Online Clear Aligner Companies may not be so Transparent

Many clear aligner online companies (like SmileDirectClub, SnapCorrect, Orthly, Candid Co., Smilelove, etc.) make straightening/correcting your teeth sound so simple! They send you a kit and you merely take an impression of your teeth, perhaps a selfie, or you may go to a location and get scanned. Next, you receive aligners in the mail and after a few months, WOW, you have straight teeth! Why wouldn’t anyone want to do this?

Before you decide if you should start treatment with a direct-to-consumer clear aligner company you should take these factors into consideration. For example, some online companies do not even involve an in-person evaluation and/or in-person supervision throughout the course of your treatment. In-person evaluation and supervision can be extremely important, because there is so much more to creating a beautiful, healthy smile than just moving the part of the tooth you can see. Dental professionals consider the health of your bone, gums and where the roots are positioned within prior to moving teeth to a desired functional and esthetic position.

Consider this question before proceeding with online clear aligner companies: What other transforming medical treatment would you undertake without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?

Questions You Should Ask Before Committing to an Online Clear Aligner Solution

When you are researching your orthodontic treatment options (including online direct-to-consumer companies like SmileDirectClub, SnapCorrect, Orthly, Candid Co., Smilelove), here are a few questions you should ask:

1. As part of your treatment, are comprehensive diagnosis records like x-rays, pre-treatment photos and a clinical examination being taken/preformed prior to your treatment?

YES: Does the treatment and fee include x-rays of your teeth and jaws, a clinical examination of your teeth, bite, and jaw alignment? Does the treatment fee include taking photographs of your face, mouth, teeth and facial profile? Does the treatment fee include taking impressions or digital scans of your teeth?

NO: Are you comfortable starting orthodontic treatment without comprehensive diagnostic records such as the aforementioned? If you still want comprehensive diagnostic records, are you okay going to another dental professional to take them? If yes, what are the costs?

2. As part of your treatment fee, do you receive any in-person visits to a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office during your treatment?

YES: How many? What takes place during these in-person visits? Are they a licensed dentist or orthodontist?

NO: Are you comfortable with orthodontic treatment that does not involve any in-person visits with a dentist or orthodontist?

3. If a dentist or orthodontist is involved with your treatment, do you know the name of the dentist or orthodontist who is specifically involved in your case?

YES: What state is he or she licensed in? In what state does he or she practice in? What do other patients being treated by him or her have to say?

NO: Are you comfortable not being able to research your dentist’s or orthodontist’s, credentials, background, patient reviews, etc. prior to beginning treatment?

4. How do you know if your teeth and gums are healthy enough for treatment?

Who is making that decision and how is it being determined? When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned by a professional? If the decision maker is a dentist or orthodontist not associated with your treatment, who is paying for the assessment?

5. Who can you speak with at an online orthodontic company about your treatment?

What is his or her education, background and qualifications?

6. Who is responsible for detecting any issues that may occur during your orthodontic treatment?

Is it you? If it is a doctor not associated with your treatment, who pays for the check-ups?

7. If an issue does arise, how will it be handled and who will be responsible for handling it?

8. If a doctor is involved in your orthodontic treatment, how can you contact him or her over the course of your treatment?

9. If an emergency arises, does the company have a dentist or orthodontist in your area that you can see in-person?

If not, who will cover the costs associated with seeing a dentist or orthodontist in your area?

10. If you are injured or have another dispute involving your orthodontic treatment, how is it handled (litigation, arbitration, etc.)?

11. If you are injured or have a dispute involving your orthodontic treatment, what rights do you have against the person or company involved in your orthodontic treatment?

Are you asked to sign any forms that seek to release them from liability?

Your Healthcare Decisions Are Very Important Personal Decisions

Keep in mind that orthodontic treatment is not a product or device – orthodontic treatment is a professional, medical service. When your care is personally supervised by a dental professional, you are assured that your doctor has spent years focused on providing the best treatment possible for their patients.