If you are like many Canadians who use the computer in some way daily, you are almost sure to have seen an advertisement for a “smile club”. You may be curious about this alternative and how it compares to Invisalign – a company who has been providing clear aligner orthodontic treatment in conjunction with a qualified dentist.
Online smile clubs are businesses that give you clear aligners without the benefit of the supervision of your dentist. While this may be tempting for some – less visits to the office, perhaps the price tag is cheaper – it is not advised from an oral health standpoint. Let’s have a look at the differences between Smile Direct and Invisalign.
At Smile Direct, there is no consultation with a dentist. There is not a professional assessment of your oral health and any conditions you may have going into treatment. They do advise that you have an exam by your dentist, but it is not required to go ahead with treatment.
Invisalign treatment is provided by a dentist who is has been trained in Invisalign. Your dentist will determine through a comprehensive exam that your oral health is stable enough to go through Invisalign, or to determine which steps are needed to get you to the point where you are stable enough for treatment. Your dentist will assess your TMJ as well to ensure there are not any underlying issues which could be affected by moving the teeth.
You are sent a kit in the mail to take your own impressions. If you have had impressions taken before, you will understand that this is easier said than done! For the aligners to fit well, the impression must not be distorted in any way.
Your dentist or Invisalign trained hygienist or assistant will take impressions and check them for absolute accuracy prior to sending them to the lab for fabrication. This ensures a perfect fit for the aligners you will be wearing every day for time of your treatment.
First Visit/Delivery of Trays
Smile Direct Club
Your entire treatment of trays will be mailed to you without a professional fitting. No attachments are placed on the teeth. Ongoing treatment when trays are changed is not monitored. No adjustments are made during treatment.
With Invisalign you are given 2-3 sets of trays between assessment visits. At the initial visit, your dentist may have to slightly reduce the sides of the teeth if there is crowding. Tooth coloured attachments are strategically placed on the teeth to aid in movement of the teeth. When you receive your new trays, your dentist will assess the fit and ensure your teeth are moving (or tracking) in the exact direction according to the treatment plan. Sometimes the attachments need to be removed and new ones placed to help the teeth into a more favourable alignment.
After Treatment is Complete
Smile Direct Club
The club recommends you purchase additional retainers to help prevent your teeth from moving once treatment is complete. The retainers should ideally be worn for 2 weeks 24 hours/day and then indefinitely over night. They advise each set of retainers will last 6 months at a cost of $99 per set.
Your Invisalign treatment includes 4 sets of retainers to wear after your treatment is complete. These are to be worn for 24 hours/day for an initial period determined by your dentist, and then indefinitely over night. 4 sets of retainers may last you for life depending on if you have and grinding or clenching issues over night.
If you are considering orthodontic treatment of any kind, please ensure you do your due diligence in determining which option is best for you. Please, if you do choose one of the “smile clubs” have a comprehensive exam with your regular dentist to ensure you don’t have any underlying oral health issues that may prevent you from being a good candidate for clear aligners.