A Warning About Clear Aligners Seen On TV

A Warning About Clear Aligners Seen On TV
Posted on 05/17/2019
This is the image for the news article titled A Warning About Clear Aligners Seen On TV

Lately a lot of online clear aligner companies have spent major dollars in advertisements trying to convince us that their treatment is safe, extremely easy, and hassle-free. You see their commercials on social media and TV all the time and you might be asking yourself, “Is that the same thing as going to the orthodontist for Invisalign?”. Many of these direct-to-consumer companies will ask you to take a selfie and get an impression of your teeth from home or they may even ask you to get your teeth scanned at one of their “scan centers” that they have created in a few larger cities in the U.S. Next, they mail aligners to you and after so many months of wearing them you will have perfect teeth! They make it seem so easy to use over the counter products to avoid the orthodontist altogether to get the smile that you have always wanted. Is that really all there is to it? Really?

Before you decide to move forward with one of these online clear aligner companies, Hartsock and Sword Orthodontics and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA) believe that there are several things you need to strongly consider for your safety. For example, in many instances these companies do not require an in-person evaluation before, during, or after your orthodontic treatment by a board-certified orthodontist that is in charge of your treatment and responsible for the outcome.  An orthodontist is a highly-trained specialist in diagnosing and treating misaligned teeth and their supporting structures. It is important to know that there is more to creating a healthy, beautiful smile than moving the visible portions of your teeth even though their commercials do not make it seem that way. Orthodontic treatment involves the movement of several biological materials, which if not done correctly could lead to irreversible and very expensive damages such as tooth loss, gum loss, inappropriately changed bites, and issues in tooth and jaw sensitivity. If you want to hear from an unsatisfied consumer who has already tried ordering aligners from one of these companies just click here for a news story. It is not difficult to find others as well through online reviews and various publications. There are currently over 935 (and counting) "Customer Complaints" on the Better Business Bureau's website for these direct-to-consumer aligner companies as well as other reviews and stories where individuals are claiming health and/or treatment issues with certain direct-to-consumer companies. We have had multiple people visit our office this year who are unsatisfied by their experience and/or results with these same companies.

Consider this question: What other transforming medical treatment would you undergo without seeing a trained doctor before, during, and after treatment?

If you are researching orthodontic treatment (including treatment models from direct-to-consumer companies like SmileDirectClub, Candid Co., Smilelove, SnapCorrect, Orthly, Byte), here are a few questions you may want to consider:

Does their treatment and fee include…

  • 1. comprehensive diagnostic records (i.e. x-rays of your teeth and jaws)
  • 2. a clinical examination of your jaw alignment, teeth, bite, and the relationship of your teeth to the skeletal structures?
  • 3. photographs of your face, facial profile, mouth, and teeth?
  • 4. taking digital scans or other impressions of your teeth? If so, are they done by a trained professional under the supervision of a doctor?
  • 5. any in-person visits to a board-certified orthodontist’s office during your treatment? If so, how many? What occurs during these in-person visits?

If a board-certified orthodontist is involved with your treatment, do you know…

  • 1. the name of the orthodontist who will be specifically involved with your case (for example, is it available on the company’s website or elsewhere)?
  • 2. his or her credentials?
  • 3. what other patients being treated by him or her have to say?

When it comes to the treatment that they are recommending for you…

  • 4. is only one treatment type offered (such as invisible aligners)? If so, how do you know that is the best treatment option for you, given your unique situation and oral condition, compared to other treatment models (such as braces)? Who is making that decision?
  • 5. how do you know if your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment? Who is making that decision and how is it being determined? If the decision maker is a dentist or orthodontist not associated with your treatment, who pays for that assessment?
  • 6. what are the possible risks (financial, health, etc.) associated with your treatment?
  • 7. who can you speak with at the online company about your orthodontic treatment? What is his or her education, background, qualifications and/or experience with orthodontics?
  • 8. who is responsible for detecting any issues that may occur during your orthodontic treatment? Is it you? If it is a doctor associated with your treatment, who pays for those check-ups? How can you contact him or her over the course of your treatment if an emergency arises?
  • 9. how is a dispute handled (litigation, arbitration, etc.) if you are somehow injured by the treatment? Are you asked to sign any forms that seek to release them from liability? State dental boards have their own complaint processes for patients who have had issues with orthodontic treatment (contact information for your state dental board can be found at https://www.aaoinfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info)

Dr. Hartsock and I care about our patients and we want what is best for them. If you are reading this, we care about you too. Please keep in mind that orthodontic treatment is not a product that you can buy online and have delivered to your house…it is a medical service that is performed by a highly trained and certified specialist and it requires in-person monitoring from a licensed orthodontic specialist. When your treatment is supervised in person by a board-certified orthodontist using Invisalign, you can have peace of mind knowing that your doctor has completed years of training beyond dental school to ensure your safety as the patient. Before you make a decision about pursuing any kind of orthodontic treatment or ordering something online or by phone, please schedule a FREE in-person consultation with one of our orthodontists right here in east Kentucky. We will be happy to take care of you…in person.

Dr. Jacob L. Sword, DMD, MS