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At-Home Aligners Raise the Concerns of Medical Groups

Right now, a lot of people claim that they can fix or enhance your smile. There are new at-home clear aligner options where a consumer never meets with a doctor in person and never goes into an office for checkups on progress. The patient is responsible for taking their own molds from a kit that gets mailed to them at home to be fitted for clear aligners. Once the patient starts wearing their at-home aligners, they are responsible for taking photos of their progress to send to the company. 

These new, direct-to-consumer clear aligners are raising concern with medical organizations like the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists. “Moving teeth without knowing all aspects of a patient’s oral condition has the potential to cause the patient harm. Orthodontic treatment, if not done properly, could lead to potential bone loss, lost teeth, receding gums, bite problems, jaw pain, and other issues,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Cole, president of the American Dental Association, in a recent complaint to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. It is recommended that you see an orthodontist for any treatment that involves moving teeth.

Patients should see an orthodontist because orthodontists are specialists, which means they experts in that particular field. It’s similar to seeing a cardiologist when you have a heart condition vs. seeing a general doctor. Specialists in dentistry have completed an additional two to three years of specialized training beyond their four years of dental school and four years of undergraduate studies. Specialists are recognized in those areas where advanced knowledge and skills are essential to maintain or restore oral health. By completing concentrated training in a dedicated field, specialists focus on treatment methods and techniques for patients specific to their area of expertise. 

Orthodontists are specialists that concentrate on the prevention and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws to promote ideal function and optimal aesthetics. Their work includes straightening teeth and bites with the use of braces, retainers, bands, wires, clear aligners, and other corrective appliances.The goal of orthodontic treatment is obtaining an improved and functional smile, meaning straight teeth that align well with the teeth in the opposite jaw and look great. A good bite makes it easier for you to bite, chew, and speak, and many people find a beautiful smile adds to self-esteem and self-confidence. Dr. Steve Kristo of Kristo Orthodontics suggests children see an orthodontic specialist to create an orthodontic plan at age 7. This initial exam is important to ensure a proper long-term plan can be put in place early, even if orthodontic treatment is not immediately needed. It is also common for adults to see an orthodontist for treatment such as clear aligners and braces.  

It is not necessary to have a referral to become a patient at most orthodontic offices, including Kristo Orthodontics. It is highly encouraged that you receive a second opinion whenever you are considering orthodontic treatment.  

Kristo Orthodontics is a community partner of Chippewa Valley Family.

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