What should I know about at-home aligner systems?

You have probably seen advertisements focusing attention on at-home aligners. These are the aligners that come directly to the consumer through the mail. Although it sounds very convenient, there are limitations to these aligner systems. Read on to find out why at-home aligners aren’t always a good idea. We will also explain why we feel it is better to work with a trained orthodontist who will closely monitor your specific treatment and progress.

How At-Home Aligners are Designed to Work
Treatment with home straightening systems begins in one of two ways: Either you visit a retail location where they scan your mouth and send results to a company, or you receive an impression kit in the mail, take molds of your teeth and send them in yourself. In some cases, you’ll also take your own photos of your teeth and upload them to an online account.

The home aligner company decides on the final positions of your teeth and makes your plastic trays. After a month or so, the trays will arrive in the mail and you’ll follow instructions for how long to wear each set. You may be asked to send progress pictures, however you will never meet a dental professional in person. This last point is one of the biggest differences between at-home aligner companies and in-office aligners, such as Invisalign.

The Downside to At- Home Aligners
While these systems may seem convenient, there are plenty of downsides to consider.

Limited Diagnostic Tools
The diagnosis and treatment planning steps are the key to successful orthodontic treatment. Remote providers don’t take x-rays or even see your teeth in person. They must rely wholly upon the records they receive from you, which won’t show gum health, bony support, or jaw function. It is important to see an orthodontist in person, because they are trained to examine your teeth from all these angles. A proper treatment plan depends on a proper and thorough diagnosis.

Limited Treatment Capability
Aligners by mail can’t fix severe crowding, spacing, eruption issues, tooth size issues, large rotations, uneven wear, excessive gum tissue, or bite problems. You also do not have the option of a fixed retainer when finished.
They may look similar, but at-home aligners are not the same as in-office aligners such as Invisalign. Invisalign makes use of attachments, elastics, and other auxiliaries to make treatment more efficient and more complete.

When you seek orthodontic treatment at Bankhead, our experts will work to develop the best approach for fixing every issue. In some cases, they may recommend traditional braces or another device in combination with aligners.

They May Pose Safety Risks
Both the American Dental Association and American Orthodontics Association have warned that at-home aligner kits may pose safety risks since a dental professional does not look in your
mouth before or during treatment. You become more susceptible to tooth and gum disease while wearing any orthodontic appliance, and the aligners may be trying to move the teeth into an unhealthy position. Having a professional monitor your teeth is essential.

Personal Customer Service is Key for Orthodontics to Work
As providers of in-office aligners, we consult with each patient about their wants and needs. We will help you determine if aligner therapy is right for you. We are directly involved in designing the aligners and track our patients’ progress at each visit. We also know that adjustments will need to be made along the way and we account for those refinements from the beginning.

If you want to customize your treatment, our doctors are happy to work through your wish list until you are satisfied. Additionally, we will work with your dentist to coordinate your orthodontic treatment with your dental needs. In many cases, we know your dentist personally! If there are any questions, our patients know just where to come for help – and if they need to come in, we make them a priority.

At-home aligner companies can’t offer that same kind of face-to-face customer service.

Money Saved Can Turn into Money Lost
If you don’t get the results you were hoping for after you finish wearing at-home aligners, you may have to pay for more trays, or be satisfied with an inferior result. When you come to Bankhead, we will continue your treatment until you achieve a smile you’ll be proud to show off for years!

Questions About the Difference Between Invisalign and At-Home Aligners? Just Ask!
We’re always happy to explain why working with our Experts in the Art of Orthodontics is better than working with someone you’ll never see. We pride ourselves on building relationships with our patients so that any time during or after orthodontic treatment, they can come see us for help – or just to say hello! So if you’ve been considering clear aligners to straighten your teeth, give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat!


If you or your child needs orthodontic treatment, work with the experts at Bankhead Orthodontic Specialists. Serving the St. Louis, MO, Metro area as well as southeastern Illinois via six convenient locations, these trained specialists offer traditional, lingual and clear braces as well as Invisalign® to provide patients with highly customized solutions. Call (636) 978-8848 today to schedule a consultation, and visit the website for more information.

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