Most people would like to have a nicer smile, straighter teeth. Traditionally, the only way to reach this goal was using something that was fixed to the teeth – braces. Whether made of metal, clear material or something hidden behind the teeth, braces are a tried and tested approach to teeth straightening and they achieve beautiful results for patients treated by an orthodontist.
With advancements in technology, new techniques and methods of teeth straightening are created. The newest kid on the block is something removable and invisible, namely clear aligners. By far the most popular name in this game is Invisalign. There are, however, many competing products that have appeared in recent years – Clear Correct, Orthocaps, Ecligner, to name just a few.
All clear aligners work on the principle that teeth are guided into position by a series of custom-made clear plastic trays. Although not always as efficient as its “fixed” counterpart, the wireless option can achieve great results in the right hands. Teeth are dumb; they don’t have a brain. They have no idea whether braces and wires or removable plates are being used to apply a force to move them. Therefore each technique requires a very special skill set in the treating clinician, and a good understanding of tooth movement is crucial to achieving a great result.
The harsh reality, though, is that not all clinicians are created equal; some are simply better or more experienced than others. The problem with the boom in clear aligner therapy is that most non-specialist dentists can complete a weekend crash course then start treating patients with very little or no knowledge of how teeth actually move.
An even more worrying trend for me at the moment are these do-it-yourself aligner products such as Smile Direct Club, Straight Teeth Direct and Ezysmiles, just to give a few examples. I am sure more such companies will pop up in the near future fighting for your business. This trend allows patients or consumers to essentially treat themselves with very little or no clinician interaction at all. It’s an attractive proposition for certain people. For one, it’s much cheaper than seeing a specialist orthodontist or dentist. All it takes is to send a mould or model of your teeth to them, and a series of aligners will arrive on your doorstep.
“Buyer beware!” rings true here. There will be a number of people, a very small number, who will achieve a result that is satisfactory to them. Others will, in the best-case scenario, see some improvement or none at all. In the worst-case scenario they will see side-effects such as gum recession, joint pain, inability to bite properly or even tooth loss.
The human body is a very complex system and needs to be treated as such. There is no such thing as one size fits all. Even the most experienced of us run into problems sometimes. No one single technique of moving teeth is applicable to everyone. See a clinician you trust and verify that they are a specialist. Discuss the best way to straighten your teeth that suits your lifestyle and meets your needs and wants. That way, you can be sure that you are in the hands of an expert and receiving the best care possible.