The Truth About Mail Order Nightguards and Tooth Straightening Aligners
If you are like most of our patients, you have seen advertisements for nightguards and tooth straightening aligners that you can order online, without visiting a dentist. These services can seem very attractive due to their cost and ability to obtain without leaving the comfort of your own home. However, buyer beware! Their alluring selling points can ultimately cost you a lot more trouble and money. I will fill you in on some secrets about these services.
Mail order tooth aligner services distribute a series of clear plastic retainers that orthodontically straighten your teeth. These companies market themselves as similar to "Invisalign". However, there are many important differences between these services and "Invisalign". Invisalign treatment is monitored by your dentist. Your dentist does a thorough examination of your teeth and gums to see if you are a candidate for treatment. Your dentist will then take impressions (molds) or digital scans of your teeth and come up with a plan for how to give you the best results. Throughout treatment, you will be monitored periodically by your dentist to make sure treatment is progressing as planned. With the mail order services, there is no dentist examining a patient's teeth before beginning treatment. Patients with undiagnosed and untreated gum disease and cavities can make these conditions worse with aligner treatment. Due to the lack of treatment monitoring with mail order aligners, teeth may be moved beyond their limits. This could potentially result in loose teeth, gum recession, and tooth loss. Mail order services also require the patient to take the impression, rather than a dentist. Improperly taken impressions can also lead to poor outcomes.
Mail order nightguards require the patient to take the impression, just like mail order tooth aligners. An improperly taken impression can result in an ill fitting nightguard. A nightguard made by a dentist is custom made for your bite. This ensures that you don't develop any pain in your teeth or in your TMJ. A mail order nightguard is not adjusted for your bite, which can cause tooth pain and actually worsen TMJ symptoms.
I would recommend consulting your dentist before considering any of these mail order dental treatments!