Teeth Straightening Options for Adults


Teeth straightening has come a long way within the past few decades. It’s never too late to start straightening your smile. Plus, there are plenty of ways to straighten your teeth nowadays. Here are the 3 basic ways you can straighten your smile:

  • Braces for complex tooth movements
  • Dentist -supervised clear aligners (like Invisalign ®) for moderate tooth movement
  • At-home clear aligners (like Smile Direct Club™ ) for simple tooth movements

The type of orthodontic treatment that’s best suited to your needs depends on how much tooth movement is required. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with your age. Let’s take a closer look at how each one works:

Complex tooth movements

What are complex tooth movements?

Complex orthodontic tooth movements are when your teeth need to move quite a bit. These types of movements require the most amount of forces. For example, moving your back teeth (molars), correcting more than 5 to 6 mm of crowding, and any type of tooth movement combined with tooth extraction falls into the complex category.

Examples of complex tooth movements

  • All underbites
  • All crossbites
  • Large overbites
  • Large openbites
  • Severe teeth crowding
  • Any type of problem caused by poor skeletal relationship (not dental)
  • Orthodontic treatments requiring tooth extraction

How can I fix complex orthodontic cases?

Complex orthodontic treatments almost always require braces. Clear aligners are typically not an option for treating these more complex orthodontic conditions. Braces put lots of forces on your teeth and they can move teeth in ways that clear aligners simply can’t. Here are several different braces options to consider for treating more complex tooth movenments:

  • Standard braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Ceramic braces

To learn more, talk to your dentist or orthodontist to see if you’re a candidate for braces treatment.

Mediocre tooth movements

What are mediocre tooth movements?

Mediocre tooth movements are those which don’t require as much force to move your teeth. Most mediocre tooth movements qualify for clear aligner therapy as well as for braces. This means that if your orthodontic condition is not too complicated, you may qualify for clear aligner treatment. We recommend using a dentist-delivered clear aligner program, such as Invisalign®, to fix mediocre tooth movements.

Examples of mediocre tooth movements:

  • Moderate overbites
  • Moderate openbites
  • Moderate teeth crowding
  • Large gap teeth

What are my treatment options for mediocre tooth movements?

There are a few different clear aligner systems to choose from when considering dentist-delivered clear aligners, such as:

  • Invisalign®
  • ClearCorrect
  • Some local labs make their own clear aligners

Your dentist plays an integral role in these types of clear aligner treatments. For instance, your dentist may have to perform tooth contouring, bite calibration and/or attachment placement to help your teeth move to their ideal position. Plus, your dentist or orthodontist will continue to monitor your progress to ensure that your treatment is on track. Dentist-delivered clear aligner treatments generally give you similar results to braces for fixing mediocre tooth movements. They also give you better results as compared to at-home clear aligners. Plus, the results you get from having a dentist supervise your treatment is likely to last you a lifetime (so long as you wear your retainers every night!)

Simple tooth movements

What qualifies as simple tooth movement?

Simple tooth movements are those which require the least amount of force to move your teeth. Typically, orthodontic cases that involve no more than 2 to 3 millimeters of movement per arch fall into this category.

Examples of simple tooth movements:

  • Mild overbites
  • Mild openbites
  • Mild teeth crowding
  • Mild-to-moderate gap teeth

What are my treatment options for fixing simple tooth movements?

Simple orthodontic movements can be treated with braces, dentist-delivered clear aligners, or at-home aligner programs. Did we say at-home? Yes, you may be able to treat some simple tooth movements with at-home clear aligner programs. In fact, these at-home aligner programs are very popular and there are plenty of different at-home clear aligner programs which you can choose from:

At-home clear aligner programs are not necessarily at-home only. There’s still a dentist involved in your treatment with these types of clear aligner programs. However, chances are you will never meet the dentist or orthodontist since they are working remotely. At-home clear aligner programs work well for fixing simple orthodontic movements. However, they are not recommended for complex or mediocre tooth movements. More complicated tooth movements must always be treated under direct dentist supervision using braces or dentist-supervised clear aligner programs. Otherwise, you risk damaging your teeth, gums, or even screwing up your bite in the long run!

Best orthodontic option for me?

Orthodontic treatment is not a one size fits all. Each patient is unique and requires a unique treatment option. For example, one patient may have very crooked teeth and requires 3 years of braces along with tooth extraction, palatal expansion and even jaw surgery. A second patient may have moderately crooked teeth and requires 18 months of Invisalign© treatment at their local dentist. Finally, a third patient may need very little tooth movement and requires just need 4 to 6 months of Smile Direct Club™ at-home clear aligners. As you can see, the orthodontic treatment that best suits your needs depends on how much tooth movement is required. Talk to your local dentist or orthodontist to see which treatment option is most suited for your needs. Be sure to enjoy your smile journey and best of luck with your new and improved smile!

