If you are interested in straightening your teeth but don’t like the idea of wearing braces then chances are clear aligners such as Invisalign are on your radar. You’ve probably also noticed that there are clear aligner products on the market that claim to straighten your teeth at home faster and cheaper than undergoing Invisalign treatment at your dentist. But do these “DIY clear aligners” really work and live up to their marketing claims?
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a sophisticated system of clear, removable aligners that move your teeth incrementally to straighten your smile without brackets or wires. Advanced 3D computer imaging creates a full treatment plan plotting your current teeth position through to your final desired smile. The imaging is then used to create a series of custom-made clear orthodontic aligners which are worn for around two weeks each, until your final teeth position is achieved.
Invisalign treatment is provided under the guidance of an Invisalign-trained dentist. They will assess if Invisalign is right for you, i.e. that it can achieve your desired results. It’s important to know that it is not necessarily an option for everyone – it depends on your current teeth position, bite and the complexity of your alignment issues as well as your age and ability to commit to wearing aligners for 22 hours per day. The system has been successfully used worldwide on more than eight million people.
What Are DIY Clear Aligners?
On the surface, the system is similar because a treatment plan of clear aligners is created for you to gradually align your teeth. There are promises of substantial cost savings compared to the cost of braces, as well as the possibility that you could have your new smile in as little as four to six months. It all sounds perfect, right – what could possibly go wrong? Actually a lot can go wrong, not just with the science of the treatment but in the level of care you could receive:
- With DIY clear aligners, the first step of designing your treatment plan can be done at home using a kit to create your own impressions. While it sounds convenient, because you are not trained in making dental impressions it carries the risk that your custom treatment plan is not 100% correct right from the outset.
- DIY clear aligners only straighten your teeth, not your bite. With any orthodontic treatment, it is essential not just to align your teeth but to also achieve a bite that allows you to chew and eat properly. Without proper supervision from a qualified dentist, using DIY clear aligners could result in top and bottom teeth that no longer touch. Open bites, crossbites and jaw muscle pain are all possible issues when your bite is not treated along with your teeth alignment.
- With Invisalign you are seen and reviewed by your dentist every couple of months to ensure your aligners fit well and your treatment is progressing to plan. In contrast, the DIY clear aligner programme only provides for virtual appointments so you will not have face-to-face contact with a trained professional. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding a lack of virtual appointments available, resulting in a general lack of monitoring and difficulty in raising questions or concerns as your treatment progresses.
- When it comes to your teeth, straightening them in isolation is a bad idea. This is because your teeth, gums, jaws, bone and facial structure are all connected and must be taken into account in orthodontic treatment. DIY clear aligners focus purely on the teeth alone, without even a single x-ray or oral health assessment to support the treatment plan.
- Unfortunately, we have treated patients who have used DIY aligners only to end up with more problems than they started with. They have undergone orthodontic treatment with us to properly and safely correct these problems. They have wasted time and money, and risked major damage to their only set of adult teeth. Orthodontics is an extremely technical field that requires years of training, and tackling this at home with minimal supervision is definitely not recommended.
Remember if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. When it comes to dentistry and orthodontics always see a qualified professional.
If you are wondering if Invisalign is right for you, contact us for a consultation. We can assess your smile and work through your options to suit your needs, lifestyle and budget.