Direct-to-consumer products have been around for a long time. From QVC and late-night infomercials to ads in the back of old magazines, consumers have had the chance to cut out the “middle man” for years. In today’s world, the advertising looks a little more modern, but the idea is the same—get a superior product delivered directly to your door for less money with no hassle.
Here at Shaw Orthodontics, we’ve learned that not even the world of orthodontics is exempt from this kind of marketing. We’ve recently seen an uptick in the number of direct-to-consumer companies marketing clear aligners to consumers looking for a straighter smile. The idea of correcting crooked teeth from home cheaply and effectively is obviously tempting to many, but there’s a reason why orthodontists and dentists won’t recommend them. Keep reading to learn more about why you should only trust your smile to experts like Dr. Shaw!
Comparing Invisalign clear aligners with DTC aligners
At Shaw Orthodontics, we offer the Invisalign clear aligner system, which has been the most popular alternative to traditional braces for some time now. These customized aligners are removable, allowing us to straighten teeth and improve oral health without any brackets, wires, or bands. Direct-to-consumer companies have based their own aligners on the innovative Invisalign design, so they look very similar. Don’t be fooled! While each system uses clear aligners to move the teeth into optimal positions, there are several key differences in the treatment process itself.
How our treatment process works
As a trained orthodontist, Dr. Shaw has spent many years learning how to identify and treat misalignments, crowded teeth, and many other oral issues. The first step in this process will usually be a comprehensive orthodontic evaluation. At Shaw Orthodontics, your free consultation will include digital photographs of your teeth and a discussion with Dr. Shaw about any specific areas of concern. You’ll also be presented with a customized treatment plan at this time.
If you decide to move forward with Invisalign treatment, we’ll begin by taking additional digital photos and x-rays to create a 3D image of your mouth. We’ll create your first set of aligners from these images, ensuring a custom fit that’s comfortable and effective. Throughout the treatment process, you’ll be scheduled for regular follow-up visits with Dr. Shaw. During these appointments, he’ll check that your teeth are moving in a healthy way and ensure everything is proceeding according to your treatment plan. After you’ve used your last aligner, we’ll provide you with a retainer to keep your beautiful new smile in place over the years. You’ll be supported by our entire team every step of the way.
How the treatment process differs with DTC aligners
When you choose aligners from a direct-to-consumer company, the treatment process is very different. The biggest issue is that there is no expert guidance involved. You won’t receive an exam or have any digital photographs or x-rays taken before deciding on a treatment plan. The company will ask you for some basic healthcare information and expect you to take your own tooth impressions and send them back in. Since most patients aren’t trained in taking orthodontic impressions, this isn’t an ideal set-up! In fact, it can easily lead to inaccurate or inexact molds that produce aligners that don’t fit as precisely as they should. This means the finished product may be uncomfortable and less effective.
Dental health can be a concern, as well. The teeth and gums should always be in good condition before attempting any type of tooth movement. When you have a patient providing their own images and impressions, cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems can be missed or worsen over time. Additionally, clear aligners are not recommended for everyone. For example, patients who have especially complex or severe cases may require more precise tooth control than aligners can provide and traditional braces may be a better option. Without the guidance of an expert orthodontist, you’re opening yourself up to a “one size fits all” approach to straightening smiles which may not give you the results you hope for.
Why expert guidance is essential for straightening your smile
Working with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Shaw gives you access to expert guidance, support, and supervision throughout your orthodontic journey. DTC aligner companies just aren’t able to provide any of this to patients, leaving you more or less on their own. This can open you up to a number of unforeseen issues.
An easy example of this is aligners that don’t fit well. The friction can cause irritation and pain, and may also affect how effective the treatment process is. Without an orthodontist involved, this can go untreated and may cause damage to your bite over time or impact your oral health. While direct-to-consumer aligners may seem like an inexpensive and easy way to straighten your smile from home, they can actually end up costing you more in the long run when you consider all the risks involved.
Don’t trust your smile to anything less than the experts at Shaw Orthodontics
We don’t do cookie-cutter treatments here at Shaw Orthodontics. Instead, you can expect a personalized treatment plan for you that’s based on your own unique needs, lifestyle, and goals. Dr. Shaw will only ever recommend the treatment method he feels will be best for your smile, whether that is Invisalign clear aligners or another option. You won’t find this level of skilled, supervised, and custom care with any direct-to-consumer companies!
DTC companies may claim their aligners are a cheaper way to straighten your smile, but many orthodontists offer comparable pricing. For instance, our practice has a wide range of affordable treatment options available. We also offer flexible in-house financing for every budget. We accept most insurance plans and will work with you to maximize your benefits. We’ll even file your claims for you once you start your treatment with Dr. Shaw!
When you choose Shaw Orthodontics, you’re putting your smile into the best hands around. To learn more about how our talented team can safely and effectively transform your smile, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Shaw!