Realigning teeth is no longer all about metal braces. That infamous orthodontic tool now has rivals on the scene: Clear aligners. These translucent plastic retainers fit over your teeth and slowly push them into new positions. They are performing the same task as a traditional metal brace but doing so in a much more subtle way. You can comfortably wear these clear aligners all day without anybody being aware that you’re having any form of orthodontic treatment work done.
One of big advantages that makes this otherwise such a big departure from the traditional brace is that you can have the treatment carried out with minimal visits to the dental clinic if you wish. But what are these pros and cons and how is it really wise to carry out dental treatment without a dentist?
In the clinic
One of the UK’s most popular aligner providers is Invisalign Hertfordshire, who have a long history of providing aligners starting back in the early 2000s. It only allows it’s products to be used in clinics and under dentist supervision system of distribution where the dentist who provide the best results and customer quality are giving perks to ensure their products get used in the most effective way.
Although some clinics will still use dental impressions as part of the fitting process, Invisalign prefers clinics to use the intraoral scanner, a computer hardware which has been designed to take a 3D scan. This process speeds up the manufacturing process by sending accurate almost medical images of the patient’s teeth via email.
There are a myriad of aligner providers who will allow patients to sign up with them and receive their reminders by mail. Some have a web portal or website where you upload photos; some use their own in-house apps that are downloaded from the app store. These allow a video consultation as well as the ability to upload “clinical” photos. Clinical photos of the inside of your mouth are taken with whichever phone camera you happen to have.
After you are accepted to the service, you are sent out a home dental moulding kit allowing you to take an impression at home and post it back to them from which they designed the aligners. There is no dental supervision.
Note on dental moulds
Dental moulds have a long history in clinical use and have been instrumental in modernising dentistry but they are showing their age. They have some significant disadvantages: the first is that it is easy to get them wrong, warping and distorting a mould defeats the purpose of taking it in the first place. When done, as part of an at-home kit following along to a set of instructions or instructional video, the chances of this occurring increase dramatically and a poorly taken mould will result in an ineffective aligner.
If you genuinely cannot get to a cosmetic dentist, perhaps due to the being extremely remote area or are looking for the absolute cheapest orthodontic treatment (regardless of any other factors), at-home aligning would be your natural choice but for far more consistent reliable results, it is recommended to use an in clinic service under direct supervision of a dentist. Not only does this give you far greater return if things do go wrong, it gives you access to an accredited professional who is invested in their business, and by proxy prioritises your health and achieving your dental goals.