As you scroll through your social media feed and watch TV commercials, you’ve probably noticed that new, cheaper alternatives to Invisalign® clear aligners have popped up and are now being heavily marketed. Several aligner startups now sell aligners directly online. If you’re considering improving the alignment of your teeth, you might even be tempted to order aligners online. Here are some things you should know about aligner istartups.
There’s a reason that, traditionally, patients need to schedule appointments with their dentist or orthodontist to get braces or Invisalign® aligners. Your dentist will carefully evaluate whether you’re a good candidate for aligners, and may decide to recommend a different solution to you if he or she feels that the condition of your mouth, your age, or other lifestyle factors wouldn’t be a good fit for Invisalign®.
Even if you are an excellent candidate for aligners, that’s only the beginning of the story. Your dentist or orthodontist will carefully evaluate your bite, your unique oral anatomy, and other factors to custom-design your treatment plan.
With an online aligner startup, the only product that the company sells is the aligner trays. They cannot offer you an alternative approach and could be more inclined to sell you a product that you may not need. It is in their best interest to sell you their product. Although some aligner startups use images or tooth molds that you send back to them for evaluation, this is not as thorough an evaluation as you would have by a dentist.
Orthodontists and dentists that work with Invisalign® have to undergo specialized training to use the technology with their patients. This means that any provider who is authorized to work with Invisalign® has expertise and has successfully completed a number of cases. In fact, Invisalign® has designations of Preferred, Premier, and Elite to recognize dental professionals that treat a certain number of cases per year and who have completed a significant number of Invisalign® treatments in their career.
In many ways, going with an aligner startup is like becoming your own dentist. Without an in-person evaluation and monitoring, it’s possible that you won’t end up with the best results possible because there isn’t a dentist available to answer questions or change the course of treatment, even slightly. Some aligner startups ask for photos of your teeth as a way to monitor progress. While photos can help monitor progress between appointments, treatment utilizing only photos could miss something.
In some states, aligner startups have been sued, in some cases by state dental boards, for operating illegally. Dental work requires a licensed professional to legally perform the procedures. Aligner startups bypass the licensed professional by sending dental appliances directly to consumers. In many states, the litigation process is still ongoing, but several aligner startups received cease and desist letters as a result.
When it comes to your dental care, it’s important to only work with experts licensed to provide the care you need. You don’t want to end up damaging your teeth or wasting money in a procedure that’s less than trustworthy. If you are ready for an orthodontics evaluation from a caring and trusted professional with Invisalign® expertise, contact Jennifer Stachel Orthodontics today at (212) 877-7177.