The 7 benefits of clear aligners

Clear aligners or braces?

benefits-clear-aligners

So you finally decided to straighten your smile with Invisalign®, Smile Direct Club™, Even28 at-home®, or some other clear aligner system out there (and believe me, there are lots of them out there). Congratulations! Having straight teeth is awesome. And straightening your smile with clear aligners is even more awesome! But why choose clear aligners? Why not just go with traditional braces? It turns out that there are several benefits to wearing clear aligners as compared to braces. Let’s check out some of the reasons why more and more patients are choosing clear aligners over braces treatment:

(1) Aligners are more comfortable to wear

One of the most obvious advantages of clear aligners is that they are much more comfortable than braces. This doesn’t mean that clear aligners don’t hurt at all. There’s always some level of pain and discomfort when your teeth start to move. This is because no pain means no tooth movement. Having said that, wearing a removable plastic in your mouth is much less painful than having permanent brackets and wires attached to your teeth. You’re also not as likely to cut your cheeks, lips, or tongue with clear aligners as you are with braces. Overall, clear aligner therapy is a much more pleasant experience as compared to braces for most patients.

(2) Less noticeable in your mouth

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It’s hard not to notice someone who has braces in their mouth. Those brackets and wires can be pretty hard to miss! On the other hand, clear aligners go unnoticed most of the time. In contrast, you’d have to pay very close attention to realize when someone is wearing clear aligners in their mouth. This is another reason why most adults choose clear aligners over braces when given the option.

(3) Ability to remove clear aligners from your mouth

What happens if you’re in the middle of clear aligner therapy and all of a sudden an important job interview, date, or other life event comes up? Well, you simply skip wearing your clear aligners for a couple of hours or one day, and problem solved! Unfortunately, wearing braces doesn’t give you this option since braces are stuck to your teeth for the duration of your orthodontic treatment and can’t be removed. The ability to remove clear aligners is another reason most adults prefer clear aligners for less complicated orthodontic tooth movements.

(4) More hygienic than braces

It’s very easy to clean your teeth and gums during clear aligner treatment. Simply take your clear aligners out and you’re all set to clean your teeth as you normally would. The same can not be said of braces. Cleaning your mouth, especially at the gumlines and in-between teeth, can be very tough during braces treatment. And flossing your teeth? You might as well forget about it during your braces treatment. As a result, you’re more likely to develop dental cavities or gum disease when wearing braces if you are not meticulous with your oral hygiene.

(5) No white spot lesions

white-spot-lesions-braces-side-effect

Ever notice someone with a smile that looks like the photo above? This phenomenon is referred to as white spot lesions. White spot lesions are a rare side-effect of wearing braces. They are the result of your brackets creating a discoloration which leads to an undesirable mismatch in your teeth color. Unfortunately, fixing white spot lesions can be very tough. This type of discoloration does not respond well to most teeth whitening treatments. You may require extensive cosmetic dentistry to correct this color mismatch. The best way to avoid white spot lesions during braces treatment is to monitor your diet, minimize your processed sugar intake, and brush your teeth really, really well. In contrast to braces, clear aligner treatment bears no risk of developing white spot lesions, since there are no brackets attached to your teeth.

(6) Increasingly comparable costs

When clear aligners were first introduced to the market, they used to cost two to three times more than braces. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Clear aligner technology has become quite affordable these days and it is very similar to the cost of braces at most dental offices. As clear aligner treatment cost continues to drop, more and more patients are able to afford aligner therapy. In fact, simpler orthodontic movements can oftentimes be fixed with at-home clear aligner programs (like Smile Direct Club™ and Even28 at-home™) and cost less to treat with clear aligners as opposed to with braces!

(7) More fun!

I know the word fun and orthodontic treatment don’t necessarily go together… Having said that, most patients who undergo clear aligner therapy find out that wearing aligners is actually kind of fun! In fact, some miss not wearing their aligners once treatment is complete. Plus, seeing your teeth move on a 3-D animation model before starting treatment is sort of fun. Seeing your teeth move in person and watching your smile straighten week-after-week is even more fun! And having a straight and beautiful smile in just a few months is the most fun!

Am I a good candidate for clear aligner treatment?

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Most of you are probably ready to start your clear aligner treatment after having read this article. But before you get too excited about clear aligners, you need to make sure that you actually qualify for clear aligner therapy. After all, not every orthodontic condition can be treated using clear aligners. The most complicated of all orthodontic conditions still require traditional braces. To see if your orthodontic condition qualifies for clear aligner therapy, visit a dentist or orthodontist near you today. You can also take our clear aligner assessment quiz to see how likely you are to qualify for clear aligner therapy. Good luck with your smile journey and be sure to smile often once your grin is all nice and even!

What is the clear aligner process?

We all want to have a more attractive and dazzling smile. After all, your smile is the first thing that others notice about you. Straightening your smile can improve your appearance significantly. Having straight teeth makes you look and feel better. Plus, it’s easier to keep your teeth clean because straight teeth trap food as compared to crooked teeth. This means that straight teeth are also healthier teeth.

