Online orthodontics, also called DIY or At-Home orthodontics, has become a popular alternative to traditional, in-office treatment by an orthodontist. With benefits such as reduced treatment time and lower cost, it’s easy to see why. However, influential trade organizations such as the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have issued consumer warnings against at-home braces, with many orthodontists following suit. Today, Tisseront Orthodontics is joining them in warning you about the potential harm DIY braces can cause.
Average Treatment Time with At-Home Orthodontics is 6 Months
Simply put, that is way too fast. We understand wanting to be done with your braces as soon as possible. However, there’s a reason the average treatment takes 18-24 months. Moving your teeth with orthodontic appliances, be they braces or Invisalign, takes advantage of a natural process your body goes through when constructing bone. Your body is not meant to rapidly change, so a quick treatment won’t properly follow your body’s natural process.
At-home orthodontic retainers are often cut with a straight edge across the top, rather than scalloped to match your teeth. This allows the retainer to exert up to 4x the pressure on your teeth, which moves them faster. All of this may sound appealing, but like turning up the oven to make your cookies bake faster, it rarely – if ever – has the intended effect.
There is No Direct Supervision by an Orthodontist
DIY orthodontic kits tout not needing to visit a dentist or orthodontist as a program benefit, but to us, that’s a red flag. These at-home orthodontic services are often backed by real-world dental specialists. However, you don’t have the opportunity to choose from their roster – patients are assigned to one of their specialists. This limits your ability to fully vet your specialist and it limits your orthodontists’ ability to get to know you. Aside from the personal setbacks, not being in direct, real-time communication with your oral specialist places you at a higher risk of not identifying underlying problems in time. Things such as tooth decay and gum infections can be made severe by using such an intense orthodontic treatment.
The Possibility for User Error is High
Because DIY orthodontics are, well, do-it-yourself, there’s a lot being asked of the average person. Dental specialists like orthodontists undergo years of training in order to best care for their patients. As thorough as the instructions may or may not be in these at-home kits, they can’t compare to an oral specialist trained to spot potential problems before they can severely impact your health.
DIY Orthodontics Can’t Handle Severe Cases
Lastly, if at-home orthodontics intrigues you by promising you’ll save money on what you anticipate being extensive dental work, then you really shouldn’t try online orthodontics. This type of treatment can potentially work for small adjustments, and is best for folks who merely need touch ups to past treatment. However, while online orthodontic treatment programs don’t require you to maintain regular visits to a dentist or orthodontist, we say you should not engage in any oral treatment unless you do make the regular visit to the office. If you don’t, you run a high risk of causing more problems that will be even more expensive to fix than your initial treatment would have been.
With at-home braces and orthodontic treatments being so new to the market, it is hard to compare the results and methods to in-office treatment. However, we at Tisseront Orthodontics cannot support the practice due to the potential problems caused by not having direct orthodontic care. If you are concerned about the length or cost of orthodontic treatment, we urge you to book a consultation with Dr. Tisseront to discuss your concerns.
I feel very fortunate to have found a profession as rewarding as the field of Orthodontics! For over 20 years, I have enjoyed creating custom, beautiful smiles for our family of patients all over the Northern Virginia area. You can even find some of our loyal patients across the country and abroad!