Many virtual options now exist when it comes to orthodontia, but most professionals recommend people see local orthodontists, rather than get braces or aligners online. Seeing a local orthodontist may also provide a more thorough and specific care approach to each individual patient’s unique set of needs.
Dentists Dr. Marie Calabrese, owner of Complete Smile Care in Mayfield Heights; Dr. Jordan Roth, D.D.S., owner of Fried & Roth Orthodontics in Lyndhurst; and Dr. Stephan Parker, co-owner of Parker & Streem Orthodontics in Mayfield, discussed the benefits of visiting a local orthodontist to straighten one’s teeth instead of using an online service.
“Having orthodontic treatment by a dentist guarantees your treatment is followed by someone who has the proper training to diagnose the problems with your bite relationship, the benefits and risks involved, and the best method to achieve the outcome both the doctor and patient are looking for,” Calabrese said.
Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, have years of research and development behind them to back up their effectiveness, she said. Receiving those in-office means the highest quality materials will be used.
“The dentist is involved at every stage of treatment and can determine if additional tools are needed along with the clear aligners to move the teeth in the desired way,” she noted.
Dentists or orthodontists will also evaluate a person’s oral health prior to beginning orthodontic treatment, she said. This involves screening for oral cancer, making sure the patient doesn’t have any cavities or infections of the roots, and has healthy gums and sound bone surrounding their teeth.
An in-office provider will follow the patient through every step of the process, rather than leaving the patient to do it themselves, Calabrese pointed out.
She advised choosing a provider who offers the services one desires, looking at their reviews online and setting up a consultation to meet with them.
“Treatment, such as orthodontics, that takes place over a period of months is based on mutual respect and trust between a doctor and her patient,” Calabrese said. “It’s important a patient is comfortable with the person she selects for her care.”
Online orthodontics usually involves a mail order kit that depends on a patient to accurately take an impression of their teeth, Roth explained. Treatment is not usually monitored once it begins and ideal results are rarely obtained.
“Pursuing orthodontics at a local office involves meeting with an orthodontist that has completed a two- to three-year residency at an accredited program in the U.S.,” he said. “The orthodontist and his or her team will take professional-level diagnostic records that include photos, X-rays, digital intra-oral scans and perform an in-person clinical exam to evaluate the overall health of the teeth, gums and supporting bone.”
The provider then uses the information from those evaluations to formulate a treatment plan that is often more intricate than simply straightening teeth with mail order aligners, he added. They can also coordinate the treatment plan with their patient’s general dentist.
“Patients will be seen for periodic adjustments in the office as treatment progresses,” Roth explained. “Direct to consumer treatments from online often result in sub-par results and potentially TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain, which can lead the patient to need further treatment.”
He suggested anyone interested in straightening their teeth, via braces or clear aligners, contact a local orthodontist to find out what options are available to them.
Roth also noted the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic exam by age 7. Often, treatment will not be needed until all adult teeth come in.
“There are a lot of reasons to choose a local orthodontist, as opposed to ordering aligners or braces online,” Parker said. “People can order braces online and there are videos trying to explain what to do with them but it takes a certain knowledge and level of skill to move people’s teeth.”
He explained the malocclusion needs to be diagnosed properly, and the provider needs to make sure there are no problems with the patient’s gums or teeth, such as cavities.
“Moving teeth in an unhealthy environment, and oftentimes you may not know it’s an unhealthy environment, can cause more damage than you can imagine,” he said.
The first step is getting the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan by a specialist, he said. If a person gets braces by mail order, they will not be getting that. There will be many missing parts.
The treatment will not be tailored to a patient’s needs, nor will they be followed by the same provider, Parker noted.
“If there’s problems that arise, you’re not going to have anybody who’s going to address them,” he said.