What are the different ways I can straighten my smile?

clear-aligner-process

Now that you’re convinced that straightening your smile is a good idea, let’s take a look at how you can do this. Traditionally, braces were your only option to a straighter smile. That all changed some 20 years ago when clear aligner technology was introduced. Clear aligners are a series of plastic trays that move your teeth without the need to wear brackets and wires. Clear aligners are comfortable, barely visible, and they can be removed when needed. In contrast, braces are more painful, can be an eyesore, and are permanently stuck to your teeth for the duration of your treatment. Naturally, most patients love wearing clear aligners. Clear aligners can be used to close small gaps, straighten crooked teeth, fix overbites, and address many other orthodontic misalignments. Let’s take a look at the steps involved in clear aligner therapy:

Step 1: Consultation

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To start your clear aligner program you need to make sure that you’re a good candidate for wearing clear aligners. Complex orthodontic conditions, such as a crossbite or underbite, do not qualify for clear aligners and require braces. Schedule a consultation with a local dentist or orthodontist to see if you’re a good candidate for clear aligner therapy.

Step 2: Orthodontic treatment

The next step is to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough to handle orthodontic treatment. Placing clear aligners on teeth with cavities or gum disease is dangerous and risky. You should always obtain clearance prior to starting any type of orthodontic program. This includes a thorough examination of your teeth and gums and a dental cleaning if you’re due one. If there are any essential underlying dental problems, you need to fix them. As soon as you’re cleared, you’re set to start your clear aligner treatment.

Step 3: Dental records

clear-aligner-dental-records

Your dentist or orthodontist must obtain your dental records to design your clear aligner program. The most essential dental records are moldings or digital impressions of your teeth. These are used to communicate your teeth shape, size, and position with the laboratory. Additional dental records may include photos, X-rays, or a bite relationship record. Obtaining dental records is simple and is usually performed on your initial visit.

Step 4: Treatment planning your clear aligner program

clear-aligner-treatment-planning

Your doctor gathers all necessary dental records and sends them to the laboratory. The lab technician scans these records into the computer. By following your doctor’s prescription, the lab designs a 3D animation of your projected tooth movement. There are many factors which must be taken into consideration to give you the best end results:

  • What do you want to improve about your smile?
  • Which teeth should be moved and which ones shouldn’t move?
  • Are there any oversized teeth that require contouring?
  • Are there any teeth that need to be rotated using excessive torque?
  • Does your midline, canine relationship, or molar positions require any type of correction?

Your lab technician designs a projection of your tooth movement and sends it to your doctor. Your doctor either approves this design or modifies the design to improve the results. This process is repeated until your doctor is satisfied with your tooth movement projection. Once your doctor has approved your treatment plan, it’s now time to make the actual clear aligners.

Step 5: Recieve and wear your clear aligners

The lab technician uses 3D printing technology to create a series of clear aligners. You receive your clear aligners at home (for programs like Smile Direct Club™ or Even28 at-home™) or directly from your dentist (for programs like Invisalign®). It’s now time to start wearing your clear aligners. The key to success with any orthodontic treatment is compliance. Wear your clear aligners as instructed. Click here to learn more about the 3 different methods you can wear your clear aligners in order to achieve the best end results.

Step 6: Monitoring your progress

Simple orthodontic treatment can be completed using at-home clear aligners. For these super simple cases, it’s not necessary to visit your dentist or orthodontist every few weeks. However, for more complicated tooth movements you must visit your dentist or orthodontist periodically. Typically, you need to visit your dentist or orthodontist every two to eight weeks, until you’re treatment is complete. Your doctor will perform treatments such as tooth contouring, attachment placement, or bite calibration. They also monitor your progress to ensure that your treatment is going as planned and make corrections when necessary.

Step 7: Review your end results

clear-aligner-final-results

Wearing clear aligners without proper dentist supervision could mess up your bite, harm your teeth, or damage your existing dental restorations. Be sure to follow-up with your dentist to make sure that your treatment has gone according to plan. Your doctor may take additional corrective measures to fix unforeseen issues. This involves bite calibration, additional tooth contouring, or requesting additional clear aligners for corrective measures.

What are my options for straightening my teeth using clear aligners?

clear-aligner-treatment-options

Clear aligners are becoming more and more popular these days. There are now more than a dozen different companies that can help you straighten your teeth using clear aligner technology. We categorize clear aligners as either at-home or dentist-supervised programs. Here’s how each one works:

At-home clear aligner programs

At-home clear aligner is only suitable for the simplest orthodontic conditions. This includes closing small gaps, straightening slightly crooked teeth, closing very small overbites, and other minor orthodontic tooth conditions. Here’s a list of a few different options for receiving at-home clear aligner therapy:

Dentist-supervised clear aligner programs

More complex tooth movements always require dentist supervision. Keep in mind that your dentist does more than just hand your clear aligners, for example:

  • They can place attachments (buttons) to torque stubborn teeth
  • They perform tooth contouring to create additional room for tooth movement
  • They adjust your bite to correct any potential interferences
  • They monitor your progress to make sure your treatment goes as planned

Dentist-supervised clear aligner programs can fix more advanced orthodontic conditions. These include moderate teeth crowding, mediocre overbites, some openbites, and other moderate-to-advanced orthodontic misalignments. Here’s a list of a few different dentist-supervised clear aligner treatment options which you can choose from:

How do I start with my clear aligner treatment?

