The Fall of Mail-Order Clear Aligners: The Importance of Visiting an Orthodontist in Person

A doctor showing a x-ray of a patient, The Importance of Visiting an Orthodontist in Person

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In recent years, mail-order clear aligners have surged in popularity, offering what appeared to be a convenient and cost-effective solution for straightening teeth. The appeal lies in avoiding frequent office visits and undergoing treatment at home. Despite its apparent convenience, clear aligners by mail pose significant risks and limitations. This underscores the importance of consulting an orthodontist in person.

The Advantages of Visiting an Orthodontist in Person

Orthodontic treatment involves much more than merely shifting teeth into alignment. It requires a comprehensive understanding of dental health, jaw structure, and facial aesthetics. Here’s why visiting an orthodontist in person is crucial:

1. Personalized Treatment Plans:

Orthodontic treatment should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual’s dental anatomy and alignment issues are unique, requiring a personalized treatment plan tailored to their needs. An in-person consultation allows orthodontists to conduct a thorough examination. Examinations include X-rays and impressions, to accurately assess the patient’s dental condition and craft a customized treatment plan.

2.  Professional Oversight:

At Ortho Specialists, Your Treatment is Backed by a Team of Professionals

A group of people in blue uniforms, At Ortho Specialists, Your Treatment is Backed by a Team of Professionals

While mail-order clear aligners claim to offer professional treatment remotely, this method lacks a critical medical ingredient — in-person and instantaneous treatment. Regular in-person check-ups allow an orthodontist to safely monitor the patient’s progress and make necessary adjustments during the appointment. Orthodontists may need to make adjustments as teeth shift, and the orthodontist must closely monitor issues like bite alignment and gum health.

3. Addressing Underlying Issues:

Orthodontic treatment isn’t solely about achieving a straighter smile; it also involves addressing underlying dental issues that may impact oral health. An orthodontist can identify and address issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, or TMJ disorders, which may complicate clear aligner treatment. These underlying problems can worsen without proper evaluation, leading to potential complications.

4. Ensuring Safe and Effective Treatment:

   Orthodontic treatment carries inherent risks if not overseen by a qualified professional. In-person visits allow orthodontists to ensure that treatment progresses safely and effectively, minimizing the risk of complications such as root resorption, enamel damage, or bite misalignment. Furthermore, orthodontists can provide timely intervention if issues arise during treatment, preventing potential setbacks or adverse outcomes.

5. Patient Education and Support:

Beyond the physical aspects of treatment, visiting an orthodontist in person provides invaluable patient education and support opportunities. Orthodontists can offer guidance on proper oral hygiene practices, dietary considerations, and lifestyle modifications to optimize treatment outcomes and maintain oral health long-term. Additionally, direct interaction fosters a supportive patient-provider relationship, empowering individuals to participate actively in their orthodontic journey.

AAO Issues Guidance to SmileDirectClub Patients

A close-up of a bankruptcy, SmileDirectClub

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is offering guidance to patients impacted by the recent closure of SmileDirectClub and patients approached by other “mail order” teeth straightening companies. Given Smile Direct Club’s abrupt shutdown, patients have been left with questions and concerns about their ongoing orthodontic treatment.

“The best thing SmileDirectClub patients can do at this point is to book an in-person exam with a licensed orthodontist in their area,” said Myron Guymon, President of the AAO. “Most SmileDirectClub patients have not had an x-ray or in-person exam, which are critical to ensuring an accurate diagnosis and safe and effective treatment plan.”

  1. At your appointment, share all concerns and past treatments. Feel confident knowing that an orthodontist has specialized education and experience and has helped patients through similar situations.
  2. If finances are a concern, ask about complimentary consultations offered by many AAO orthodontists when booking the appointment.
  3. Beware of other mail-order orthodontic companies feeding on SmileDirectClub’s failure.  AAO emphasizes the importance of visiting an orthodontist for in-person examinations and X-rays before starting orthodontics with a provider to avoid irreparable harm.
  4. For patients with complaints, including those who may be unable to contact the dentist supervising their SmileDirectClub treatment, AAO recommends contacting state dental boards with individual complaint processes for dental treatments. For a list of state dental boards, visit

Conclusion:  Choosing In-Person Orthodontic Care for a Confident Smile

A person smiling at camera, Choosing In-Person Orthodontic Care for a Confident Smile

In conclusion, mail-order clear aligners cannot substitute the expertise and personalized care an orthodontist provides in person. Orthodontic treatment is a multifaceted process that requires professional oversight, personalized attention, and comprehensive evaluation to ensure optimal outcomes and long-term oral health. Recent events, such as the shutdown of Smile Direct Club due to regulatory concerns and patient complaints, highlight the potential risks associated with remote orthodontic treatment.

By prioritizing in-person consultations with qualified orthodontic specialists, individuals can embark on their journey to a straighter, healthier smile with confidence and peace of mind, knowing that their treatment is in the hands of trusted professionals who prioritize patient safety and well-being. At Orthodontic Specialists, we’re dedicated to being here for you every step of the way, ensuring your smile transformation is effective, safe, and fulfilling.

Our team is concerned for the victims of the Smile Direct Club’s closure. We stand ready to service you. Contact us now for a Free Consultation.


Your Friendly Team at
Ortho-Specialists of
St. George, Utah

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