• Are At Home Teeth Aligners Safe?

    We’ve all seen them advertised on our social media newsfeeds:

    • the latest herbal tea to rid your body of toxins you never knew you had;
    • pills or powders that will make your hair and/or skin glow like a Kardashian;
    • milkshakes that will have you looking like a fitness supermodel within weeks (no exercise necessary, of course); or
    • miracle creams that will solve all of your skin problems in one night and have you ageing in reverse like Benjamin Button.

    They’re often advertised by the latest reality TV stars – their beaming smiles popping up on your news feed; their spiel always starting with “Hi guys! A lot of you have been asking me about my health care routine lately…” followed by a short tutorial and excessive praise for the product they’ve been paid more than your annual salary to endorse and claim has had life-changing effects on them.

    Admit it, you’ve been tempted by it before.

    But, hey, we all have at some point!

    The latest fad to grace our social media feed, however, has us tutting and shaking our heads in dismay here at DCP, and DIY dental aligners be thy name.

    In case you’ve somehow missed it, at home dental aligners are commonly being used as an inexpensive and quick-fix solution for teeth-straightening and, damn, do they make it look so easy and effective.

    For as little as $2000 (although some brands on eBay go for as little as $100! Eeeek!) you can purchase a DIY kit online, take your teeth impressions from the comfort of your own home, then send them off to a ‘team of professionals who will use world class technology’ to assess your teeth and send back some custom teeth aligners.

    No face-to-face consultation required.

    No examination. No x-rays.

    It all sounds rather alluring, but is it all too good to be true?

    Well, the Australian Society of Orthodontists, as well as the vast majority of dental care professionals in Australia have confirmed what our subconscious has been yelling at us this whole time –

    YES! It’s too good to be true!

    Here are three reasons why we don’t recommend it:

    1. No face to face consultation or x-rays means no physical assessment of the current condition of your teeth.

    Sure, you’re showing the current positioning of your teeth via your impressions, but the current condition of them is absolutely vital for long term results.

    Decaying teeth, cracked or chipped teeth, infections, periodontal disease, bone loss, and impacted teeth can all be exacerbated significantly if a patient uses these at home aligners without being assessed and treated first.

    There is also a possibility that there may not be enough room in your jaw for all of your teeth in the first place.

    Long term issues from the above factors can include mobile or broken teeth, jaw problems, loss of teeth, incorrect bite, or infections.

    You may even find that the cost of repairing issues that arise from using the DIY aligners will far outweigh the savings you made by not going to a dental professional in the first place.

    2. Aligners may be poorly fitted and/or difficult to have adjusted.

    Upon receiving and commencing use of your new DIY aligners (created from the moulds you provided), you would no doubt expect them to feel a bit ‘snug’ or feel a bit of discomfort.

    The lack of ongoing consultation with a local dental professional, however, could mean that you may be experiencing more discomfort than is necessary, and could potentially be doing damage to your teeth and gums.

    This is because taking accurate dental moulds is more difficult than it may seem.

    Despite using the most effective moulding techniques here at DCP, we still organise a brief appointment with our patients to fit and adjust the final lab work such as dentures, mouth guards and night guards, etc as they may still need a slight ‘tweak’ for the patient to feel entirely comfortable.

    The concept of sending the lab work straight to the patient without them trying it in first is concerning, incredibly risky, and sounds a bit like the Wild West.

    Trying to organise an adjustment for your retainers, regardless of whether it’s a minor or significant change, may also be a bit of a nightmare given your correspondence with the company will be via phone or mail only. No quick tweaks here!

    3. Lack of ongoing monitoring by a dental professional throughout the alignment process could cause long-term damage.

    Without ongoing consultation from a professional, the possibility of doing some long term and costly damage to your teeth increases significantly.

    Ongoing x-rays and check-ups are absolutely necessary to ensure the teeth are moving correctly, safely and aren’t causing any issues to the surrounding bone.

    Your dental practitioner can also offer advice, answer questions you may have, and assist with any discomfort you may be feeling throughout the alignment process.

    Because this service is not available through the online DIY aligner companies, there is no way of telling if you’ve done irreversible damage to your teeth until it’s too late.

    Unfortunately, like every other fad on social media, we think you should scroll straight past and throw this one in the ‘too good to be true’ basket.

    Always seek the advice of your local Dentist or Orthodontist first (consultations are usually free anyway!), and ask what your options are.

    With dental technology and orthodontic treatments advancing at a rapid pace, we will be able to offer a range of solutions specifically tailored to your teeth.

    You may also be quite surprised to find that the cost of our treatments is not as bad as you think and, for the peace of mind that comes with it, is worth it in the long run.

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