Now that you understand how clear aligners work, it’s time to find a great dentist to straighten your smile! Click on the link below to go to our Search Engine and search nearby dentists. Look through their profiles to learn more about them, including their treatment photos and reviews. when ready, you can even book your appointment online. Best of luck with your clear aligner journey!

FIND A DENTIST NEAR YOU

Am I too old for braces or clear aligners?

Most people associate orthodontic treatment with teenagers and younger folks. The sooner you start your orthodontic treatment, the easier it is to correct your condition. Orthodontists recommend that you get evaluated for your teeth relationship by age 6 or 7. Early assessment allows for interceptive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as phase one. It’s easier to move teeth when you’re younger because your bones are still soft and they haven’t fused yet. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have orthodontic treatment in their youth. Do adults qualify for orthodontic treatment? How about seniors? And when exactly are you too old for braces and clear aligners? Let’s find out:

What is the best age to start orthodontic treatment?

The ideal age to start orthodontic treatment is your teen years. typically between the ages of 11 to 16. Orthodontists recommend that you start comprehensive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as phase two, once all of your adult teeth have erupted. This usually occurs at around age 11 for girls and 12 for boys. The goal is to finish your orthodontic treatment by age 17. By this time your facial bones finish fusing which makes it more difficult to move teeth.

When are you too old for orthodontic treatment?

clear-braces-braces-adults

You’re never too old to straighten your smile and improve your smile. Age is not a limiting factor when it comes to receiving orthodontic treatment. You can get braces or clear aligners no matter how old you are. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy enough to support braces or aligners, you can receive orthodontic treatment. Whether you’re in your forties, fifties, or sixties, you may still qualify. In fact, there are several benefits to receiving orthodontic treatment as an adult, for example:

  • Adults are better at keeping their appointments as compared to teenagers. This makes it easier to complete their orthodontic treatment on time.
  • Adults are better at following their dentist or orthodontist’s instruction, again, yielding better end results.
  • Finally, adults are better at maintaining their oral hygiene throughout their orthodontic program. As a result, they end up with fewer complications during their orthodontic program.

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults?

benefits-clear-braces-braces-adults

Straightening your teeth does more than give you a prettier smile. Here are some of the most common benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults:

Improve your appearance and confidence

There’s no question that having a straight smile improves your appearance. After all, your smile is the first thing that others notice about you. Straightening your teeth also increases your self-confidence so you feel better about yourself and your appearance.

Reduce your risk of cavities

Patients with crooked teeth are far more likely to develop cavities, especially in-between their teeth. It’s more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene when your teeth are crooked or when there are gaps between your teeth. Straightening your smile helps reduce your chances of developing cavities, regardless of how old you are.

Improve your gum health

Having crooked or gap teeth also makes it more difficult to maintain healthy gums. Crooked teeth gather more plaque as compared to straight teeth. If you can’t clean your teeth because of how your teeth are positioned, you eventually develop gum disease. Straightening your teeth makes it much easier to maintain healthier gums. Straightening your teeth can improve your gum health and reduce, or even eliminates, your gum disease.

Correct your bite relationship

When your teeth don’t touch the way they’re supposed to, you suffer from a poor bite relationship. Having a poor bite places additional stress onto your teeth. This causes your teeth and dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, to chip and break more frequently. It can also lead to migraine headaches, tension pain, and other head and neck-related pain and discomfort. Improving your bite relationship using braces or clear aligners can improve your bite relationship and reduce these undesirable complications.

Is it better to wear braces or clear aligners as an adult?

clear-aligners-versus-braces-adults

Most adults prefer clear aligners over braces when given the choice. Your dentist or orthodontist will discuss clear aligners and braces with you and help you decide between the two. Keep in mind, the most difficult orthodontic cases require braces. They can not be treated with clear aligner programs like Invisalign® or Smile Direct Club™. Here are some benefits of clear aligners over braces:

  • Clear aligners are more comfortable than braces
  • You can remove your clear aligners to eat or clean your teeth, in contrast, braces are permanently stuck to your teeth and they can not be removed
  • Clear aligners are barely visible inside your mouth making them much less noticeable than braces
  • The plastic that clear aligners are made from is less likely to cut or bruise your mouth whereas wires and brackets frequently cause bruising of the mouth
  • There’s no metal in clear aligners which makes it a better option for people with metal allergies or those seeking more holistic dental care

How long does adult orthodontic treatment take?

Adult orthodontic treatment takes a bit longer than treatment for teenagers. This is primarily due to the stiffening of your jawbones which makes it more difficult to move your teeth around. Simpler cases, and those of you who already had braces before, usually require 6 to 18 months of Inivisalign® or braces treatment. More complicated cases usually take 2 years or longer. Schedule a consultation with your local dentist or orthodontist to have your teeth evaluated and determine exactly how long your treatment is going to take.

How do I know if I qualify for orthodontic treatment as an adult?

