4 January 2023

Delving into the world of DIY Consumer Dentistry and the many pitfalls of not having a dentist present during treatment, Dr Anshu Sood is this podcast’s part 2 guest orthodontist.

Dr Sood explained: “We need to distinguish between the delivery of care which health professionals do and the delivery of aligners which companies do.

“The analogy I always use is if I gave you Rodger Fedora’s tennis racket does not mean you will win Wimbledon. As healthcare professionals, we understand teeth and how they move. What is safe and what is not safe, rather than just being a company that sells plastic.”

Orthodontics is an incredibly hard area of dentistry to replicate without the knowledge and training to help protect the teeth, jawbone, and gums in the mouth while the work is going on. Something which no scan can replicate. Many direct-to-consumer DIY orthodontic companies do a basic 3D scan of your mouth before sending out aligners, often without any dental professional oversight.

Dr Sood said: “Scans are just one of many things you would have done if you went to see a clinician.

“They would see how your teeth bite together and how the teeth fit in the gums, the bone, and the facial profile as well as x-rays. If your mouth is unhealthy at the beginning of the treatment, they definitely won’t be healthier at the end without intervention.”

Part of this podcast delves into a case study of Jessica whose name has been changed to protect her identity, she suffered from teeth sensitivity and gum problems. It even affected her mental health.

Dr Sood said: “The worry with something like that is it irreversible. There’s no way to make that gum grow back over the teeth. You are left with feelings of sensitivity, and it can really affect your quality of life.”

Anshu also touches upon the ways that follow-up care is also needed, and many companies are just not able to provide it, often telling consumers to go to dentists.

Dr Sood said: “Orthodontic treatment is so much more than just making your teeth straight. If you go to the gym and you get fit, you don’t just stay fit because you did it once.

“There has to be maintenance and that it basically what retainers are. You’ve put all that hard work in, all that energy and you’ve paid all that money and you’ve got a beautiful smile. You need to maintain it with retainers and that has to be part of your overall treatment plan for you to stabilise and keep the result you were promised  at the beginning of that treatment.”

Many people including Jessica along with her problems developed by the treatment have had to pay for retainers, an unexpected cost that she was trying to avoid.

Dr Sood said: “It is those hidden costs as well because you didn’t know that you had to pay for those retainers.”

 Retainers also need to be replaced every 12-24 months or sooner if they become worn.

Dr Snood said: “So suddenly a treatment package which seems like it is x amount is actually x plus y plus some more. Who knows? The lack of transparency around fees is something that should be changed.”

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