Woman wearing orthodontic silicone trainer mobile

Straightening out the details on a DIY smile

Date: April 2021

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

Many at-home aligner treatments have entered the market. With home delivery becoming more common, patients need to be properly informed about orthodontic options.

Based on the results of a 2014 survey, the American Association of Orthodontics estimated that 27% of orthodontic patients in Canada and the United States were adults. Adults are choosing to straighten their smiles with traditional orthodontic appliances and with clear aligners. While clear aligners can be used to treat many different types of ortho cases, they are not for everyone. Many orthodontists provide free orthodontic consultations to identify what type of orthodontic treatment is best for a specific patient. Unfortunately, some patients have chosen to skip the step of consulting with an orthodontist or their dentist on a course of treatment for them. Some patients have elected to treat themselves by using mail order aligners. While there are different products on the market and the original set-up can slightly vary, many of the aligners come as a kit. Some companies include consultation, others may have a store front where a non-dental professional can take impressions which are then analyzed by someone remotely. In other situations, an individual may take their own impressions. Leaving out a clinical examination can result in starting treatment without first addressing other dental concerns.

Benefit of supervised care

Just like any other type of medical treatment, when orthodontic treatment has been prescribed, the best course of action is planned and monitored regularly. When patients are examined by an orthodontist, a scan of their oral cavity is taken. CAD/CAM systems are designed to give an intraoral overview. Scans can be performed during treatment, to check on progress . Routine appointments can identify whether adjustments to treatment may be needed and address any issues.

Many people have chosen the “over-the-counter” type aligners based on price. While the initial cost is less, for patients who aren’t seeing a dentist regularly or having their ortho progress monitored, problems can occur and if not addressed may result in treatment being required, which can also become expensive.

Patients come to us for care. Speaking to our patients about their oral health and addressing questions they may about that and potential treatment have are important components of the care we provide.


- Adults have increasingly sought orthodontic treatment, investing in their smiles

- Honest, non-judgmental conversations with patients should occur regarding their orthodontic treatment options and the importance of regular visits and good preventive care.

- Help patients to see the bigger picture. Orthodontic treatment can change. It’s important that patients have their treatment monitored and visit their dental professional, making sure their preventive care is also being maintained.

Making the choice to enter into orthodontic care can change not only the patient's smile, it can build their self- esteem, chewing ability and much more. Talking about the importance of an orthodontic partnership, as opposed to doing it alone, and how this can be beneficial helps to inform patients.

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