Dental-conditions-affecting-braces-clear-aligners

People with healthy teeth and gums are usually good candidates for orthodontic treatment. They can start their orthodontic treatment as soon as they are cleared by their dentist. However, those of us who have had their fair share of dental work in the past, have a few things to consider before starting orthodontic treatment. Here are a few things you should be aware of before starting your clear aligner or braces program:

You must have healthy gums

Having healthy gums is a prerequisite to starting orthodontic treatment as an adult. If you don’t have gum disease, then a thorough dental cleaning is all you need to start your clear aligner or braces program. If you’re suffering from gum disease, you must postpone all orthodontic treatments until your gum disease is under control. Finally, those who suffer from advanced stages of gum disease don’t qualify for orthodontic treatment. It’s simply too dangerous to move your teeth if you already have extensive bone loss as a result of advanced gum disease.

Your teeth need to support braces or clear aligners

There are a few dental conditions that impact your orthodontic treatment. For example, if you have porcelain veneers on your front teeth, there’s a chance you may have to redo your veneers after completing your orthodontic treatment. If you have dental implants then you need to discuss them with your treating dentist or orthodontist. They need to make sure that they avoid putting any forces on your dental implants of they will damage them. The same goes for most fillings, crowns, and bridges. These can all have an impact on your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate your mouth before starting your orthodontic program.

You should have a plan to fix the rest of your mouth

As we age we continue to develop more dental problems. Cavities, failing dental restorations, and missing teeth can complicate your orthodontic treatment. Therefore it’s important to have a long-term plan to fix these dental conditions. Be sure not to forget about fixing the rest of your mouth. Otherwise, your bite may collapse and you’ll be back to where you started within a few years.

You should have a long-term retention plan

Surely, you don’t want to redo your orthodontic treatment anytime soon! This is why you need to have a plan to keep your teeth in position after straightening them. Wear your orthodontic retainers to keep your teeth in their correct position. Consider placing a fixed retainer on your teeth if you’re the type that forgets to wear his or her retainers. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to come up with a plan to maintain your straight smile and be sure to follow their instructions carefully.

What if I already had orthodontic treatment and need a simple touch-up?

There is good news for those of you who are considering redoing their orthodontic treatment: it’s easier to move your teeth if you’ve already had braces or clear aligners in the past. If this is your second-time receiving orthodontics, you’re very likely to qualify for clear aligner therapy. Additionally, your treatment time is expected to be much shorter. Most orthodontic relapse cases can be treated within just a few months instead of a couple of years.

How do I get started?

The first step to fixing your smile is to find a dentist or orthodontic near you. You can use our dentist Search Engine to locate a great dentist near you. View your dentist’s profile to learn more about them. View their treatment photos, list of services, reviews, and book your appointment online. Oh, and by the way, good luck with your braces/clear aligners!

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Is Smile Direct Club™ safe?

Smile Direct Club™ specializes in teeth straightening using clear aligner technology. They are a remote clear aligner supplier, a concept known as tele-dentistry. Smile Direct Club™ is one of several startups that promise to straighten your teeth without the need to visit a local dentist or orthodontist. Candid Co.™, Byte™, and SmileLove™ are a few other companies that operate identically to Smile Direct Club™.

So what are clear aligners? Clear aligners are a series of firm, plastic trays designed to incrementally move your teeth into a more desirable position. They come as a series, where each clear aligner moves your teeth a fraction of a millimeter. As you continue going through your clear aligners, your teeth start to settle into their ideal position. This means that you can straighten your smile using clear aligners without having to wear braces!

Now let’s take a look at how SmileDirectClub™ clear aligners work? Traditionally, you had to visit your local dentist or orthodontist to receive clear aligner therapy. Well, this is no longer the case. Smile Direct Club™ offers clear aligners directly to customers without any direct dentist involvement (at least not one whom you’ll ever meet). There are two ways to receive Smile Direct Club™’s clear aligners: (a) Take your own teeth impressions using their starter-kit or (b) go into one of Smile Direct Club™’s stores, known as a Smile Shop™, and have your teeth scanned by a technician. You will receive your clear aligners in the mail within a few days and can start straightening your grin. Now that you understand how SmileDirectClub™ works, let’s take a look at how safe they are:

Risks of at-home clear aligners like Smile Direct Club™

As we mentioned above, there are two general ways to receive clear aligner therapy: (1) go to your local dentist or orthodontist (referred to as dentist-delivered clear aligners) or (b) purchase them online from Smile Direct Club™, Candid Co.™, etc. (known as at-home clear aligners). The biggest concern surrounding online clear aligner programs is their safety. Are DIY aligner programs such as Smile Direct Club™ safe? or are there risks and dangers which you need to be aware of? and is straightening your teeth without direct dentist supervision worth the savings? Let’s take a look at the top 5 risks of straightening your teeth sing do-it-yourself clear aligners, the likes of Smile Direct Club™ or Candid Co.™:

(1) Lack of proper initial diagnosis

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Is it safe to put clear aligners on teeth that have cavities? Definitely not! Should you wear clear aligners if you are suffering from periodontal disease? Most definitely not! This is why you must always see a dentist before starting any type of orthodontic treatment. Clear aligner therapy is no exception. You should always visit your dentist first to make sure it’s safe to start treatment

Smile Direct Club’s approach:

  • Customer: “My gums are bleeding. Is it safe to straighten my teeth using clear aligners?”
  • Representative: “I don’t see why not? Our clear aligners might fix your gum issues!”
  • Customer: “Can I wear clear aligners if I have cavities?”
  • Representative: “Sure. Your cavities can’t get that much worse within a few months.”
  • Customer: “I still have my wisdom teeth and they hurt occasionally. Can I still wear clear aligners to straighten my teeth?”
  • Representative: “Of course! Wisdom teeth have nothing to do with clear aligners.”

