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When it comes to straightening teeth, patients now have several options. A number of companies are selling at-home orthodontic treatment, offering an alternative to traditional orthodontic care at a fraction of the cost. Too good to be true? We’ll let you be the judge. While many of these clubs are advertising straight smiles and shorter treatment lengths, patients may have to sacrifice quality and even a few extra dollars in the long run. Below, we’ll touch on a few key factors that set traditional braces apart from mail order treatment programs.

Set up for success – or not.

Orthodontic treatment is an investment that reaps long term rewards. And like any successful investment, there is a great deal of prep-work that needs to be done. Before brackets are placed or Invisalign trays are ordered, our medical team takes a detailed scan of your mouth during your first visit, highlighting any misalignments, crooked teeth, over/under bites, crowding, or excessive spacing. From there, a licensed orthodontist will determine the best course of treatment to address those specific needs. If you are curious into what all happens during that first visit, we’ve written a post about that here.

Mail order systems work a bit differently. After paying a start-up fee, patients are mailed a do-it-yourself impression kit where they take an impression of their teeth using a molding substance that is later used to create aligners specific to their teeth. This process can lead to high user-error and result in inaccurate aligners and mediocre results – causing the need for multiple treatments. Because there are no in-office visits, the only contact available to patients is a chat room or customer service bot.

Quality over speed.

When it comes to any kind of medical treatment, proper care should never be sacrificed. Although choosing the traditional route of orthodontic care may take longer, it gives patients the smile they want at the end of one treatment. And at Birmingham Orthodontics, those results come with a Lifetime Smile Guarantee. So, if patients run into an issue down the road after treatment, we fix it at a substantial discount. At-home orthodontic treatments don’t come with that same promise. Despite the seemingly large discounts and shorter treatment lengths, mail order aligners can’t help everyone. These aligners are designed to treat basic orthodontic cases and are unable to tackle more complex issues. If any of those aligners are not created properly or get lost during treatment, patients end up spending more money and time to complete treatment and get the smile they want.

One of the major perks of traditional braces is the ability to have a licensed orthodontist by your side throughout the course of treatment. This ensures the highest quality of care for each patient. Mail order systems don’t offer that same benefit. Rather than an experienced doctor who has studied and worked in the orthodontic field for years, patients of these clubs are given access to a “licensed professional” over cyberspace. There is no way of knowing if they are sending concerns or questions to an actual orthodontist. We prefer an in-person relationship. That’s why patients are introduced to their orthodontist during their free consultation.

Invisalign wins.

Invisalign is the international leader in straightening teeth with aligners. The virtually invisible orthodontic treatment option provides patients with clear and flexible aligners that help move misaligned or crooked teeth into their proper place. DIY programs advertise themselves as a cheaper alternative to Invisalign, however, they fail to measure up to the world’s most popular aligner when the details of treatment are brought to light. Invisalign is offered to patients through a licensed orthodontist. Meaning, patients have an expert doctor by their side throughout the course of treatment. Invisalign aligners are also customized for each patient using a high precision, Invisalign-certified iTero scanner, rather than a messy impression mold.

It’s also important to note that Invisalign includes at least 50 and up to 100 trays throughout treatment, while at-home systems offer up to 12. If Invisalign can’t straighten a smile with typically 12 aligners, there’s no way these clubs can. If you’re wanting to learn more about Invisalign, we’ve written a post about there here.

Where Do We Go From Here…

No matter which path of orthodontic treatment you choose, scheduling a consultation with a licensed doctor is the best way to start your journey to a straight smile. At Birmingham Orthodontics, we offer that first visit for free at any of our four convenient locations. We know orthodontic treatment can be a lot to think about and that there are several unknowns about the processes. We’re here to answer any questions or concerns. If you have more questions about how traditional braces compare to at-home systems, you can find a detailed side-by-side comparison chart here

Schedule your first visit today 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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