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Holly Sumbler looks at the recent Safe Brace campaign by The Oral Health Foundation and shares some of their advice.
As the demand for adult orthodontics continues to rise, there has also been an increase in DIY orthodontics. That is to say, companies offering clear aligners that you can buy online and are then sent out to you in the post. You receive kit which allows you to take an impression of your teeth at home. Following which you are sent a treatment plan and your aligners (which are made from your impression). This all happens without having to step foot inside a dental surgery and without having a consultation with a dentist or orthodontist. This may seem like a modern and convenient way to obtain orthodontic treatment, particularly if you have a phobia of visiting the dentist. But is it safe?
Before commencing treatment to re-align your teeth, you should always seek professional advice from a trained dentist or orthodontist. A face-to-face consultation enables the dental practitioner to check your teeth and jaw to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for orthodontic treatment. Not everyone is a good candidate for orthodontic treatment, and sometimes further dental treatment is required before starting.
If you are having treatment with an orthodontist or dentist, then they should regularly monitor the tooth movements against your treatment plan to ensure that your treatment is progressing as it should. If any problems arise during treatment, then treatment can be paused and the issue can be addressed before it gets any worse. Sometimes changes need to be made during treatment, such as if problems with your bite begin to develop or worsen.
Many people are tempted with DIY orthodontic because they offer a cheaper solution than traditional orthodontic treatment, which can be very expensive. However, it is worth doing your research and getting advice from a professional. Many orthodontists will also offer a free initial consultation so you can explore your options and get an idea of the cost before committing to the course of treatment.
Jonathan Sandler, President of the British Orthodontic Society says:
“In my professional opinion, if you start any tooth-straightening treatment without having a suitably trained professional take the time to examine you and make appropriate recommendations, you could be in danger of having serious conditions missed. For me, one of the issues with ‘DIY braces’ is that it offers just one narrow solution when there may be a more appropriate one for the patient. The value of ‘informed choice’ cannot be over-estimated.”
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says:
“As the demand for adult orthodontics grows, so do the options for patients. We are seeing a growth in online companies offering tooth-straightening treatments at significantly reduced prices. For many patients, it will feel like a sensible, consumer-savvy choice. But this may not be the case. My view is that orthodontics should always involve face-to-face contact with a trained professional. This is to ensure patient safety and the most effective treatment.”