Straighter Teeth Without Seeing A Dentist?

An American company is coming to the UK, apparently offering online orthodontics (braces).

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we are positively in favour of new technologies working for the benefit of our patients.It can help both accuracy of diagnosis as well as improving outcomes and speeding up procedures. Not all new ideas are necessarily good though, and in today’s blog, we take a look at an American company that is heading to the UK, offering orthodontics online, without the need to see your dentist.

At present, apparently they are opening 9 shops in the UK and no doubt, if these are successful, they will expand. Even if you live nowhere near the shops though, they also offer an ‘at home’ kit which allows them to create your own personalised trays that aim to straighten your teeth without ever having to visit a dental practice.

But is this a good idea?

Some may simply argue that we dentists don’t like competition. The fact though is that we want the best for our patients, many of whom have been attending our Burton dental practice for many many years. Although this online route might seem like a tempting idea to some, it is important to be aware of the potential pitfalls of going down this road.

How does it work?

Much of the business is online based, although you can go into the shops if you wish. There is an online form that asks basic questions to see if you are a suitable candidate. If you are, you can then visit a shop to have 3D images taken of your teeth or they will send you an ‘at home’ kit which allows you to take an impression of your teeth. From these, they will create the trays designed to straighten the teeth.

The system doesn’t negate dental supervision entirely and they will allocate you a UK dentist or orthodontist who will check your progress every 90 days, monitoring it remotely through uploaded photographs and thereby hopefully avoiding the need to actually see the dentist.

The marketing provided is probably designed to appeal to the younger generation, for whom ‘online’ is entirely natural and comfortable. After all, most of us probably now book tickets and even holidays entirely via the internet. Those seeking a ‘Love Island smile’ will probably be tempted by this new modern approach. Although they claim to have professional dentists and orthodontists working for them, this is primarily via remote working. As a dental practice which puts a great deal of importance on patient care, we struggle to understand how this can work sufficiently well via photographs that the patient uploads during their teeth straightening treatment.

In our opinion, nothing can beat the one to one supervision offered by practices such as our own that offer cosmetic dental treatments such as teeth straightening. Photographs may be useful, but unless you physically see and examine the teeth, it is possible that any issues arising may not be spotted until they have reached a certain stage, making correction more difficult. It is also quite possible that those using this option will choose to avoid their own regular dentist in case he/she challenges them about the wisdom of using this method. Avoiding the dentist because of this could easily mean that instances of decay or gum disease go undetected. You could, potentially, end up with an even smile but have teeth and gums that are in quite poor health.

Of course, these are just opinions and we are sure that the company will claim that their method is perfectly safe and effective. Personally, we feel that you simply can’t beat having your orthodontic treatment carried out by a dentist that you know and trust and who will physically examine and monitor the ongoing progress, making adjustments as necessary.

Safe and reliable alternatives

Although we fully expect some in the UK to be drawn to this new method of undergoing orthodontic treatment, we feel that many will be more cautious. Although it may cost a little more, many people are likely not to wish to take a chance with the health of their teeth and will visit an established dental clinic instead. At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we are always happy to offer advice and treatment for patients who are unhappy with their current smile, including where teeth are crooked or overcrowded.

Your journey to straighter teeth starts with a visit to see us where you will be examined by a dentist. Not only will this allow us to suggest the best orthodontic system to use, but will also allow us to thoroughly check your mouth for any issues, such as gum disease, which will need treating before the treatment starts. If this is not done, not only might the trays feel sore when fitted, but could also spread the issues causing it.

We will also offer cleaning advice, based on the type of teeth brace being used. You will be able to ask us any questions that you have regarding your treatment and we are always available, should you be concerned about any aspect of the treatment during the treatment period.

We can’t tell our patients what to do, and some may choose the online options. But our feeling is that by doing so, you are unlikely to receive the same personalised treatment along with an apparent reduction in ongoing supervision.

If you would like to find out more about the teeth straightening options at our Burton dental practice, you can call us to arrange an initial consultation on 01283 845345. And we’ll be there to look after you personally!