You should only straighten your teeth once all underlying dental conditions have been properly diagnosed and treated. Cavities, gum disease, wisdom impaction, and many other dental conditions can affect the final outcome. Do not rely on the advice of a smile concierge. Always consult with a licensed dentist prior to starting clear aligner therapy.

Dentist’s approach:

  • Patient: “My gums are bleeding. Is it safe to straighten my teeth using clear aligners?”
  • Dentist: “No, it’s not safe. Bleeding gums are most likely a sign of gum disease. You need to treat your gum disease first. Orthodontic treatment causes your teeth to become loose temporarily. This could contribute to additional bone loss which can damage your already infected teeth and gums. Let’s discuss how we can treat your gum disease first and then we can start your clear aligner therapy.”
  • Patient: “Can I wear clear aligners if I have cavities?”
  • Dentist: “Definitely not! Dental cavities can reach your tooth nerve at any time, causing pain and infection. There is no way to determine how long it takes for a cavity to cause problems. It could be days, weeks, or months. Therefore, I highly recommend that you fix your cavities, then straighten your teeth.”
  • Patient: “I still have my wisdom teeth and they hurt occasionally. Can I still get teeth aligners to straighten my teeth?”
  • Dentist: “It depends on the condition of your wisdom teeth. If your wisdom teeth are fully embedded in your jaws, they are unlikely to cause an immediate problem. This means that it is safe to start clear aligner therapy. However, if your wisdom teeth are sticking out or causing pain, they need to be addressed. Consider removing your wisdom teeth before starting clear aligner therapy. Otherwise, they will push on your remaining teeth and make them become crooked again.”

Do-it-yourself clear aligner programs like Smile Direct Club™ undermine the importance of addressing your oral health. Neglecting your cavities and gum disease can lead to infection, bone loss, and other long-term problems. Don’t gamble with your oral health! Having straight teeth is not worth damaging your teeth and gums. Be sure to consult with your dentist first and only start treatment once you’ve been cleared.

(2) Failure to identify cases which require braces

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Clear aligners have many benefits. They are comfortable, convenient, and you can remove them when needed. However, clear aligners do have their limitations as well. The main disadvantage of clear aligners is that they can’t fix complex orthodontic conditions. Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine if your orthodontic condition is suitable for clear aligner therapy or braces. This comes from years of dental school education and training. Your dentist will examine you for the following conditions before starting treatment:

  • Is your orthodontic condition due to skeletal or dental misalignment?
  • Do you suffer from Class I, 2 or 3 malocclusion?
  • What are your canine and molar relationship?
  • What is the extent of your overbite and overjet?
  • Are your upper and lower midline position correct?
  • What is the extent of your teeth crowding or spacing?
  • What is your anterior and posterior teeth relationship?
  • Is your bite correct?
  • Do you suffer from an overbite, openbite, deepbite, crossbite or underbite?

Certain orthodontic conditions can be treated perfectly fine using clear aligners. Others don’t respond as well to clear aligner therapy. In fact, some cases actually worsen with clear aligners. Properly diagnosing your orthodontic condition is crucial to deciding on the right treatment. Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine if you’re a good candidate for clear aligners or if you need to go with braces instead.

Smile Direct Club’s approach:

  • Customer: “Can I fix my underbite with clear aligners?”
  • Representative: “Sure you can. Our clear aligners can fix your underbite!”
  • Customer: “Can I fix my crossbite with clear aligners?”
  • Representative: “Of course. Our teeth aligners can fix your crossbite!”
  • Customer: “Can I fix my overbite with clear aligners?”
  • Representative: “You absolutely can. Our clear aligners can fix all overbites!”

The problem here is, Smile Direct Club™ ‘s representatives are not actual dentists and they have no understanding of different orthodontic conditions. Your smile concierge automatically assumes that every orthodontic case can be fixed using clear aligners. This is not true. The dentist who is in charge of your Smile Direct Club™ treatment, never gets to see you in person. You can’t properly diagnose one’s orthodontic status simply by looking at a computer scan from a thousand-miles away. Ultimately, your underlying orthodontic condition could go undiagnosed and won’t get properly treated using Smile Direct Club™ clear aligners.

Dentist’s approach:

  • Patient: “Can I fix my underbite with clear aligners?”
  • Dentist: “Most likely not. Clear aligners are very effective at straightening teeth and closing gaps. However, they are not capable of fixing most underbite cases. Treating your underbite will require braces.”
  • Patient: “Can I fix my crossbite with clear aligners?”
  • Dentist: “Definitely not. Crossbites are very difficult to fix and they almost never qualify for clear aligner therapy. Just about all crossbite cases require braces.”
  • Patient: “Can I fix my overbite with clear aligners?”
  • Dentist: “It depends on how large your overbite is. If your overbite is mild-to-moderate, then you’re probably a good candidate for clear aligner therapy. However, if your overbite is very large, then you will require braces.”

