With the seemingly endless possibilities today with virtually everything, it can come as no surprise that you’ve got options when it comes to your orthodontic treatment path. Not only can you choose from a list of new and improved products, such as Invisalign clear aligners, you’re also able to choose between seeing an orthodontist in person or going at it alone. Sounds interesting, right? Well, you may want to think twice about trying to correct your smile without leaving home.
If you’re interested in orthodontic treatment and you’re asking yourself, “Should I get Invisalign or mail-order treatment?” you may want to read up on the facts first.
Seeing an Orthodontist for Invisalign
To determine if you are a candidate for Invisalign, it’s best to speak with a professional, who can evaluate your condition and give a proper diagnosis. Seeing an orthodontist is the best way to go about starting your orthodontic treatment, as you’re able to ask questions and discuss your options in person. Invisalign is a popular solution to many issues with the teeth, and is available in a variety of options, such as:
- Invisalign Full
- Invisalign Lite
- Invisalign Express
- Invisalign Teen
These different products go from one end of the spectrum to the other, treating severe to mild issues, but it’s best to let your orthodontist determine which product will be right for you. After it’s determined you’re a candidate, an orthodontist will take x-rays and digital images of your teeth, so any problems under the gums will be addressed and your aligners will fit you perfectly. This is really important because ill-fitting aligners can do more harm than good.
Invisalign treatment can also include Invisalign attachments, which are small tooth-colored bumps that are placed on the teeth to ensure the aligner stays in place. For some patients, they need this additional force to make sure teeth are moving into the desired position. These attachments serve as anchors for your aligners so they fit the teeth snugly. These attachments are useful in solving more complicated orthodontic issues such as tooth rotation, intrusion or extrusion. Once treatment is done the attachments can be simply polished off.
These attachments, which are necessary in fixing some orthodontic issues in less time, are not possible through mail order treatment, as an orthodontist has to put the attachments on the teeth.
About Mail Order Treatment
You may have seen advertisements about getting a perfect smile without leaving the comforts of home, using aligners that are similar to Invisalign. You’re set up with an orthodontic professional, who will oversee your treatment from afar and determine your treatment plan virtually, without having ever met you. You’re responsible for taking your own impressions, which are then used to make your aligners, and off you go…on your way to perfect teeth. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there are severe limitations to this type of treatment, and more accounts of problems are coming to the surface.
The Limitations of Mail-Order Treatment
Mail-order treatment can treat mild issues with the teeth and is not intended to treat severe bite issues or jaw problems. The problem with self-diagnosis is you may not be addressing an underlying issue that you may have, making treatment less effective. An in-person orthodontist is the only one who can diagnose your issue and come up with the right treatment plan for you.
There’s also less support with mail-order treatment, as you’re not able to physically see an orthodontist to discuss your treatment plan and your progress. True, you’re able to chat with an orthodontist virtually, but you’re unable to check in with them in person, making mail-order treatment a gamble.
Additionally, mail-order treatment doesn’t keep tabs on oral-health related issues that could side-track treatment. In-office visits and direct consultation with an orthodontist can make sure that you’re not at risk of getting a cavity and can monitor any changes in your gums to make sure your oral health is just as inline as your teeth.
Does Insurance Pay for Mail-Order Orthodontics?
While most private insurance that includes orthodontic coverage covers a substantial portion of Invisalign treatment, mail-order aligner brands may not be covered. This is mostly due to the fact that treatment is not directly overseen by a licensed orthodontist or practice. Some insurance plans may provide reimbursement for mail-order treatment, but this can vary from plan to plan and usually takes several months once treatment is complete. Some mail-order aligner companies do offer payment plans but this just spreads out the cost of treatment instead of lessening it.
Are Mail-Order Braces Cheaper than Invisalign?
While most mail-order brands advertise treatment for around $2,000, the fine print states everything you need for a successful treatment isn’t included. This means necessary parts of treatment that come standard with orthodontist-offered Invisalign treatment, like X-rays, diagnostics records, extra aligners, and cases aren’t included in the advertised price. This treatment doesn’t even include in-office supervision by a licensed orthodontist who can check on progress.
Mail-order aligners are typically used for less severe cases and are typically meant for shorter treatment times. If a patient needs slightly more detailed treatment and more time, the cost comes out to be nearly the same.
Another thing to keep in mind is while mail-order aligners are “cheaper,” they may also be made with cheaper materials. Invisalign’s patented material that makes sturdier aligners is not available to other aligner brands on the market. This means you’ll be sacrificing quality and potentially risking receiving sub-par treatment.
Your Best Option for Orthodontic Treatment
If you’re looking to get a beautiful smile, clear, plastic aligners are a proven way to get results; however, they should be prescribed by a professional who can evaluate your situation and determine if they will work for you. Trying to attempt orthodontic treatment on your own can be risky, and the results could be not what you expected. Take it from those who have done it before and have shared their stories. Stick with the professionals to get your perfect smile and trust in their expertise for the best results.