One recent innovation in the dental field is what is sometimes called DIY braces. These services will mail you clear plastic aligners to move your teeth into position. The process is superficially similar to Invisalign, and the Invisalign company even invested in one of these services.
It’s not quite DIY braces. You are supposed to get a checkup from your dentist before you start the procedure, and, supposedly, each case is reviewed by an orthodontist, although the company is unclear about how many cases each orthodontist is supposed to oversee at one time.
Supposedly, this service should save you money, but as more people are trying it, we’re finding that the savings aren’t as advertised. And for your small savings, you end up with few benefits, and even some potential risks.
Not Much Savings
These braces-by-mail services advertise heavily on their lower cost. They promise that, by cutting out an expensive dentist and working directly with the service, you can save a lot of money on your orthodontic treatment.
People are finding that’s not the case. When people actually talk to a dentist and then compare the price against the charges for braces-by-mail, they find that they are saving only a $100 or so. You might say that’s still $100, but is it really worth it? Let’s look at the benefits offered by these services.
Once you eliminate the issue of reduced cost, post-office orthodontics don’t offer many benefits. The only real benefit is that you don’t have to go to the dentist’s office to get your new aligners.
On the other hand, working with a dentist offers many benefits. First, it allows us to monitor your oral health during teeth straightening, which is important. Second, it allows us to offer you a full range of treatment options, which might help you to get better results. Not everyone benefits from clear aligners–in some cases, you should get more traditional braces.
Third, as we monitor your procedure, we can adjust your case, and, if necessary, provide refinements and revisions at the end of the procedure, which may be included in your original fee. Mail-order braces leave you stuck with what you get. If you don’t like your results, you may end up paying a dentist to fix what braces didn’t–or what they made worse.
We’ve previously talked about the risks of DIY dentistry. We don’t want to get into too much detail on the potential risks of using this kind of service. They have been explored adequately in other places. You can look at this article or that one to get a good sense of what kinds of risks can come from utilizing a service like this.
We can, however, remind you of the old adage about serving as your own lawyer and note that the same may hold true if you try to be your own dentist.
Don’t Assume It’s Cheaper
There is a lot of advertising behind this new idea of mail-order braces. It’s trying to convince you that this new way of getting braces done is better. We can’t stop you from doing it, but we will ask: if you are considering this type of orthodontics, also talk to a dentist about your case. You’ll probably find that the costs for mail-order braces aren’t actually that low, and that working with a dentist in person has many benefits.