Certain simple orthodontic cases are treatable using at-home clear aligners. Other more complex cases can be fixed with clear aligners. However, it’s important to have a dentist supervise your treatment. Procedures such as tooth contouring, attachment placement, and bite calibration all require the presence of a dentist or orthodontist. These cases should only be treated using dentist-delivered clear aligners. Finally, the most complex orthodontic conditions don’t qualify for clear aligners. They require braces instead.

(3) Orthodontic relapse

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Clear aligners can be very effective at straightening your teeth when used correctly. However, for your teeth to stay straight, you need to figure out the underlying cause of your orthodontic condition. Here are a few things you should think about before starting your clear aligner therapy:

  • Are your teeth crooked because they are too large for your jaws? or is it because your wisdom teeth have started pushing on your other teeth?
  • Are the gaps in your mouth the result of a size discrepancy between your teeth and jaw size? or were they caused by a missing tooth?
  • Is your overbite caused by poor positioning of your upper and lower teeth? or do you suffer from an underlying skeletal discrepancy?

It takes an experienced dentist to understand the subtle details surrounding straightening your smile. These little details can make a big difference in the final outcome and how your teeth will look 5, 10 or 15 years from now.

Smile Direct Club’s approach:

  • Customer: “My teeth are really crowded. Will they remain straight after clear aligner treatment?”
  • Representative: “Sure they will. Our clear aligners can fix your grin and they will remain straight forever!”
  • Customer: “I’m missing a tooth. Is this a problem if I want to straighten my teeth?”
  • Representative: “Not at all. Use our clear aligners to straighten your grin and fix the missing tooth afterward.”

Dentist’s approach:

  • Patient: “My teeth are really crowded. Will they remain straight after clear aligner treatment?”
  • Dentist: “It depends on how much teeth crowding there is. If your teeth crowding is minor, there’s a good chance that your teeth will remain in their new position. Just be sure to wear your retainers as instructed. Do you still have wisdom teeth? If so, I would recommend placing a fixed-retainer on them. This prevents your wisdom teeth from shifting your remaining teeth. If you have more advanced teeth crowding, it’s best to perform tooth contouring to create space for proper tooth movement.”
  • Patient: “I’m missing a tooth. Is this a problem if I want to straighten my teeth?”
  • Dentist: “It depends on which tooth you’re missing. If you’re missing a terminal tooth then this shouldn’t be a problem. Finish your clear aligner therapy, then place a dental implant to replace your missing tooth. If you’re missing a front tooth then you need to plan accordingly. Without replacing your missing tooth, your teeth will slowly shift into this gap. By the way, would you like a fake tooth while I’m straightening your teeth? I can add filling material into your clear aligner to resembles your missing tooth. This way, you won’t be walking around with a front tooth missing during your clear aligner therapy.”

More than half the people who wear braces or clear aligners need to redo their treatment within a decade! Band-aid treatment may produce satisfactory short-term results, but it fails in the long-run. Fixing your teeth without addressing the underlying orthodontic condition leads to orthodontic relapse within a few years. Ultimately, you end up exactly where you started off in just a few years.

(4) Damage to your bite

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Your bite refers to the way your back teeth come together when you close your mouth. A correct bite is the cornerstone of orthodontic science. Having a correct bite is very important to the long-term health of your teeth. If your teeth don’t come into proper contact with one another, then your bite is considered to be off. Having a poor bite relationship has some serious consequences, for instance:

  • An incorrect bite increases the likelihood of chipping and fracturing your teeth
  • A poor bite increases the chances of your fillings and crowns breaking and failing
  • Having a poor bite overstresses your jaw joints which can lead to headaches, migraines and tension pain in your head and neck region

Let’s take a look at how Smile Direct Club™ and dentists approach your bite:

Smile Direct Club’™s approach:

  • Customer: “Will clear aligners fix my bite?”
  • Representative: “They just might!”

You won’t hear a lot of no’s from Smile Direct Club™ people. This is because they don’t understand the problems that arise due to negligent orthodontic treatment. Trying to fix complicated orthodontic misalignments using clear aligners is usually ineffective. Simply wearing a couple of aligners to straighten your front few teeth will do nothing to address your bite problems. Neither will it fix any underlying symptoms resulting from a poor tooth relationship.

Dentist’s approach:

  • Patient: “Will clear aligners fix my bite?”
  • Dentist: “Clear aligners can make some minor bite improvements. However, if you’re suffering from bite issues, you should wear braces. Avoid at-home clear aligners if you want to improve your bite. In fact, unsupervised at-home clear aligner programs can mess up your bite. Consider dentist-delivered clear aligners if you’re looking to improve your bite using clear aligners.”

