If you have always wanted a straight smile but hate the idea of wearing traditional braces then chances are clear aligners like Invisalign have probably caught your attention. Lately new products have entered this market which claim to straighten your teeth at home quicker than other products and for a much cheaper price tag than undergoing Invisalign treatment with your dentist. Sounds like the perfect solution, right? But do these at-home DIY teeth straightening systems really work and live up to their promotional claims?
What Is Invisalign?
Firstly, let’s explain what the Invisalign system is. It’s a technologically-advanced process using clear, removable aligners which move your teeth incrementally, gradually straightening your smile without the need for any brackets or wires. Cutting-edge 3D computer imaging creates a customised treatment plan that plots your current teeth position through to your final desired smile. The 3D imaging is used to create a series of custom-made clear orthodontic aligners which are worn for about two weeks each, until your final teeth position is achieved.
Invisalign can only be provided by an Invisalign-trained dentist for several reasons. The system isn’t right for everyone and only a trained dentist can determine if it will work for you and achieve your desired results. Your suitability will depend on the current position of your teeth, your bite, how complicated your alignment issues are, and your age and ability to commit to wearing your aligners for 22 hours every day.
Invisalign is used worldwide with current figures sitting at over eight million successfully-treated patients.
What Are DIY Clear Aligners?
DIY clear aligners are a very similar system to Invisalign with the same methodology of using a series of clear aligners to gradually align your teeth. They are marketed promising major cost savings compared to braces and the possibility of achieving results in much shorter times – even as little as four to six months. However, like most things that sound too good to be true, it’s worth doing your research. Cutting costs and time means cutting corners, and when it comes to your only set of adult teeth that’s a huge risk to take. There’s a lot that can (and does) go wrong with both the science of the treatment and the level of care you may receive.
- The first step of creating your DIY aligner treatment plan can actually be done at home using a kit to create your own impressions. This sounds incredibly convenient, but because you are not trained in taking dental impressions it runs the risk that your custom treatment plan is not 100% correct right from the outset.
- It’s important to know that DIY teeth straightening only straightens 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. Orthodontists and Invisalign-qualified dentists are trained to assess and correct your bite as well as align your teeth – the two go hand-in-hand. Without proper supervision from a qualified dentist, DIY clear aligners can lead to top and bottom teeth that do not touch. Open bites, crossbites and jaw muscle pain are all possible issues when your bite is not treated in conjunction with teeth alignment.
- When you are undergoing Invisalign treatment, you are seen and reviewed by your dentist every couple of months. These appointments ensure that your aligners fit correctly and that your treatment is progressing to plan. You have the reassurance of a trained professional assessing you regularly to make sure you are 100% on track. However, the system of DIY clear aligners generally provides virtual appointments rather than face-to-face contact with a trained professional. There have also been concerns raised regarding a lack of availability of virtual appointments, with regular monitoring (even virtually) falling through the cracks.
- Straightening your teeth in isolation is never a good idea. 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.
- Here at Fraser Dental we have orthodontic patients who have previously used DIY teeth straightening only to end up with more problems than they started with. After wasting money and time, they then undergo orthodontic treatment with us to properly and safely correct these problems. Orthodontics is an extremely technical field that requires years of training, and tackling this at home with minimal supervision is definitely not recommended.
Don’t risk damaging your only set of adult teeth. When it comes to dentistry and orthodontics always see a qualified professional.