I have been weighing out my options for straightening my teeth. I have looked into the pros and cons with Invisalign and traditional braces. Now, the “Smile Direct Club” has my attention after seeing a recent television ad. It sounds like you can get your teeth straightened without ever having to see a dentist. I guess you go to their “Smile Shop” where you get a scan done or you can even do your own impressions from home. Then, the scan or your home impressions are sent to their lab where a dentist will review it. After that, you get a set of aligners back and you use it as directed for beautiful, straight teeth.
Now, this all sounds super simple and amazing. But, I am a realist too. It has to be too good to be true. What are your thoughts on the Smile Direct Club and other options for straightening teeth? I want to avoid metal braces if at all possible.
-Paul in Washington
With all the new technologies available, marketing opportunities for dentists and products available, it can be difficult for patients to know who and/or what companies to trust. Companies like Smile Direct Club make it even more difficult for a patient to know if they are legit or understood. Companies that recommend getting any type of dental treatment, whether it’s tooth whitening or orthodontics or some other treatment, should be evaluated very carefully. Patients should always consult a trusted dentist to oversee dental treatments.
If a company suggests avoiding or skipping the in-person dentist, it usually raises a red flag. Every case is unique and generally speaking, there is no quick fix that is going to work for all patients. Whenever there is orthodontic treatment recommended there are several important steps. For example:
- X-rays are important to see positioning of teeth.
- An exam will ensure you don’t have any underlying dental issues that need to be addressed.
- Checking for periodontal disease, TMJ issues or possible decay is imperative.
For Invisalign treatment, it requires full-mouth x-rays, as well as an in-person exam. This should not be eliminated, it is a very important step. Also, the regular supervision and monitoring with Invialign or any dental treatment for that matter enables a dentist to act in the best interest of the patient and address concerns as they come up. Even with the best technology, you cannot always anticipate exactly how the teeth will move. In some cases there needs to be more space or a button needs to be implemented.
Most patients with crooked or crowded teeth require additional spacing to enable the teeth to move into their correct positions. Under some circumstances, a tooth may need to be extracted to allow for more space. That said, it isn’t always the best or healthiest option, or the most attractive result. Lastly, the take-home impression is another red flag. Highly precise measurements of teeth are required for successful orthodontics or Invisalign treatment.
So, when you don’t have this interaction with the dentist, you are removing all of these important steps. I would proceed with extreme caution and encourage you to reconsider the Smile Direct Club. What usually happens with similar products and companies like this that sound too good to be true is that people get excited about a simple, more convenient alternative. Then, they have to deal with the negative results and then badmouth the company. You can do a little more research to see what actual patients have to say about their experiences.
All that to be said, it is always in your best interest to meet with a dentist and discuss your concern or need. Then, the dentist can make treatment recommendations that are individualized to meet your specific needs.
Best of luck and thank you for your question.
This post is sponsored by York PA dentist Donald H. Currie, DMD.