Invisible Aligners - The choice is Clear. Or is it?
Recent Press Releases and Negative News Articles for Clear Aligners
There has been so much bad press this week with regard to direct-to-consumer or mail-order aligners for teeth straightening, a new initiative being introduced into Australia. We have seen this trend before with pop-up whitening clinics and the like. It doesn’t always end well.
With a flood of new clear aligner products coming on to the market in Australia, the choice is murkier than ever. We have over 10 years of experience in the use of dental aligners and have seen a lot of changes and new players in the marketplace.
Invisalign and Simply Beautiful Smiles
Our delivery of clear orthodontic teeth aligners is backed by Invisalign. We are a registered, clinically trained and approved Invisalign provider. At Simply Beautiful Smiles, our treatment plans, without exception, are validated, reviewed and undergo assisted treatment plan design, by an independent panel of specialist orthodontists. This orthodontic panel provides hundreds and hundreds of Invisalign cases a year to their own patients in addition, so the combined accumulated experience is tremendous. This is an additional service that we provide, which adds a small premium to the treatment delivery cost of Invisalign, but the back end time saved in treatment and additional specialist review during treatment is well worth it.
Time in Treatment
Time in treatment is a significant factor. Whilst the specialist panel review takes a little longer to get the product to the consumer once the patient has decided to commence with treatment, it can often save months of wearing aligners after the treatment has started. Whilst it may be exciting to get started with treatment, the reality is that treatment is uncomfortable, even with clear aligners, so the less time in treatment, the better. Using the orthodontic panel, there is less risk of unintended consequences, which can have disastrous results requiring extra months or even years more in treatment.
Invisalign – the Original Clear Aligners
Invisalign is the original clear aligner system and has been around since 1999, launched in Australia in 2002, and has now successfully treated over 6 million cases. There are numerous alternative clear aligner systems now coming to market as previous patents on aligner software and manufacturing came to an end.
After maintaining a watchful eye on the modality of Invisalign and it’s success rate, we moved to introduce Invisalign to our practice in 2008, as an adjunct to our cosmetic dental practice, as sometimes orthodontic treatment is required before attempting further cosmetic dentistry.
We are always on the lookout for new and better ways to assist our patients with cutting edge excellence in dental care. These new to market systems need to be approached with caution until their software and virtual treatment planning algorithms have a proven track record. Sometimes newer is not always better.
Direct-to-Public Clear Aligners
Recently, a newcomer to the field of clear aligner systems is marketing and providing a direct-to-consumer experience, for significantly less cost, direct to your home. In a news article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Instagram influencers under scrutiny for teeth straightener push, SmileDirectClub reportedly made the following statement :
“SDC is disrupting the dental and orthodontic industries in Australia. The cost to patients is significantly lower than the cost of aligner therapy at traditional brick-and-mortar dental or orthodontic practices. SDC enables a large segment of the population to have access to orthodontic treatment, which they otherwise may not have as a result of cost, location and/or time.”
From Our Own Experience
With all the experience we have as dental aligner providers and dental professionals, these Invisalign cases are still difficult, and experience really does matter. Remote or virtual delivery of self- administered and self-monitored dental aligner treatment will, we believe, have a future fraught with disappointments for many patients and a frustrating influx of cases requiring remedial referral to dentists and orthodontists.
Time will tell. For failed cases, the extra cost and time involved (not to mention the time and money already essentially wasted), will be a significant additional cost to treatment. As I find in my own practice, when patients accept short-cuts from other providers and come bitterly disappointed to our office for remediation of either “cosmetic dentistry” and/or implant dentistry, they wished they had come to us first and not gone for the ‘cheaper” option. Oftentimes as with anything, “cheaper” can turn out to be far more expensive.
Points to Consider
As orthodontic treatment, including aligner treatment, makes permanent changes to your teeth and bone supporting tissues, patients contemplating dental aligner treatment should consider the following when making an informed decision about their dental care.
- Ask about the experience of your dental provider.
- Ask about the longevity and proven record of the aligner delivery system.
- Ask what backup or support the dentist has access to.
- Ask also what back up is provided by the aligner manufacturer.
- Ask what happens if the treatment does not progress as prescribed. How is the treatment plan rectified, adjusted or modified to suit the changing environment or goals of the patient? The goals of the treatment can often change. Individual circumstances and unidentifiable forces upon moving teeth frequently require tweaks to the original treatment plan or virtual treatment simulation.
- What happens if I, the patient, am not compliant, what harm can I do to myself?
- What happens if I change my mind part way through the treatment?
- Ask about retaining your teeth in the new smile position. What are your choices? Teeth will move after treatment if left to their own devices, and some sort of retainer is required to prevent natural relapse.
- Ask exactly what the treatment fee covers. Often additional aligners or changes to the treatment plan incur additional fees. Eg. Cost of retainers at the end of treatment are often a separate fee. At SBS our treatment fee is all inclusive.
- What happens if I lose my aligner? Invisalign charge a small fee per replacement aligner to the dentist. This is normally passed on to the patient.
Dental orthodontic or aligner treatment is a complex and often difficult medical procedure. It involves the careful manipulation of teeth, gums, bones, nerves and blood vessels. DIY dentistry, including mail order aligners is not something to be taken lightly, or without careful research ,consideration and advice. What initially may appear as a cost saving benefit may just be a mirage that leads to disappointment and sometimes permanently damaged oral health.
As always, consult an appropriate, experienced health professional before contemplating any medical procedure.