If you’re looking to enhance your bite relationship, we recommend that you rely on the expertise of a dentist or orthodontist with the training and experience to understand complex bite relationship issues. Your dentist has the knowledge and expertise to address these complications. They are also capable of fixing your bite relationship whenever required.

(5) Lack of accountability

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What happens when something goes wrong during your clear aligner treatment? Accidents happen, especially when you’re moving teeth around:

  • Your dental fillings may separate from your teeth
  • Your crowns or porcelain veneers may pop off
  • You could cut your lips or cheeks

When there’s a dentist in charge of your clear aligner treatment, you have nothing to worry about. Simply visit your dentist and he or she will fix the problem. But what if the same thing happens with Smile Direct Club™? One option is to hop on a plane and go to Nashville to meet the dentist who approved your clear aligner program! The more practical solution is to find a local dentist. However, be prepared to pay a hefty sum to fix your problem. A $75 crown cementation can easily turn into a $1,000 new crown scenario. Lack of access to a local dentist can be problematic when emergencies arise. There’s simply no substitute for having access to a local dentist when you need one.

Smile Direct Club’s approach:

  • Customer: “My teeth have been hurting when I wear my aligners. What should I do?”
  • Representative: “Just give it some time and it should get better. Our aligners are extremely safe and they are BPA-free so you should be okay.”
  • Customer: “I think my clear aligners might be cutting my gums. Should I be worried?”
  • Representative: “Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll get better within a couple of days.”
  • Customer: “I finished my clear aligner therapy but I feel like my teeth are not that straight. What should I do?”
  • Representative: ” I think your teeth look great so I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Dentist’s approach:

  • Patient: “My teeth have been hurting when I wear my aligners. What should I do?”
  • Dentist: “Is it just one tooth or are all of your teeth hurting? It’s very likely that the discomfort you are experiencing is related to your clear aligners. However, there are other things that could go wrong that need to be ruled out. Let me examine your teeth. I will let you know exactly what is happening so you don’t have to worry about it.”
  • Patient: “I think my clear aligners might be cutting my gums. Should I be worried?”
  • Dentist: “When did you switch out your most recent clear aligner? It’s very likely that the pain you’re experiencing is related to your new clear aligner. However, there are other dangerous conditions that mask themselves as sore lesions. We need to rule these out. I will examine your mouth to make sure that there’s nothing serious going on. We can also review how you’re wearing your aligners and make sure your progress is on track.”
  • Patient: “I finished my clear aligner therapy but I feel like my teeth are not that straight. What should I do?”
  • Dentist: “There’s always the chance that your teeth didn’t settle into their ideal position. Let’s examine your teeth to see what’s going on. If you require additional movement, I could make you a series of refinement aligners. Come on in so we can discuss your concerns. Let’s come up with a solution to improve your new smile.”

Dentists are medical professionals who are trained to care about their patients. Their reputation and license depends on it. Companies and corporations care about profits and income statements. If you’re comfortable being a customer, then you’ll do fine with do-it-yourself programs like Smile Direct Club™. Just don’t expect the same level of personal care and attention to detail as you would from your neighborhood dentist. If you’re seeking one-on-one personal care by a doctor, then we recommend that you see your local dentist or orthodontist instead.

Is there another way to get clear aligners from your dentist at a comparable price?

There are a couple of ways to go about getting affordable clear aligners directly from your local dentist or orthodontist. Of course, you’ll have to do some research beforehand. Here are a few different ways you could straighten your smile with dentist-delivered clear aligners at a price comparable to Smile Direct Club ™ :

(1) Invisalign® Express

One option to get affordable clear aligners from your local dentist is to see if you qualify for Invisalign® Express. Invisalign® charges dentists based on how many clear aligners it takes to straighten your smile. If straightening your smile is simple, requiring just a few clear aligners, then you may qualify for Invisalign® Express. You still need to do some shopping around to get a good price on any Invisalign® program. To get started, find a local dentist or orthodontist near you to see if you qualify for Invisalign® Express.

(2) ClearCorrect™

Another affordable clear aligner treatment option is to go with an Invisalign alternative like ClearCorrect™. ClearCorrect™ is a cost-effective clear aligner system used as a substitute to Invisalign®. Plus, ClearCorrect™ clear aligners usually cost 10 to 20% less than Invisalign® clear aligners. While not nearly as expensive as Invisalign®, Clear Correct™ clear aligners are still priced a bit higher than Smile Direct Club™ .

(3) Even28 at-home™

smile-direct-club-alternative-even28-at-home

A final option to affordable clear aligner therapy is to see if you qualify for Even28 at-home™ clear aligners. Even28 at-home™ is perfect for those who would otherwise qualify for Smile Direct Club™ but prefer receiving treatment from a local dentist. Your dentist will perform a diagnosis, take your impressions and design your clear aligner program. The rest of your treatment can be completed at the comfort and convenience of your own home. As a bonus, you will have access to your Even28 provider dentist should you ever need them. The best part about Even28 at-home™ is that it is priced similarly to Smile Direct Club™ but without the risks and dangers of do-it-yourself clear aligner programs. Even28 at-home™ has a fixed cost of $1,995 which is similar to Smile Direct Club™’s price.