Office Update - COVID-19

Considering “Do It Yourself Orthodontics” - Ask These Questions

Considering “Do It Yourself Orthodontics” - Ask These Questions
Posted on 09/17/2019
DIY Orthodontics image

A smile is priceless so the idea of getting the perfect smile through the mail, sounds good, almost too good to be true.  Not everyone can afford the thousands of dollars it costs for braces or well-known products like Invisalign which is why Smile Direct Club hit the market.  Smile Direct Club and other companies allows you to bypass the orthodontist along with the bills.  They offer to have you take your own impressions (This skill takes weeks for an orthodontic assistant to master so please never consider this option) or go to their “scan center” to have a 3-D scan.  Then you get plastic trays in the mail for do it yourself orthodontics.  What could go wrong?  Evidently a lot and they have you sign away your right to sue them when treatment goes wrong and you are expected to buy retainers from them forever to keep your teeth straight.  What other transforming medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?

If you are considering any type of Orthodontic treatment, ask the following questions.

  1. As part of your treatment, are comprehensive diagnostic records like x-rays taken before your treatment?
    • YES
      • Does the treatment and fee include x-rays of your teeth and jaws?
      • Does the treatment and fee include a clinical examination of your jaw alignment, teeth, bite, and the relationship of your teeth to the skeletal structures?
      • Does the treatment and fee include taking photographs of your face, facial profile, mouth, and teeth?
      • Does the treatment and fee include taking digital scans or other impressions of your teeth?
    • NO – are you comfortable starting orthodontic treatment without comprehensive diagnostic records?
    • NO – are you comfortable with orthodontic treatment that does not involve any in-person visits with a dentist or orthodontist?
    • NO – are you comfortable not being able to research your dentist’s or orthodontist’s background, credentials, patient reviews, etc. before you begin treatment?
  2. As part of your treatment fee, do you receive any in-person visits to a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office during your treatment?
    • YES
      • How many?
      • What occurs during these in-person visits?
      • Is there a licensed dentist or orthodontist in the office to supervise the visits?
  3. If a dentist or orthodontist is involved with your treatment, do you know the name of the dentist or orthodontist who will be specifically involved with your case (for example, is it available on the company’s website or elsewhere)?
    • YES
      • What are his or her education and credentials?
      • In what state is he or she licensed?
      • In what state does he or she practice?
      • What do other patients being treated by him or her have to say?
  4. Is only one treatment type offered (such as invisible aligners or a certain appliance)?
    • YES – how do you know that is the best treatment option for you, given your unique situation and oral condition, compared to other treatment models (such as braces)?
    • NO – how is the decision being made for the best treatment model for you, and who is making that decision?
  5. How do you know if your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment?
    • Who is making that decision and how is it being determined?
    • If the decision maker is a dentist or orthodontist not associated with your treatment, who pays for that assessment?
  6. What are the possible risks (financial, health, etc.) associated with your orthodontic treatment?What rights have you signed away to start treatment?
  7. Who can you speak with at the online orthodontic company about your orthodontic treatment?
    • What is his or her education, background, qualifications and/or experience with orthodontics?
  8. Who is responsible for detecting any issues that may occur during your orthodontic treatment?
    • Is it you?
    • If it is a doctor not associated with your treatment, how will you contact the doctor if there is a problem?Who do you see for an emergency?
  9. If you are injured or have another dispute involving your orthodontic treatment, how is it handled (litigation, arbitration, etc.)? State dental boards have their own complaint processes for patients who have had issues with orthodontic treatment. Contact information for your state dental board can be found at


  10. If you are injured or have a dispute involving your orthodontic treatment, what rights do you have against the person or company involved with your orthodontic treatment?
    • Are you asked to sign any forms that seek to release them from liability?
  11. Does the treatment model comply with the dental laws in your state?
  12. How do they handle retention of your teeth?Do you have to buy clear trays from them forever?

Obviously, there are a number of things to consider when choosing orthodontic treatment.  This is not something you should decide in a mall or a pharmacy while taking with a sales person or a technician.  If they tell you your treatment is “easy”, I will share a quote from one of my favorite instructors during my 3-year orthodontic residency: “There is no such thing as easy treatment, only complex treatment that we charge less for”.