At-Home Clear Aligners: Why They’re Such a Bad Idea

There are many services we can endorse as achievable DIY projects: changing the oil in your car, putting a new filter in your home AC unit, and putting down new sod in your yard. However, some things are best left to trained, experienced professionals: Installing a new roof, repairing an electrical issue, and straightening your teeth.

The reasons are similar, no matter what the service or product is. The advertised savings simply can’t stand up to the years of education, training, and experience of the professionals who safely perform the job.

The ads for at-home clear aligners (DIY orthodontic treatment) are appealing and the idea of saving hundreds of dollars to straighten teeth is hard to resist. They’re saying that so many happy, smiling people with beautiful, straight teeth use them, so it must be safe, right?

Let’s break down the facts on this topic. In this article, we outline why at-home teeth straightening programs are often too good to be true. We also weigh those reasons against the benefits of professional orthodontic treatment solutions.

The Dangers of DIY Teeth Straightening 

A DIY project is a way of perfecting skills, gaining experience, and saving money. Those are all worthwhile goals, but not on your teeth. Correcting crooked or crowded teeth is a complicated, long-term process and your teeth are only part of the equation. The teeth have roots that are anchored in the gums and jaw, all of which are the main parts of your face. This isn’t the time for DIY. 

The risks of using at-home clear aligners include:

No Treatment Supervision

To create your perfect smile, professional orthodontic involvement and supervision are critical from start to finish. This includes determining if you truly are even a candidate for clear aligners, properly creating the mold for the customized aligners, generating an in-depth treatment plan, examining your mouth periodically during treatment, assessing results, and being available for emergency visits if necessary.

DIY teeth straightening systems simply can’t or don’t offer this level of supervision. A recent news article reports that one plan states on its website “….although treatment plans are designed by licensed dentists, you won’t have direct access to your doctor throughout treatment. Some at-home aligner companies provide remote monitoring, but they only recommend sending monthly photos of your teeth — they don’t require it.”

So, with at-home teeth straightening, the patient becomes the overseer of their progress, rather than an experienced orthodontist. 

What happens in the middle of the night if sudden pain occurs? Will someone be available to help? What if the patient-created mold isn’t right from the beginning? Who will discover that? When? Straightening your teeth will affect you for the rest of your life. Too much can go wrong without proper supervision.

Damage to Teeth, Bones, and Gums

Because of this lack of supervision, treatment with at-home clear aligners can miss problems or act too slowly to correct them. If the alignment happens too quickly, significant damage to the jaw and the bones can result.

In other instances, some users have gum disease or decayed teeth before placing aligners over them. The aligners won’t work properly and the disease only gets worse. And since there are no x-rays or exams by a professional, this may result in long-term damage to the gums, teeth, and bones. The ultimate cost comes when a tooth is lost due to this damage.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one of the risks of DIY teeth straightening is irreversible tooth loss. Imagine envisioning the perfect smile promised in the ads, but ending up with missing teeth and infected gums. This quickly defeats the purpose of using the aligners to begin with.

The Use of Cheaper Materials

The DIY aligner systems cut costs in many ways, one of them being in materials used to create their aligners. That may sound good at first, but is the plastic they use leaching chemicals into your body? Is it durable?

When you see a professional for your clear aligners, you can be assured they are crafted from the most durable and FDA-approved dental-grade plastic available. At-home clear aligner kits are attractive because of the lower price but this results in lower-quality aligners that wear out faster, too. 

Expensive Errors and Poor Results

The trouble starts with the mold that the patients usually do themselves at home. Tiny errors in making this impression can translate to large problems with tooth movement. Instead of correcting bite problems and misaligned teeth, these problems can be made worse. 

What then? The patient has to see their dentist or orthodontist to deal with the damage. The original investment for the DIY orthodontic treatment was wasted and you may have to spend even more on surgery, implants, or other dental solutions.

Regardless of their glitzy commercials and advertisements, at-home clear aligners are like trying to wire your house with electricity with no experience or training. Even with a limited budget, you can find dentists and orthodontists who will work with you to get a dazzling smile. 

The Value of Clear Aligner Treatment With a Professional

Here are the top benefits of choosing an orthodontist as you prepare to straighten your   teeth with clear aligners:

  • An orthodontist has years of medical and dental training, including the study of teeth, gums, bones, and temporomandibular joints.
  • A complete examination with scans, X-rays, and digital measurements will form the basis of a personalized treatment plan.
  • The treatment plan will also work to keep the gums and bones healthy. 
  • An orthodontist will closely supervise the progress and make adjustments as needed during in-person visits.
  • Any issues with aligners will be dealt with quickly by the orthodontist and their team so progress isn’t disrupted.

The Choice Is Clear, Go With the Professionals! 

The American Dental Association “strongly discourages” DIY teeth straightening programs. Too much can go wrong if there isn’t a trained professional supervising the patient from start to finish. 

For a healthy, beautiful smile, leave orthodontic treatment to the professionals. Here at White Plains Orthodontics, we utilize effective, personalized, expert-guided treatment with Invisalign clear aligners (as well as other orthodontic treatment options) to give you the smile you dream of showing off. 

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation!