13 Nov Do at home aligners work?
Alignment is only a part of orthodontic treatment and in truth, at home aligners should be used
with extreme caution.
What are At Home Aligners?
We’ve seen a growing promotion of ‘At Home Aligners’ across social media, television and even in department stores. The Do-It-From-Home treatment promises straighten teeth without the ‘inconvenience‘ of visiting a dental office.
The idea is you take your dental impressions and a laboratory makes and posts you a series of clear aligners. You wear and change them at home- without ever seeing a dental professional!? … And ‘TaDah!’, you’ve made over your smile with braces at home.
As the treatment promises to be more convenient and affordable, we can see the appeal but it’s not without limitation, a number of risks and a huge concern. Dr Jill Daus shares her thoughts…
Risk with At Home Aligners
First and foremost the health of your teeth should be taken into consideration before trying to move your teeth with any orthodontic treatment. The specialist consultation we offer includes more than “Which treatment is right for you? And, how long it will take?”. It is to make sure your teeth are healthy and to ensure that any orthodontic treatment won’t be detrimental to your teeth.
You may have problems that can only be picked up during a clinical assessment and with x-rays. Orthodontic treatment can have a negative effect on some issues; root resorption, gum disease and dental decay for example!
It is really important to monitor these factors throughout your treatment. Supervised orthodontic treatment gives your clinician an opportunity to assess your dental health at every visit, to make recommendations and amendments as necessary to prevent any damage to your teeth and gums.
Sometimes there are additional treatments needed to give you perfect alignment such as Interproximal Enamel Reduction (IPR). The treatment involves gently reshaping and filing between your teeth to gain space in heavily crowded smiles and improve the contact points and cleanability of oddly shaped teeth. At-home aligners won’t be able to finesse and fine-tune your smile in the same way supervised, specialist orthodontic treatment would.
Even with experienced and careful planning, no one can fully predict how your teeth will respond to orthodontic movement. Which is why we see our patients every 6 weeks. We keep track and make changes to your treatment plan if necessary. Your At Home aligner treatment plan might tell you it is time to move on to the next aligner. But, only an experienced clinician will tell you if your teeth are ready for the next phase of the movement.
Supporting our patients with all aspects of their treatment is a vital part of the service we provide. Specialist treatment in a dental clinic will give you the face-to-face care, guidance, advice and reassurance that you may need throughout orthodontic treatment. We have a dedicated team at the end of the telephone that can answer any and all of your questions.
At home aligners require you to take a dental impression of your own teeth. Impression taking takes training and practice. Even we need to re-take them sometimes! They need to be accurate enough to guarantee a great fit. If the impression of your teeth isn’t as exact as it needs to be it will have an effect on the rest of the at home orthodontic treatment and the result.
the finished result
Before you finish your treatment it is important to make sure your teeth and jaws are correctly aligned and you are happy with your smile.
Your aligners will come to an end. You might think your teeth look great, but a qualified professional will know if your bite is accurate and your teeth fully aligned. The fee you pay us is to get you to the smile you are delighted with, sometimes we will make some final adjustments to your brace in order to get you the best possible outcome. This can take a few extra weeks, at no extra cost. If you’re not happy with the ‘finished’ result with at home treatment you will likely have to pay again for another course of treatment.
Retainers and relapse
Even more important than getting a great result is keeping it!
You will need to wear retainers indefinitely to maintain your smile. At home treatments may not include a removable retainer, and they won’t be able to check it fits correctly and adjust it while you wait. It is really important to consider the year of aftercare, which is when you are most at risk of orthodontic relapse (your teeth moving back). Many of our patients also opt for a fixed retainer, which is a thin wire that we place behind your teeth for extra peace of mind.
In truth, at home aligners should be used with extreme caution. Specialist orthodontic treatment is strongly advised. While it’s likely that only mild cases are deemed as ‘suitable’ for at home aligners, treatment is not without risk.
If you would like to know more about our specialist orthodontic treatments – get in touch today!