Since the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a large increase in the number of people wanting to straighten their teeth to help create that perfect smile. There are several contributing factors for this:
- More disposable Income – Many of us have spent less money in pubs, bars, restaurants and on holidays, and have managed to save money during the pandemic
- Being at home makes it easier to commit to teeth straightening procedures requiring you to wear braces or aligners for most of the day
- Remote working: Less in person contact means it is less obvious (and in some cases, almost invisible – see Invisalign) to see that someone is having teeth straightening treatment
With this rise in demand for teeth straightening and teeth alignment, combined with the wordwide lockdowns, we have seen an increase in the number of online/internet companies offering DIY (do it yourself) teeth straightening kits for use at home (now known as “remote orthodontics”) – most without sufficient care and attention from a qualified dental professional (in the UK, that would mean someone who is registered and regulated by the General Dental Council). Whilst the cost charged by these internet companies is slightly less than you pay at a qualified dentist with physical premises, the risks associated with DIY straightening kits are significant.
In this post we highlight some of the dangers associated with using these online DIY teeth straightening kits at home without the necessary Dentist consultation (as opposed to those provided with physical consultation from a qualified Dentist).
DIY Teeth Straightening vs Teeth Straightening by a Qualified Dentist
Typically, with teeth straightening solutions which use aligners, a qualified Dentist will take impressions/moulds of your teeth and ensure that your teeth are healthy and suitable for the treatment. For example – A Dentist would want to ensure that you have do not have gum disease, a decaying tooth, or other dental treatment required prior to starting teeth straightening treatment. The effects of not performing these checks could be catastrophic – yet they are not performed by internet companies offering DIY teeth straightening.
Online companies offering DIY Teeth Straightening Kits for use at home without consultation instead skip these checks, and expect the patient to create their own impressions/moulds, and then receive the teeth straightening trays by post – all without ever seeing a qualified dentist or undergoing the necessary oral health checks. With the help of misleading marketing and confusion, some of these companies may make it seem like they are assessing teeth health with photos of your smile, but it is not possible to assess the health of your teeth using just a photograph – photos are typically used to determine if the teeth straightening treatment will help re-align the teeth, not to assess the health of the teeth.
As well as the obvious oral health concerns with this approach, it also means that the responsibility of creating the mould impressions is with the patient, rather than a qualified Dentist – so if the teeth straightening trays do not correctly fit, or straighten teeth well, the responsibility lies with the patient, rather than the company they were purchased from. This is important to note, as creating these impressions can sometimes be tricky even for qualified Dentists who have done it hundreds or thousands of times.
Further still, many of these online, DIY solutions do not offer any follow up with a qualified professional during the months (and in severe cases, years) of teeth straightening treatment – so your options for support or guidance is limited – this can be frightening when it comes to your healthcare, but more so when things go wrong, and you can’t get in touch with a qualified professional to assist.
By carrying out treatment at a credible dental practice and a qualified dental professional – you will always be in safe hands. You can see an actual human (a Dentist who has spent years of their life training) and ask them about any concerns or questions before starting treatment and throughout the treatment – there will always be qualified Dentist on hand to discuss your treatment with.
Some patients of these online teeth straightening companies have identified issues with the teeth straightening treatment not working, bad, or non-contactable customer service, and even patient history being deleted or not accessible after treatment goes wrong.
In the US, NBC News reported about some of the problems witnessed by customers of Smile Direct Club. In the UK, the Daily Mail reported about further issues. Similar issues are being investigated with DIY or “at home” teeth whitening kits from SmileDirectClub in the UK by the British Dental Association (BDA) and the General Dental Council (GDC).
Invisalign Teeth Straightening with Thames Street Dental
At Thames Street Dental, we provide teeth straightening known as Invisalign. Invisalign, as the name suggests, uses Invisible Aligners (rather than traditional metal braces) to perform teeth straightening. Invisalign is one of the market leaders in the teeth straightening market and was established by Align Technology in 1997.
With Thames Street Dental, the first step to getting straighter teeth is to have an initial consultation (Book your FREE Consultation) – either in person, or using video calling technology. During this initial consultation, our Invisalign Specialist Dentist will help you determine, in principle, if Invisalign is the right treatment for your teeth straightening or alignment needs, and help you obtain all the information you require about Invisalign.
Once a patient has decided to go ahead with Invisalign, they will then be invited to the Thames Street Dental practice in Kingston-upon-Thames town centre to assess your suitability for Invisalign – During this appointment, we will:
- Conduct a clinical examination of your gums, teeth and soft tissues
- Advise you on any factors which may affect your success with teeth straightening, and provide options to help treat those factors prior to starting your teeth straightening
- Take photos of your mouth and teeth
- Take accurate impressions of your teeth
Soon after your consultation and once you are happy, you will come back to receive your first sets of aligners and begin your teeth straightening treatment. We will ensure they fit correctly and provide you with the necessary information to have a successful tooth whitening journey.
Whilst we are happy to provide support and advice in person, over the phone or video as necessary, we would typically invite you back in the to practice every 4-8 weeks to assess progress and adjust your treatment plan as necessary, design the next sets of aligners, and it also gives us additional points during which potential problems with your specific treatment can be identified.
If you are considering teeth straightening, please do consider the points raised in this blog post, and ask yourself – do you want to take such risks with your healthcare?
Even if it is not Thames Street Dental, we do advise seeing a qualified Dentist in person for your teeth straightening or teeth alignment. We all know there are cheaper options available, but as the saying goes – “You get what you pay for”.
If you are interested in straightening your teeth, and would like to consider Invisalign, please contact us to book in for a FREE consultation with our Invisalign specalist.