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The dangers of at-home braces. Are they safe?

7th December 2021

The advancements in orthodontic treatment over the last decade have meant that more discreet orthodontic options are now available, such as clear aligner systems like Invisalign. Aligners quickly rose in popularity, however, over the past few years there has also been a rise in at-home aligner treatment heavily promoted across the Internet, television and even TFL tube adverts!

What are at-home aligners?

Aligner products and materials can be costly, so some companies have started offering cheaper alternatives directly to consumers through mail order. The company sends you a kit to take your own impressions, which is then reviewed by a technician (usually someone underqualified), who determines if the customer is suitable for the treatment. If approved, a set of aligners are sent to the patient with instructions of how long to wear them.

These companies promise a beautiful smile without the ‘hassle’ and ‘inconvenience’ of dental appointments, and they are significantly cheaper, which makes them very appealing to consumers.

Why are at-home aligners dangerous?

Most dental professionals speak out against mail-order aligner companies as they pose several health risks and dangers to patients.

No Consultation

As with at-home aligners, you don’t have a consultation with a dental professional, serious oral health problems, such as gum disease or cavities, can be overlooked. We as dentists and orthodontists, identify and address any oral health problems before starting to move any teeth, using clinical examinations and x-rays. To do any sort of tooth movement without the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist is extremely risky.

No supervision during treatment

The lack of supervision by a qualified dentist or orthodontist means that your treatment won’t be monitored to make sure your teeth are moving in the correct, safest and most efficient way. Dentists and orthodontists will adjust your treatment plan as needed along the way, but this cannot happen with at-home aligners.


Damage to oral health

Orthodontics is very complicated and if done incorrectly can result in permanent damage to your oral health, root damage, gum recession and even tooth loss. Never put your oral health at risk and always consult a qualified dentist or orthodontist if you’re considering clear aligner treatment.

Inaccurate fit

We take impressions (digitally or traditional putty) of your teeth, which takes a lot of training and practice, ensuring we get an accurate impression of your teeth to ensure comfort and a great fit of the aligners. DIY impressions for at-home aligners are often not exact as it needs to be, as patients are not qualified or trained to take detailed impressions. This can lead to a lot of pain, discomfort and can influence on the treatment results.

The finished result

Before finishing aligner treatment, we make sure the jaws are aligned, the bite is accurate, and the patient is happy with their smile. We often make final adjustments at the end to ensure the above. As at-home aligners are not supervised, you won’t be able to ensure that your bite is accurate, jaws aligned and if you’re unhappy with your teeth, will most likely have to pay for another course of treatment.

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