EXPERT VIEW - Graham Gardner
The rise in the direct application of aligner orthodontic treatment from aligner manufacturer to patient has, and is, causing concern amongst the dental profession. Graham Gardner gives us the considered opinion of the EAS.
So, what is “do-it-yourself” aligner orthodontics.
DIY orthodontics uses clear aligners that a patient can order and buy online without visiting an orthodontic or dental practice. The aligners are sent to the patient by mail.
The patient fills in a form online and pays a fee to get a ‘DIY’ kit. This will involve the patient using a DIY impression kit to take impressions of their teeth at home, or in some cases going to a “scanning centre,” often located in large metropolitan areas, where a dental scan is carried out by nursing staff.
Photographs of the mouth are also requested.
Some of the companies offering these DIY treatments advertise that the ensuing treatment plan is seen by an associated dental professional but this is not always the case. Where this does take place, the dental professional does not examine the patient’s mouth and teeth, but reviews the impressions and photographs and suggests a treatment plan.
The patient is then sent the treatment plan and the aligners are posted to patient with interactions on how to fit them and how often to change the aligners which ranges between one to two-week change. The results achieved are final and if further improvement required then patient pays for more aligners planned and manufactured in the same way. All without the patient seeing either an orthodontist or a dentist face-to-face.
All of this done at a much-reduced financial cost to the patient!
What’s the problem/ problems.
1. Is the patient and the health of the patient’s mouth suitable for tooth movement?
2. Is the proposed treatment plan going to leave the patient’s teeth in a healthy position and with a healthy occlusion?
3. Is a quick “fix” the correct answer when there may be other options to treatment?
4. Is unsupervised treatment, of any problem, advisable?
So, what does EAS and some of our esteemed colleagues have to say.
We recommend that patients see an experienced/trained clinician, face-to-face, who will be able to undertake a full clinical / orthodontic assessment and discuss the patient’s individual orthodontic and dental requirements. The patients can be re-assured that all appropriate and available options are considered. Choosing treatment by an experienced clinician will allow treatment to be carefully monitored and that should any problems arise with treatment, these issues can be properly addressed.
EAS’s view is to strongly advise the public not to undertake such DIY orthodontics. As health care professionals, we should be focussing on responsible patient care and application of sound orthodontic principles, and discouraging the quick fix DIY orthodontics.