will have the full support of a dentist or orthodontist, who will monitor tooth movement to ensure the best aesthetic and the safest outcome.
- They can also tailor your treatment, including performing steps like interproximal reduction if required to create space for optimal tooth movement.
Put your oral health first
It can be tempting to choose the cheaper route for anything, especially as budgets continue to be squeezed. But there’s a reason why dentists are speaking out about the dangers of online clear aligners. Many have seen the pain and damage caused when patients have chosen to straighten their teeth at home.
It’s essential to note that online aligners can cause lasting problems, not only impacting the quality of life but resulting in costly corrections from a qualified dentist. Our teeth are not only important for smiling and feeling confident, they also define our face shape, speech and chewing ability. All these factors will be taken into consideration by a dentist, but not through online treatment.
Ultimately, the risk to our oral health through cheap, online options like this is never worth it. Your teeth and gums are integral to your overall health and happiness, and just like any other medical treatment, you deserve to be in the hands of a trusted, qualified professional.