The Dangers of At-Home Orthodontics

If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a company advertising on social media for “at-home orthodontics” for less than half the price of traditional Invisalign. Here’s how it works: You take molds of your teeth at home and then they mail you aligners each month instead of having to go to your dentist’s office.

While the price and the convenience can be appealing, I highly advise against using this or similar products that do not have oversight from a trained professional. While straightening your teeth may seem like a simple treatment, there are a number of things that can go wrong if you aren’t under the watchful eye of a dentist or orthodontist. For instance:

  • Temporomandibular dysfunction, or TMD. The top and bottom teeth should always have a complementary relationship. However, if one moves and the other is not also adjusted, this can result in problems with the jaw hinge. The result is pretty significant jaw pain and problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When not monitored closely by a trained professional, orthodontics can cause TMJ problems.
  • Tooth wear. When your teeth don’t line up correctly, there may also be friction between the top and bottom teeth that results in noticeable tooth wear. This is typically a slow wear that occurs over a period of time, gradually reducing the tooth structure until it becomes an issue of pain or aesthetics.
  • Gum recession and muscle pain. The gums may also recede with undue pressure on teeth as a result of jaw problems. This can cause an entirely different issue that will need to be treated down the line. Severe gum recession can result in damage to the bone structure and teeth, infection and tooth loss.
  • Muscle pain. Another side effect of a misaligned jaw is muscle pain that may feel like an ear ache. With the jaw in the wrong place, muscles will have to work harder to align the teeth and close the mouth correctly. Over time, this muscle may get bigger and stronger and also cause tooth wear.

It all comes back to alignment. Whatever changes occur on the top teeth will eventually have a reaction on the bottom teeth and the computers that generate your aligners can’t predict these changes as well as a dentist or orthodontist that is skilled at this treatment. So, while your teeth may be straighter, at-home orthodontics may cause another set of issues that you didn’t have before.

If you’re looking at this solution as a way to save money, I would highly recommend against it. There is a reason that you are paying a dentist to oversee this treatment. The dentist is there to (1) design your smile, (2) determine the best course of treatment and (3) make any necessary tweaks along the way. Even the most straightforward cases will require tweaks, and that is what the dentist is there to determine.

Interested in straightening your teeth with orthodontics? Call our office at (813) 689-4226 to schedule a consultation.

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