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Invisalign and the dangers of ‘online aligners’

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Invisalign is specifically designed to fit around people’s lifestyle, and improve their smile without the need for invasive surgery. Patients using Invisalign will benefit from quick results, often noticing a change within just a few weeks.

Invisalign can be a great option for those looking to enhance their smile and align their teeth. But a recent surge in ‘direct-to-consumer aligners’ have seen dentists across the UK speaking out about the detrimental impact they can have on teeth. A cheaper alternative to Invisalign, but at what cost? Let’s explore the difference between Invisalign and at-home aligners, and what the benefits and disadvantages are of each.

What is Invisalign?

An invisible orthodontics technique, Invisalign is the process of using clear removable trays to straighten the teeth, often used in place of braces which are semi-permanently fixed to the teeth. As the name would suggest, the clear plastic used to make the trays make Invisalign virtually invisible when worn. Each tray is custom designed to the shape of your teeth, swapped out every few weeks for a new tray that is adjusted slightly so that over time your teeth are adjusted to the desired places.

As digital imaging is used to create the trays, Invisalign is a very precise cosmetic treatment, designed to improve the look of the smile by moving and aligning the position of the teeth. Typical problems Invisalign are used for are:

What are direct-to-consumer aligners?

Direct to Consumer Aligners, or online clear aligners, fix the same problem as Invisalign, and offer the same solution in aligning teeth, but it’s the way in which patients obtain the treatment that you’ll see the most noticeable differences. These kinds of clear aligners are often purchased over the internet (you might see these kinds of adverts on platforms like Instagram) and have seen significant growth in recent years, with some predicting a 30.08% market growth rate between 2023 and 2030.

While Invisalign is a treatment performed by dentists, using digital imaging to create a mould that is precisely fitted to your teeth, Direct to Consumer Aligners do not involve any monitoring from your dentist or a dental practitioner, with the shape of the aligners often coming from an at-home impressions kit. 

You’ll send these impressions back to the company you’ve purchased the aligners from, who will then use the moulds to create your aligners in a remote lab and send them back to you, along with a treatment plan. 

Benefits of Invisalign

Invisalign is now one of the most popular teeth straightening systems, treating over 2.4 million patients since 1997. Some of the key benefits of Invisalign are:

Almost invisible: Invisalign is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a subtle correction, or are concerned about choosing metal braces due to their conspicuous appearance.

Very comfortable: Compared to traditional metal braces, the aligners are incredibly comfortable and are cut away from your gums to protect your mouth health.

Removable: This offers huge flexibility making it easier to clean and maintain your teeth as well as ease of eating and drinking.

Dependable: Due to the advanced innovation you receive with Invisalign, you can be confident in the end result and will have a good idea of how long the treatment will take without having to come back to the dentist frequently.

Whitening: The same aligners can be used for teeth whitening so you won’t need any extra moulds for the extra benefit.

Benefits of direct-to-consumer aligners

Many people are choosing online aligners due to the option of being able to straighten their teeth at home without the involvement of a dentist or dental practitioner. These types of aligners are also much cheaper, often up to 60% than what you’d find from a dentist or orthodontist, making it an attractive option to online shoppers. To sum up, the key benefits of at-home aligners are:

  • Patients receive an ‘all-in-one’ package, with (supposedly!) simple to follow instructions and treatment plan to action at home
  • Able to complete/fit at home
  • Often much cheaper than standard Invisalign

Disadvantages of Invisalign?

There are a few disadvantages that mean Invisalign may not be suitable for everyone; a consultation with your dentist will advise you if this treatment is right for you, but some disadvantages of Invisalign may include: 

  • Invisalign is not a cure for all dental problems – more serious cosmetic work may be required
  • Invisalign tends to be more costly than it’s cheaper alternative

Disadvantages of at-home aligners?

There are significantly more disadvantages and risks associated with direct-to-consumer, online aligners. For a start, straightening your teeth at home, without the help of a trained dentist, means you won’t be able to spot any potential risks to your oral health before or during treatment. 

These kinds of oral health risks may include:

  • Aggravated underlying conditions including gum disease, dental decay and abscesses which could result in severe pain.
  • Tooth loss due to underlying or undetected issues with the health of your teeth and gums, or due to the unsupervised treatment plans which can move teeth too quickly.
  • Bite issues, causing long-term TMJ pain and migraines.
  • Little or no movement to the teeth, meaning patients are forced to seek expert help at a later date, having already spent the money on this solution.

The lack of professional supervision at the beginning and through the process, the potential for missed diagnosis and the possibility of long-term damage that online aligners can cause is what makes these services such a risky choice.

At Bespoke Smile, we put your oral health first

We know how tempting it can be to choose the cheaper route, especially as budgets continue to be squeezed. But there’s a reason why dentists are speaking out about the dangers of online clear aligners. 

At Bespoke Smile, we’ll conduct a full consultation with you when you’re looking for teeth-realignment. Whether Invisalign is the right option for you, or Fixed Clear Braces, we’ll work with you to get your desired effect. We also have a number of payment options, including a 0% finance option, so you can find your perfect smile without breaking the bank.

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