At-Home Teeth Straightening
Why choose Invisalign® when you can order a cheap, internet version of invisible aligners and do it yourself?
If you participate in any type of social media, it is likely that you have seen advertisements for at-home teeth straightening systems like Smile Direct Club™, Snap Correct™ and Straight Teeth Direct™. It seems as if everywhere you look, someone is promoting another DIY “teeth hack”. We understand how tempting it is to skip the dentist and save money. However, it is important that you know the dangers of do-it-yourself teeth straightening so that you do not cause irreversible damage to your teeth and jaws.
This article will address the significance of the dentist’s role in teeth straightening from start to finish, as well as the risks of moving the teeth without a dentist’s supervision.
1. Start: Before any teeth are moved, whether through traditional braces or invisible aligners, the first and most critical step in the process of evaluating the teeth is not measuring the crowding and spacing or checking the bite. It is determining the health and stability of all the teeth in a patient’s mouth. This process must involve an in-person evaluation by a licensed dentist, dental x-rays, and measurements of the gum and bone attachment to the teeth. Because this step is omitted from an at-home teeth straightening system, the result could be straight teeth that are riddled with cavities or loose from periodontal disease. Both of which would necessitate more extensive and more expensive dental treatment. Our goal for every patient is always a completely healthy smile, not just straight teeth.
a. Assessment of cavity risk – Before any teeth straightening, Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren will perform a thorough evaluation of your teeth in order to determine your risk for cavities. It is crucial to know where you start on the scale of cavity risk because all types of orthodontic treatment will increase that risk. If you fall into a high risk category, we will provide adjunctive therapy during your orthodontic treatment to prevent cavities while you are straightening and monitor your teeth closely during treatment.
b. Assessment of gum and bone stability – One of the most tragic phenomena we see in dentistry is a beautiful, straight, white smile built on a diseased, unstable foundation, where teeth are often loose and later lost. Keeping your teeth for a lifetime not only involves preventing cavities; it also requires healthy bone and gum tissue surrounding each tooth. This is never more important than during orthodontic treatment. The bone and gum tissue around a tooth must change and move with the movement of the tooth. A healthy jaw bone will reorganize and regrow around the new position of a tooth after it has been moved. An unhealthy bone will not regrow, leaving the tooth weakened and unstable. Orthodontic treatment done incorrectly can worsen an already unhealthy jaw bone.
2. During: While your teeth are in the process of moving, Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren monitor the progress of the movement as well as the maintenance of teeth, gum and bone health.
a. Monitoring the position of the teeth – Unfortunately, one of the pitfalls of orthodontic treatment is that teeth do not always go where we want them to go. In order to get the proper end result, the progress of movement should be closely evaluated at regular intervals throughout the process. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren will recognize a tooth that is getting off track and redirect it before any permanent damage is caused. Obviously, this would be impossible without a dentist supervising your treatment.
b. Maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and bone – Just as the initial evaluation of the health of the teeth, gums, and bone is crucial to orthodontic treatment, so is the maintenance of that health. At each progress check during your treatment, your dentist is in a position to discern any changes in your cavity risk or the stability of the gums and bone supporting your teeth. They can then guide you in the best way to reverse these changes while continuing in your orthodontic treatment.
a. The end result – There is no question that the end result of orthodontics supervised by a dentist is far superior to that of any DIY or at-home system. Because of Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren’s advanced training in teeth straightening, they know how to position not only the portion of teeth you can see, but also the root of the tooth underneath the gums. The position of the root affects the overall appearance of a tooth as well as the long-term stability of a tooth’s position.
b. Stability of final result – As noted above, orthodontics involves more than just moving the outer portion of the tooth. The way to obtain a straight, beautiful smile that will be stable and long-lasting is to ensure that the roots of the teeth are aligned properly in addition to the visible part of the teeth.
c. Retainers – At Designer Smiles, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to retainers. There are different types of retainers made of different types of materials. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren have experience in determining which retainer will give you the best long-term retention of your new smile.
The dentists at Designer Smiles have been creating beautiful smiles with Invisalign® for over 12 years. With advanced training and a commitment to continuing education, you are guaranteed to receive excellent care and the smile you’ve always wanted at the hands of Dr. Ann Haggard and Dr. Lauren Eichblatt. If you are interested in straightening your teeth, call our office today at (281) 338-9032 to schedule a consultation with our doctors.