We’re all short on time. It’s great to take care of some things online. Orthodontic treatment just isn’t one of them.
With the rise in popularity of clear aligners in orthodontics, a number of companies have popped up offering direct-to-consumer aligners. There are concerns associated with this practice–so much so that the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has issued a consumer warning about online orthodontic treatment.
Yes, the cost of orthodontic treatment can sometimes be daunting. But while it may be tempting to seek a cheaper online option, the value of getting orthodontic care from a trusted provider can’t be overstated. It simply isn’t worth the risk of trying to take care of a complex dental process with little or no human contact.
Why Do I Need an Orthodontist?
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about straightening teeth. As the AAO points out, orthodontic care affects the jaw bones, facial bones and soft tissue of the mouth. The emphasis is and should be on the ongoing care that a patient receives rather than on any single device or appliance. Quality medical care just isn’t something you can get with the click of a button.
Orthodontics involves a complex treatment plan and carefully monitoring of progress over time, in some cases, over years. By nature, orthodontic treatment requires a very personal component.
When done right, orthodontic treatment starts with a comprehensive examination and x-rays before deciding on a course of treatment. Your orthodontist uses the findings of the examination and the x-rays to determine a treatment plan that is customized for you. Follow up orthodontic visits allow your orthodontist to carefully supervise your treatment, with appointments every six weeks to eight weeks to check on progress and make adjustments as needed. We’re also monitoring overall dental health and making sure patients are following important protocols and keeping teeth healthy.
Provider training and experience also come into play. All accredited orthodontists attend four years of dental school followed by an orthodontic residency lasting two or three additional years. Add years of experience treating patients into the mix and you have the key to a successful treatment.
You wouldn’t have a broken arm evaluated online. It doesn’t make sense to try to handle a very complex oral health treatment through an online provider.
What Are the Risks of Online Orthodontic Treatment?
There’s something too good to be true about the idea of ordering aligners based on a single mold of the teeth or even a simple photo without even the most basic exam.
As the AAO explains, orthodontic treatment done incorrectly can lead to big problems, including tooth and gum loss or damage to the bite. Especially where young patients are considered, it’s not a risk worth taking.
Here are just a few of the many risks of direct-to-consumer orthodontics:
- The services offered–namely invisible aligners–may not be the best course of treatment for every patient. High-quality invisible aligners like Invisalign can be a great option for adults and teens, but they’re not the best choice for everyone. And just like any other orthodontic appliance, their use should be closely monitored by a qualified dental professional.
- Unqualified operators: in the case of online orthodontic devices, things can get murky in terms of who is doing the decision making on course of treatment. Qualifications can be difficult to check and quality control can be difficult to verify.
- In the case of injury or an orthodontic emergency patients often have nowhere to turn when dealing with an online provider.
As the AAO reminds us, orthodontic treatment is a medical service provided by qualified professionals–not just a product or device that can be ordered and shipped. The association offers a great series of questions to ask for anyone considering online treatment at its website and our doctors are always ready to talk with patients about the risks of online orthodontics.
Orthodontic Care: Trust Matters
In orthodontics, as in most medical fields, the human component is incredibly important. There is absolutely no substitute for seeing a qualified professional on an ongoing basis. At NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics we pride ourselves on getting to know every patient as an individual. In many cases we have known our orthodontic patients from their very first dental check-ups, while others find us based on our reputation for excellent orthodontic care.
Getting to know patients and their needs is a top priority. We work hard to establish a sense of trust with patients and their families as they make big decisions about the future of their children’s smiles. We offer the added bonus of providing dental care in the same location, helping with ease of communication and allowing us to get to know patients and their dental histories even better.
Our orthodontist, Dr. Courtney Ullrich, has a Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and completed her orthodontic residency as chief resident at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center. Her educational qualifications are just part of the picture. Dr. Ullrich’s years of experience treating children and adults and her ongoing commitment to treating each patient as an individual are the cornerstones of her practice.
Your Orthodontist and Quality Care
We’re all used to making purchases online and constantly searching for the very best deal. This is completely fine when we’re talking about a computer or a pair of shoes, but when the oral and overall health of a child or adult is at stake, there just isn’t any reason to take the risk of questionable orthodontic care. There’s no substitute for the judgment and ongoing supervision of a qualified dental professional. Any cost savings just aren’t worth the risk of long-term damage.
Whether you’re a new or longtime patient, we’re happy talk with you–in person– about your orthodontic needs and come up with a customized treatment plan that’s p. Our team will be with you every step of the way.