After 7 hours, 3 trips to Home Depot, a sore back, filthy clothes, and only $175 spent, I stood back and admired my accomplishment. I did it. Standing in the middle of my kitchen, I proudly admired my newly installed faucet glistening in its glory. A faucet never looked so beautiful.

As a member of Generation Y, I have fully embraced the Do-It-Yourself revolution spearheaded by my buddies YouTube and Google. However, drawing the line on where our DIY efforts should end sometimes is unclear in today’s day.

Many of us have seen the trendy ads for mail-order aligners such as Smile Direct Club or Candid, promising “straight teeth in 6 months, for 60% less, with no doctor visits”, or “Nighttime aligners only”. Take your own impression or some to our Smile Shops, snap a few selfies, and have your teeth straightening trays delivered to your door. Sounds amazing, and almost too good to be true!

Before you consider do-it-yourself, direct to consumer orthodontic treatment, there are a few things that you should know.

  • Records
    • When you go to an orthodontist, a detailed set of X-rays, photographs, and impressions are taken and evaluated in order to craft a personalized plan that best suites you.
    • Direct to consumer orthodontic treatment does not involve an in-person evaluation, requires no X-rays or personalized treatment plan by an orthodontist.
  • Supervision
    • An orthodontist is trained to align all of your teeth, not just the ones in the front. In-office supervision by a trained professional is a very important part of creating a beautiful healthy smile.
    • Direct to consumer orthodontic treatment requires no supervision throughout treatment and if questions arise during your treatment you will not have a doctor to direct them to.
  • Biology
    • When an orthodontist moves your teeth, there is biologic breakdown and rebuilding of your bone. Underlying bone, gums and developing teeth should be healthy when teeth are moved towards a stable functional bite.
    • Direct to consumer orthodontic treatment does not consider your pre-existing biology, you may have underlying gum disease, preexisting cavities, or problems with your bite that should be addressed prior to orthodontic treatment.
  • Training
    • An orthodontist undergoes two to three years of additional training after dental school, studying the growth of the jaws, the development and alignment of teeth, and how to create confident, healthy smiles for you and your children.

As a proud member of the DIY revolution, and as an orthodontist, I am excited about the innovation that is happening in dentistry. However, direct to consumer orthodontic treatment is an innovation to be cautious of. Although the aligners delivered to your door will move teeth to a straighter position, unsupervised treatment can potentially harm your overall dental health by causing irreversible and costly damage. As a board-certified orthodontist, I recommend a consultation with a trained professional before starting any orthodontic treatment.

I know that comparing faucet installation to orthodontics is not a perfect analogy, but I learned a few lessons the hard way from my experience. Luckily, my house didn’t undergo any irreparable damage, but I was at the chiropractor the next day. Also, 3 years later the faucet still leaks…

I think it’s time to call a plumber.

Dr. Zachary Berman, DDS is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and founder of Embrace Family Orthodontics in Hawthorne NJ. He specializes in braces and aligner orthodontics for all ages. Call to schedule your consultation.

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