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Clear aligners to straighten teeth. Are they the same everywhere?

Many new companies are popping up and selling clear aligners to patients. Some patients can get certain brands from their orthodontist or dentist’s office; and some are sold online or in retail stores. But do they all work the same? Which route do you choose?

When looking for a provider, you should ask yourself, do I know the person who is in charge of my treatment plan? Many of the online companies report having a dental professional take care of treatment planning your case, but do you know the name of your doctor? Do they take x-rays before starting treatment to assess your health? Are you able to speak with the doctor if you have a question about your case? If you cannot, you should really reconsider using this type of service. Yes, they are a less expensive option, but wouldn’t you like to meet your cardiologist before committing to open heart surgery?

Also, consider whether the treatment uses attachments. Why you ask? Simply because most of our teeth are pyramidal in shape and trying to keep them fitting into a wedge-shaped aligner is like squeezing a watermelon seed out between your fingers. Attachments are tooth colored glue bumps that are bonded to your teeth and act like handles for the aligners to grip your teeth and move them into the proper direction. They come in many shapes that serve different purposes. Some are designed to pull down teeth, rotate teeth and tip teeth. Without attachments, many tooth movements are very difficult to achieve. Orthodontists and dentists in an office setting use aligner companies that allow the use of attachments. With at home aligners, you do not have ability to put on your own attachments and therefore you will have less predictable tooth movement.

Quoted savings with online aligner therapies don’t always cover everything you need from the starting to finishing your treatment. Impressions kits to start your treatment can be an additional expense. Find out if the service you plan to use will cover for additional trays mid-treatment if you need further adjustments of your teeth. And finally, ask if they will cover retainers too. Be wary of a one size fits all length of treatment time. While only 6 months of treatment sounds great, the length of time really depends on how much work needs to be done, and additional treatment will incur additional fees. You only ever get one set of teeth so be sure to make an informed decision.

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