Safesmiles

DIY orthodontics is often marketed as a cheap, fast, and effective way to straighten your teeth.  All of this sounds appealing, but it could present a very real risk to your health.

DIY orthodontics is often aligners which you buy online without visiting a dental practice.  It involves an online form and payments for a ‘do-it-yourself’ kit which will have you make an impression (mould) of your teeth at home.  You might also be asked to go to a shop to have your teeth scanned digitally.

The impressions or scans of your teeth are then used to make a set of aligners. These are then sent to you in the post, along with a treatment plan.  

Worryingly, this generally happens without seeing either a dentist or orthodontist.    

The risks of DIY aligners

As with most shortcuts, there is a long list of risks associated with DIY orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic treatment is not simple.  Dental professionals go through extensive training and continuous supervision and checks to make sure treatment is done safely and effectively.

There are five key reasons why orthodontics should always be carried out face-to-face by a dental professional, in a dental practice.

A dental examination

Home impression kits and scanning machines in shops look at your teeth and their current position, but they don’t assess the health of your mouth.

Undergoing treatment without seeing a professional first can lead to underlying conditions going unnoticed.

A full dental examination gives you a clean bill of health and reassures you that the treatment can proceed safely and will be right for your needs. If anything is spotted during the examination, you will be treated before your orthodontic treatment begins.

X-rays

Even if you go to a scanning shop, you might think that your teeth are being adequately checked. You are not alone in thinking this. However, no scanner is able to take x-rays.

X-rays are vital for planning safe movement of teeth because they look at the bone health and the length of your roots. If you have bad bone loss and this goes undetected, moving the teeth could cause them to fall out as there will not be enough bone holding them in place. All brace work causes minor changes to the roots of the teeth.

If you have short roots, you may be advised not to have treatment at all or will need close monitoring during treatment.

A dental practice or hospital is the only way to have a thorough oral assessment and x-ray before orthodontic treatment.

A custom plan for you

A set of aligners which has been crafted and fitted by a dental professional has been done with a very careful and individual care plan – the kind which you cannot replicate by answering a few questions online.

Tooth relapse

Some DIY orthodontic companies don’t send you any retainers once the course of treatment ends.

If too much shifting through DIY braces happens, then teeth may very well move back later – retainers and retention are a vital part of the success of orthodontic treatment.

By having treatment with a dentist or orthodontist you can make sure all that time and money doesn’t go to waste.

Development of new problems

During orthodontic treatment, you are at greater risk of a number of oral conditions.

Tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, inflamed gums and jaw ache are some of the most common issues.  If any these happen, it is important that you have somebody to turn to.

Having orthodontic treatment at a dental practice puts you in the safest place when your health might be at risk.

Undergoing orthodontics at home leaves you isolated and away from the help and support you need during treatment.

Less money does not equal value

Quick solutions can lead to expensive problems.

If you find orthodontic treatment for a low price, it might be worth getting a second opinion. Do your research and always get the advice of a trained dental professional.

For more advice about orthodontic treatment, contact the Oral Health Foundation’s Dental Helpline.


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