I’ve been looking for more and more ways to do things from home because of the COVID-19 situation. I’d been considering Invisalign for years, but given the epidemic, I don’t feel like I should leave the house unless absolutely necessary. I’d been saving up for Invisalign and recently just came upon an advertisement for a mail-order equivalent called Smile Direct Club. Is this truly an equivalent? Is there a reason I should see a dentist for Invisalign instead?
Dear Katy Lee,
I’m glad you wrote before making a decision. I have looked into this company and procedure because it is important to keep informed of all options in the dental field. I will admit to having some concerns.
The Importance of Good Diagnostics
One big concern I have is they skip an initial examination. Both dentists and orthodontists would make certain they did a full workup on patients, including numerous x-rays. Skipping that step is dangerous and could put patients at risk.
A second issue that can be catastrophic is the impression. With these DIY orthodontic treatments, the patients often have to do this impression on their own. It is imperative this is done properly with no bubbles, tears, or other types of defects otherwise the results could be off on your treatment plan. That is a lot to ask of a patient who has no training in this sort of diagnostic.
With Invisalign, you are going to get all of this. With Smile Direct and other mail order services, you are not.
Another issue is when you have overcrowding, which is in the majority of people seeking orthodontic treatment. Often, some back teeth have to be removed in order to calibrate the bite properly. When you don’t need a ton of space, sometimes just some mild shaving of the sides of some teeth is adequate.
These other systems don’t have a way of doing that. Instead, they just widen the bite. This can actually cause more problems than it solves, including creating an open bite, which can be expensive to repair. There was a great article in the New York Times about Smile Direct Club which pointed out some questionable issues going on with patients who didn’t get the results they expected and how Smile Direct Club Responded.
No Follow-Up Care
When you have a human body, rarely does it just do as it is told or work perfectly according to a predetermined plan. Sometimes you have teeth that won’t rotate. Some dentist intervention is needed at that point. Usually, as with Invisalign, a dentist can attach a small composite button on the tooth which the Invisalign aligners will grab and help the tooth to turn properly.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. Do some research and I am sure you will do what you think is best.
A Fun Bonus with Invisalign
One thing you can do with Invisalign is to ask your dentist to provide you with some professional teeth whitening gel. Using your Invisalign aligners as a teeth whitening tray enables you to whiten and straighten your teeth at the same time, giving you the equivalent of a mini smile makeover.
This blog is brought to you by Midtown Manhattan Dentist Dr. Marianna Farber.