San Francisco, CA – When you have a question about something, chances are the first place you turn for an answer is Google. With the internet almost always at our fingertips, we can find the answers to any questions. But how to perform our own orthodontic treatment shouldn’t be one of them.
Today, a quick search on YouTube will yield videos of users giving their quick fixes for getting a better smile. These videos are concerning to orthodontists. Our goal is to provide excellent care that will yield a healthy, stable smile that will last a lifetime. Taking advice from someone without true orthodontic experience can be dangerous.
One trend that is popping up on YouTube tells viewers that gaps in teeth can be closed simply by using rubber bands wrapped around the teeth on either side of the gap. YouTubers claim they have successfully closed large gaps just by using these rubber bands. This is worrisome for several reasons because the rubber bands can shift, leading to a host of problems, such as gum disease and bone loss. You may also be creating an even more unstable bite than you had before.
The DIY orthodontic trend is so alarming the American Association of Orthodontists issued a consumer alert telling patients that the trend can leave them at “substantial risk for irreparable damage.”
But YouTube videos are far from the only thing that we are worried about. In fact, there is an even more alarming trend out there today. There are currently companies on the market that aim to take advantage of our busy lifestyles and desire to have everything delivered right to our fingertips. Companies deliver aligner kits right to your door, at a fraction of the cost of aligners like Invisalign.
Chances are good you’ve seen ads for a company like this – they’re on TV, social media, and even show up in a Google search for Invisalign.
While many orthodontic patients love the convenience clear aligner therapy offers, we do not recommend using direct to consumer companies for this. During this process, you never meet with an orthodontist. In fact, you provide your own impressions from which your aligner sets are made. There are never in-person follow-up appointments to ensure your treatment is progressing as it should.
That should be alarming to you. If you never meet with an actual orthodontist, how can you be sure the treatment you are paying for is actually even working?
Direct-to-consumer companies have good intentions – providing patients with the tools they need to get the smiles they want in a seemingly convenient way. However, orthodontics should be left to the care of the professionals who have dedicated their lives to studying how teeth move and how to achieve ideal smiles for every patient. Without seeing an orthodontist in person, it is hard to know whether a patient’s smile is healthy enough to begin orthodontic treatment, if clear aligner therapy is the correct choice for their issue, or if there are other issues that may limit their results.
It would be wonderful if there were a quick fix for everything in life. Unfortunately, orthodontics is a process that involves time and requires the expertise of a trained orthodontist. Orthodontic treatment is about much more than just creating a pretty smile. It is also about creating a stable bite that will last a lifetime. Do-it-yourself options like direct to consumer aligner kits may seem like they can save you time and money, but if something goes wrong, you may just be creating an expensive and painful problem that is going to send you into the hands of an orthodontist anyway.
Trust your smile to a well-trained orthodontist, not an ad you saw on Instagram, and you’ll be much happier, and with a healthier smile, in the long run.