What is Mail Order Aligners? Risks of Home Scanning and Treatment

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    Ever dreamt of having straight teeth and flaunting your beautiful smile? Braces can help your dream come true! But, with the very thought of braces, most people avoid them as they picturize bulky metallic or ceramic pieces stuck on teeth. However, with clear aligners, you can get your teeth aligned and no one would have to know because they are transparent and almost invisible when worn on the teeth.


    Clear aligners are a type of aesthetic orthodontic treatment that helps people get beautifully aligned teeth in the most discreet manner. There are different brands of clear aligners available today and choosing the right brand is very critical for the success of your treatment.

    In an ideal scenario, clear aligner treatments are monitored by orthodontists(dentists who specialize in teeth alignment) and occur in a dental clinic, just like other braces treatment. However, there are quite a few companies in the world today that promise to deliver invisible braces to you, directly at home! Imagine getting your teeth straightened without visiting a dentist! These are called mail-order aligners.


    The possibility of a dental treatment performed without a dentist is both scary and worrisome. Many mail-order aligner companies today deliver your clear aligner trays directly at home and all you’ve got to do is wear them as instructed. While it sounds too good to be true, it is actually not the best way to go about straightening your teeth.

    How do Mail-Order Aligners Work?

    In the case of mail-order aligners, all the steps involved in the treatment take place at home– dental scan, verification of the clinical case and delivery of aligners.

    • In order to begin treatment, you will have to book an appointment for your dental scan.
    • Based on your appointment schedule, a trained technician or dentist will visit you for taking your dental scan or teeth measurement. In some cases, the company sends you an impression-making kit with instructions. Using these instructions, you will need to take accurate measurements of your upper and lower teeth and mail it to the company.
    • Once the company’s team receives your measurements, they will devise a treatment plan and let you know if your teeth can be straightened using their aligners and how long it will take.
    • In most instances, if you are not a case that is treatable by aligners, you will be informed about the same an you can expect a refund for any money paid.
    • Once your case is approved, you will need to make the payment upfront and your aligner trays will be mailed to you.
    • Once you receive your trays, you can wear them as per instructions given.

    While this sounds super easy and convenient, mail-order aligners come with a large number of risks, many of which can cause permanent damage to your teeth and dentition.

    Let’s understand more about them!

    Risks of Home Scanning and Aligners Treatment

    · How accurate is the scan?

    One of the biggest risks with at-home scanning or impression-making is – how accurate are these records? Clear aligners are custom-made trays that help move your teeth and this is different for each individual. So, if your measurements are wrong or the scan is incorrect, the company will not be able to make the right fitting trays. This will have a direct impact on your treatment and its success.

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      · Is your treatment solely based on the scans you sent?

      When an orthodontist evaluates your teeth for braces treatment in the clinic, they evaluate your teeth, their positions, health, bite, facial structure, etc., clinically as well as take measurements to study the case. However, in the case of mail-order aligners, your treatment plan is entirely based upon the scans and images sent by you or the technician. Does that mean your entire treatment is just based on the records that you, the patient, sends? The accuracy of these records determine the success of treatment.

      · Is there an orthodontist who is responsible for treatment planning?

      Another important point that arises with mail-order aligners is– who is responsible for the treatment planning of cases? In the case of normal clear aligners, the in-house orthodontist discusses with the company’s panel of orthodontist before devising the entire treatment plan for each patient. However, with no orthodontist in the picture in the case of mail-order aligners, who devises the treatment plan? Treatment planning done by anyone but a qualified orthodontist can lead to fraud on the part of the aligner company.

      · Do I have good oral health to begin orthodontic treatment?

      When an orthodontist evaluates the patient’s teeth, gums, facial structure and other tissues, they are evaluating the health of these tissues as well. In most orthodontic treatments, the orthodontists advise dental fillings, extractions, teeth cleaning and other such treatments to bring all the teeth in the mouth to health before orthodontic treatment can begin.

      However, in the case of mail-order aligners, there is no one to determine the health of the patient’s teeth and tissues before they can begin orthodontic treatment with aligners.

      Suggestion: Invisible Braces Cost in India

      · What to do in case of an emergency?

      Dental treatments, just like any other medical treatment, require monitoring by an expert. No matter how easy an orthodontic case may be, patients are tend to have many queries and an emergency situation at times. When you are undergoing a clear aligner treatment, you can always contact your dentist or treating orthodontist. However, with no treating orthodontist or dentist, patients have nowhere to go in case of an emergency situation during treatment.

      · Who keeps track of my treatment?

      With regular braces treatment, you are required to visit your orthodontist once every 3-4 weeks but with clear aligners, you can visit your orthodontist once every 4-6 weeks. During your visits, your doctor keeps a track and monitors your treatment to make sure it is progressing as expected and in case of any problem or roadblock, they are available to tackle it promptly.

      With mail-order aligners, the patient is the one keeping track of their treatment progress but without any expertise, it becomes impossible to tell if your treatment is not progressing or progressing differently than expected.

      While mail-order aligners an at-home scanning sound luxurious and super convenient, they are not recommended. There have been many instances where the treatment has ruined the patient’s dentition causing unnecessary and at times, permanent damage. Avoid falling into such traps and visit a qualified orthodontist for straightening your teeth! Choose your aligner company wisely.

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