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Over the past few years, there’s been a rise in the number of businesses that offer so-called at-home orthodontics treatment—alternatives to traditional treatment by an orthodontist. You’ve probably seen the ads for these clubs. They send a kit that lets you take a mold of your mouth at home, and from the mold, they create some trays, or aligners, to wear that will move your teeth. These companies seem to offer incredible benefits for a fraction of the cost, so we wanted to compare the service and care provided through these DIY treatments.


 At-home aligners  Birmingham Orthodontics
 Medical professional directing treatment  None  Team of doctors overseen by a  board certified orthodontist
 Length of treatment  6 months  18 months to 2 years
 Price  1/2 the cost of traditional  treatment  variable depending on treatment  time
 Starter kit cost  $80-100  Free consultation
 Guarantee  None  Lifesmile Guarantee
 Number of aligners  12-15 (per purchase)  Up to 100 with Invisalign

Just as any reasonable consumer would be, you’re probably wary when something sounds too good to be true. And though we can’t speak to how these clubs run their businesses, the chart above raises enough questions to show the difference in quality of treatment and in the finished product.


Reason #1: There’s no substitute for a licensed orthodontist.  

For something as serious as orthodontic care, a licensed orthodontist is your best choice for getting the smile you’ve always wanted. If you sprain your ankle, or come down with the flu, where do you go? Hopefully, it’s to a doctor. Well, the same is true for your teeth. The realignment and straightening of your teeth is a serious medical procedure. It is not a set-it and forget-it process. These clubs say that your case may be reviewed by a “medical professional,” but the specifics are unclear. What if something goes wrong? Without the proper expertise, you could be doing more harm than good. Consider Invisalign. It’s an effective treatment that these clubs are trying to compare themselves to, but it’s one that is less common for dentists to do, instead referring their patients to us. Aligners are merely a tool, not a complete treatment—they require skilled doctors to put them to effective use.


Reason #2: Length of care

Every case and treatment plan is different. Sometimes the process takes 18 months and sometimes it’s longer. It’s a red flag when products claim to achieve results in 1/4 or 1/2 of the time. When we pull back the curtain, we learn that people often need to do two or more treatments of the DIY system. That doubles or triples the treatment time as well as the cost.


Reason #3: But it looks like it’s so much cheaper!

We’ll be straight with you. Some of these clubs and mail-order programs are marketed at a lower price than traditional braces. And while we offer the same kind of treatments for around the same cost, these programs are relatively designed for the “easy” cases.  But as we’ve discovered above, if your case is complex, you could need to purchase multiple treatments at additional, unexpected cost. At-home treatment options can only bring your teeth halfway there, but our team will carry you through the finish line holding the trophy of a straight smile.

And paying for Invisalign or braces might not be as hard as you think. Birmingham Orthodontics was founded with the goal of making treatment affordable without having to sacrifice quality. That’s why our full-time financial team works with your specific needs to create a plan that makes sense for you. We offer complete transparency—you’ll leave the no-risk consultation knowing exactly how much your treatment will cost.


Reason # 4: How much does it cost to get started?

If you buy into one of these clubs, the starter kit will cost you. We believe that when you’re still gathering info about treatment options, you should be able to learn what you need to know for free. Depending on the DIY program you go with, you’ll pay $80 to $100 just for the initial kit. Birmingham Orthodontics’ comprehensive, free consultation is part of the process. This includes x-ray imaging that provides a detailed look at jaw structure and growth patterns, as well as potential gum disease. And, most importantly, every free consultation comes with an in-person evaluation from one of our licensed orthodontists at any of our four convenient area locations.


Reason #5: So there’s no guarantee?

We don’t remove your aligners until you’re satisfied. As long as you’re compliant, there’s no extra charge (for taking longer). These at-home clubs don’t offer a guarantee for treatment or the results. We have a Lifetime Smile Guarantee, meaning that if you run into an issue down the road after having had treatment with us (say, if you’re not consistent with wearing your retainer), we’ll fix it at a substantial discount. And with our 5-Year Invisalign guarantee, you can feel confident that your treatment is a sound investment.


Reason #6: 12 trays versus 50 trays-how does that work?

Excellent question! The number of trays, or aligners, included in these treatments tosses up another red flag. Invisalign is the international leader in straightening teeth with aligners, and their treatment includes at least 50 and up to 100 trays. If they could do it with fewer trays at greater convenience, they would. If Invisalign can’t do it with 12 trays, what makes anyone else think they can?


Tell me more about this Invisalign

These DIY programs would have you think they’re an Invisalign alternative, but when you compare the process, they’re night and day. With mail-order clubs you have to do your own impressions and fittings—a procedure that can lead to costly errors. But with an Invisalign fitting at Birmingham Orthodontics, you’re given a comprehensive 3-D imaging scan and X-ray, plus a full evaluation from one of our orthodontists. And in addition to your virtually-invisible aligners, you get the personal and professional care needed from a licensed orthodontist to get the smile you’ve always wanted.


The Bottom Line

Whether you’ve considered one of these clubs before, or you’ve never even heard of this fad, you’re better off choosing someone with the experience and expertise needed to give you the smile you’ve always wanted. Get started on perfecting that smile today by setting up your free initial consultation , and Smile More with Birmingham Orthodontics.


At Birmingham Orthodontics, our mission is simple:  we create smiles.  Not only do we straighten the crooked grin, fix the bite, and adjust the jaw, we brighten yearbooks, and instill confidence. We also believe in our staff. Our culture of continuous learning drives us to host monthly training sessions for each team and bring in leading industry consultants to help keep us ahead of the curve.  Contact us for a free consultation, or with any questions you might have.


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