What Is Mail-Order Orthodontics?
In the last few years, companies have started offering orthodontic treatment that is done without ever going to an orthodontic office. Customers do dental impressions at home and mail them in to see if they are a good fit for the treatment.
If they are, the company makes aligner trays and sends them to the customer through the mail. The customer then sends photos periodically so their progress can be monitored.
The process is advertised as being more convenient and less expensive, but is it really best for your smile?
The Cons of Mail-Order Braces
The list of reasons why you shouldn’t get this kind of treatment is quite long:
- It can only correct minor issues, such as a couple crooked teeth or a gap between two teeth
- You don’t get to choose your orthodontist, you get assigned to one, who you will most likely never meet
- What may seem like a minor issue could be major, but without seeing you in person, the orthodontist assigned to your case can’t tell
- It is hard to tell if the issue is truly being corrected from pictures taken on your smartphone and emailed to the company
- It is more difficult to change your treatment plan if needed because you are not seeing an orthodontist on a regular basis
- The price quoted at the beginning of treatment covers a certain number of aligners; if you require more aligners or a longer treatment, there is an additional cost
- There is no personal connection between you and the orthodontist on your case because you never meet them in person
Alternatives to Mail-Order Braces
Once the benefits of seeing an orthodontist in person are factored in, the cost between the two options to fix the same crooked teeth or spacing issues is not that different.
As mentioned above, online treatment can only treat minor issues, which can also easily be treated by an orthodontist. Invisalign Lite takes about 3 to 6 months and can fix slightly larger problems than mail-order aligners. Invisalign Express takes even less time to fix minor issues.
For those with tougher problems, Invisalign Complete and ceramic braces are both great almost-invisible options. And although these treatments cost more and will take longer, they fix issues that mail-order aligners can’t.