Yes, it is 2019 and if you open your social media of choice, you will see plenty of catchy ads with colorful marketing of clear aligner systems. As a dentist in the West Village, my personal facebook account and Instagram are bombarded with ads for a variety of do-it-yourself clear aligner systems. These ads make their clear aligner systems appear safe, effective, and equal to a doctor-prescribed system like Invisalign and better than traditional braces. This will not be a blog post about the politics of clear aligners, we have no interest in bad mouthing startups Smile Direct Club or competitors. Rather, Keith Bracy, DDS wants to point out somethings you should know before choosing a clear aligner system.
Should it really be called do-it-yourself orthodontics?
Some terms for non-traditional clear aligner systems include “do-it-yourself” orthodontics, “mail order clear aligners”. Others call it a “teledentistry model of orthodontics”. Call it what you’d like! These systems generally involve a consumer going to a well branded store front for a digital scan of your teeth and photos of teeth to generate clear aligner treatment. The paperwork might involve certifying that you have seen a general dentist for your oral health and that you are in good standing in terms of routine x-rays, cavities and gum disease. A dentist or orthodontist at some unknown remote location approves your treatment with the clear aligners, and then you do your own course of treatment at home. If you have issues, you can go back to the store front or email/call for trouble shooting. Usually fees are relatively low compared to average traditional private practice fees.
Sounds great? Doesn’t it? Well here are some differences you can experience with choosing Invisalign at Keith Bracy, DDS vs the non-traditional model.
- You’ll be examined in person by Keith Bracy, DDS and learn about your dental health and orthodontic diagnosis. Using clear aligners over teeth with gum disease or dental cavities can lead to terrible results including loss of teeth an exacerbating your dental condition. Contrary to popular belief, most dental conditions like gum disease are silent and you do not know you have them without an in person examination by a dentist. If you are asked to certify your dental condition, please see your local dentist and learn about the state of your oral health. Contrary to popular belief, preventive dental care is not out-of-reach or overly expensive. Most dental practices like Keith Bracy, DDS offer new patient specials for exams, cleanings and x-rays or easy payment plans. Also, seeking care from a dental school like NYU dental school clinic or one of the many NYC community health centers like the dental clinic at Callen Lorde is another great, low cost option.
- Also, it is very important to know your orthodontic diagnosis before starting clear aligners. Sure, we know you want beautiful, straight teeth, but if you do not know what your specific orthodontic condition is, then you do not know if clear aligners are the best treatment. Clear aligners are not the clear treatment for every type of orthodontic problem. For example, certain types of cross bites, under or over bites are better treated with an Orthodontist using traditional braces and orthodontic appliances. Other malocclusions and bad bites require the skills of an oral surgeon to correct or may be better treated with other means such as crowns or veneers. Any consult for clear aligners with a well-trained professional should inform you of your diagnosis and alternate treatment options for the best outcome.
- You will know if the clear aligner treatment will correct your malocclusion and help your bite vs. “straighten your smile”. Can you believe that some clear aligner systems make you sign paperwork stating that there is no claim your bite will be helped and that having a functional bite at the end of treatment is not guaranteed? Yes! You do not have to go any further than a quick google search for yelp reviews and better business complaints showing patients who can’t bite properly after non-traditional clear aligner therapy and are pointed to this clause in the paperwork.
- You will have frequent visits to monitor your progress. At Keith Bracy, DDS our Invisalign patients return every 4-6 weeks to monitor progress. At these visits, we ensure the teeth are moving as expected, check your overall oral health, offer coaching and hints to using your clear aligners, and check several other treatment progress indicators such as spacing between the teeth, analysis of bite changes, etc. Trust us, when we say it is better to find out about an issue with orthodontic therapy when it is small and can be easily corrected than to go through months of treatment to find out there is an issue. With non-traditional models, there is usually no established regular monitoring visits. Usually it is up to the consumer to detect a problem and report it or the monitoring interval is very spaced out such as only 1 check in half way through treatment.
- You’ll have a in person dentist accountable for your outcomes! You can always reach Keith Bracy, DDS personally by email, phone, or in person by walking into our beautiful dental office on West 12th Street. With a non-traditional model, you may never interact personally with a dentist and not know who is responsible for your care. There may be a licensed dentist who looked over the scan of your teeth and approved your treatment, but do you get to teleconference with that dentist or seek advice from them personally? Some of our patients who have done these clear aligner systems report that they can only call a customer service rep or email with a dental assistant if they have a problem. They never know the skills or the credentials of any dentist overseeing their care.
- Invisalign definitively offers more advanced treatment modalities with their clear aligner system vs many other systems. The ability of the Invisalign treating-dentist to apply attachments to your teeth and make space between your teeth sets this system apart. Invisalign used small, tooth-colored attachments on your teeth to influence tooth movement and make it more efficient. Also, Invisliagn can lead to better outcomes in terms of tooth position since the treatment dentist has tools to make space for the proper movement and alignment of teeth.
- Invisalign is not as expensive as you might think. At Keith Bracy, DDS we offer Invisalign specials and payment plans. We do not charge a consult fee.
Come visit us in our caring dental office on West 12th street. We are located at 100 West 12th Street. Appointments can also be made online on our website.