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Mail-Order Orthodontics: Are They Safe?

Recent social media trends have led to a growing number of people considering or even trying at-home teeth aligners and braces. A lot is driving this movement, with financial considerations leading the pack. Social media is packed with hundreds of influencers and review sites talking up this new type of orthodontic treatment like it’s a miracle cure. If you’re considering mail-order treatments, keep reading. You’ll soon discover there’s a lesser-known dark side to these orthodontic appliances that may be costly in health and money alike.

Mail-Order Braces, Aligner Kits, And The Perfect Smile

Orthodontics work by altering the placement and shape of your teeth and jawbone on the way to a perfect smile. The knowledge of achieving this is gained through long years of education and keeping up with the latest techniques. Something as simple as taking a mold of your teeth properly takes a significant amount of expertise. Mail-order orthodontic suppliers have you take this mold yourself and then send it in for an evaluation. It takes a lot of time and personal attention to properly fit orthodontic equipment. It’s optimistic to believe you’ll get the same results with an orthodontist you’ve never seen. 

In the best cases, no harm will result from using these treatments. In many cases, the patient’s teeth end up looking worse than when they started. In the worst cases, actual damage is done that requires costly and time-consuming treatments to reverse. Consider the following risks associated with mail-order orthodontics:

  • No Personal Care – The orthodontic specialty involves a lot, and it’s certainly more than straightening teeth. Their responsibilities include identifying lasting concerns that can cause complications when orthodontic work is done. If you’ve never been seen, they only have your impression to go by.
  • No Oversight – Throughout your treatment process, you typically see your Orthodontist a few times. During these check-ups, they ensure that your teeth are moving at the expected rate and no other issues have appeared. You won’t get this kind of oversight with an absentee orthodontist.
  • Aligners Aren’t Always Appropriate – There are multiple reasons that your teeth may be out of alignment. Aligners cannot treat some underlying concerns; in others, these may cause more problems for you. If you’re fortunate, the lab you’re sending your impression to will notice this and advise you against this treatment.
  • Untreated Concerns – If you have oral health concerns that aren’t obvious from the dental impression you send them, they can go untreated. This can cause your teeth to develop more serious concerns over the treatment. If existing conditions exist and are untreated, they’ll also advance during this time.

One thing to remember is that good reviews are often artificially promoted on many sites. Hidden behind them are countless reports of those who have had less than optimal experiences with these mail-order treatments.

Mail-In Can Be More Costly Than In-Office

One of the biggest consequences you can face is results that aren’t what you hoped for. You can opt to go through another round of treatments or see your dentist in person when this occurs. In either case, addressing these concerns is going to involve more treatments. The result is a higher cost-point, more time being treated, and greater risks. Call your Orthodontist for a consultation today.

Dr. Karmen Massih Inspired by orthodontics at the age of 10, Dr. Karmen Massih earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at UCLA's School of Dentistry. After earning her certificates in orthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to her hometown of Glendale, CA, to begin Massih Orthodontics, a practice dedicated to transforming smiles for people of all ages.