A few patients have recently bought up the DIY aligners heavily marketed on television, radio, social media, podcasts, and in print.
The 2 main contenders are Smile Direct Club and Candid.
They offer similar services without the guidance of a dentist/orthodontist. Smile Direct was the first of the DIY aligner companies and like Candid offers consumers a mail order impression kit to take their own models, which get mailed and reviewed by an orthodontist.
A treatment plan is formulated and if a consumer accepts it, trays are mailed directly to the consumer to be worn on their own without guidance from a dental provider.
The company focuses on marketing the simplicity of use and lower cost.
I believe tooth movement and one’s occlusion (bite) are nothing to be played with. For every dollar you may save now, you will pay infinitely more to fix damage to your TMJ and bite.
Until recently, Invisalign owned shares of Smile Direct and was milling the aligners for them in their facility using the older Invisalign technology which I can attest was an inferior product.
As a dentist, I am occasionally asked about these companies, especially now that they have beautiful storefront retail spaces very close to my home and office in NYC.
I tell consumers to be careful as DIY orthodontics is a risky game to play.
The DIY aligners are for simple and moderate cases and offer no way of checking if the teeth are moving correctly and not harming your functionality and periodontal health. I currently have no patients using them.
Most people who are seeing a dentist regularly value professional supervision and expertise. The DIY aligners market to people who do not see a dentist regularly and often don’t want to. They also target people who want to save on healthcare and don’t value the role of a dental provider.
The long-term effects of the DIY aligner movement are hard to evaluate as of yet because the dental damage doesn’t happen right away. Improper movement of teeth can cause TMJ problems, airway problems, bite issues, and periodontal issues.