They are becoming increasingly popular: at-home teeth straightening treatments with clear aligners sold directly to the patient. People are saving big by cutting out that pesky middleman – the dentist! While it is very tempting to save money, the risks of straightening your teeth without a dentist’s supervision are not worth any amount of money!
Below, we will explain the reasons why having a dentist involved in your teeth straightening process is essential:
Confirming Dental Health Before Moving Teeth
There is a pretty straightforward rule when it comes to moving teeth: they have to be healthy first. We don’t move unhealthy teeth. Cosmetic procedures can never take priority over treating dental disease. There are health benefits of straightening teeth, but DIY and at-home straightening are strictly cosmetic. The changes in the bone surrounding each tooth required for moving them can cause major problems if that bone is not in good health. Patients with undiscovered gum disease can actually end up losing one or more teeth due to the pressures put on them during orthodontic movement.
While the internet is full of stories of people who have straightened their teeth at home, it is also full of dentist testimonials explaining how a patient severely damaged her teeth using at-home teeth straightening!
Confirming Jaw Health Before Changing the Bite
Any time you move the teeth, the bite changes. Even small changes in the bite can affect the jaw joints. A licensed dentist must closely monitor patients with unhealthy or at-risk joints throughout any teeth straightening process. Patients with TMJ problems are definitely not candidates for at-home teeth straightening.
Clear aligner therapies like Invisalign® and SmileDirectClub™ increase a person’s tendency to clench his or her teeth together. The added thickness of material between the teeth creates a “stress ball” effect, that makes the jaw muscles want to squeeze into them. This raises the risk for headaches, facial pain, and complications in the TMJ.
Planning the Tooth Movement
All teeth are not created equal. Some teeth are more difficult to move than others. Understanding root anatomy and periodontal health is instrumental in planning the movement of teeth. Because these at-home teeth straightening kits do not include a comprehensive dental evaluation, there is no way for the technicians who plan the movement of your teeth to intercept these complications.
Some dental restorations make certain teeth impossible to move. Without a dental evaluation and x-rays, a SmileDirectClub™ technician could unknowingly put movement forces on a dental implant, which could loosen it and possibly make it fail. Dental bridges are limited in what types of forces they can withstand. All of these possible complications are easily overlooked without a dentist’s direct supervision.
When a licensed dentist plans your tooth movement with clear aligner therapy, only movements that are both possible and predictable are undertaken. We work to preserve and protect your existing dental work when we are the ones planning your tooth movement.
Closely Monitoring Tooth Health
Moving the teeth with either clear aligners or traditional braces increases the risk for cavities. It is important for your dentist to be closely involved in the movement process so she can catch early warning signs of dental problems. When Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren see any red flags of a high risk for cavities, they will take preventive measures to help you fight those early cavities. They may add the CariFree product line to your oral hygiene regimen; they may recommend more frequent professional teeth cleanings with Phyllis and Nancy. Whatever it takes to stop cavities, we will do!
Wouldn’t it be the worst day ever to finish your teeth straightening, only to be told by your dentist that you have a mouth full of cavities? We can prevent that from happening by closely monitoring your tooth health throughout your straightening process.
Closely Monitoring Gum Health
In order for teeth to move properly and maintain good support from the bone and gums around them, good gum health is a necessity! Just like they catch early signs of cavity risk, Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren will catch any warning signs of gum disease. Most of the DIY teeth straightening “fails” you see online depict patients with gum disease who end up with severely loosened teeth after their at-home straightening attempt.
The forces of tooth movement plus the destructive forces of gum disease add up to some seriously bad news. We will never let it get to this point if we are closely monitoring your gum health.
When you straighten your teeth on your own, you miss out on the professional help when a problem arises. Sometimes the problems are small, like a rough edge of the aligner cutting your tongue. Other times, the problem is more significant, like a toothache or a tooth that will not move as it should.
When Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren straighten your teeth with Invisalign®, 100% success is their goal. They closely oversee the entire process and address any problems that come up during your treatment. Intercepting and correcting any problems as they arise is faster and easier than waiting until you are “done” with your straightening and have major problems to fix. Don’t let an at-home attempt cost you more in the long run.
Meeting Your Smile Goals
Because only licensed dentists truly understand the way teeth move, they are the only ones who can predictably achieve the goals you want. We also know how to keep your teeth where we put them so that your newly-straightened smile lasts forever!
Interested in Straightening Your Teeth the Right Way?
Call today to schedule an Invisalign® consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They are committed to doing all of the above tasks as they help you achieve the beautiful smile you’ve been dreaming of!