11 Things to Consider When Researching Direct-To-Consumer Orthodontic Companies

Direct-To-Consumer Orthodontic companies make it seem easy. With many of them you just need to send in a selfie and/or impression of your teeth or for some, get your teeth scanned at a designated facility and then they will send you your aligners in the mail. No regular orthodontic visits needed. And often these companies will also offer deep discounts on their aligners.

No matter how tempted you are to go this route, however, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) asks you to consider the following questions when researching direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies. You need to protect the health of your teeth and your overall health at all times and if no one is monitoring your treatment closely in-person, how will you know if something is going wrong, if the aligners are moving the teeth in the right way or if any of the teeth are getting damaged by the treatment?

Ask yourself, is there any other transforming medical treatment you would undergo without an in-person, pre-treatment evaluation or ongoing in-person supervision from a medical professional?

If you are still considering a direct-to consumer orthodontic company for your orthodontic treatment, the AAO asks that you make sure to consider these 11 things when researching direct-to consumer orthodontic companies?

1. Is an orthodontist involved in your treatment?

As part of your treatment fee, will you be able to have any in-person visits with an orthodontist during your treatment?

This is really the bare minimum that’s recommended to follow for safe and effective treatment.

If yes, find out how many are you allotted and what parts of the treatment process they will be involved with?

Also make sure that a licensed orthodontist will be present for these visits. If these visits aren’t offered, we strongly recommend a treatment process that involves a licensed orthodontist.

All orthodontists must first complete dental school before applying to become an orthodontist. Similar to becoming a medical specialist, such as a surgeon or an internist, orthodontists complete orthodontic residency program for two to three years after dental school. There are more people who apply for orthodontic residencies than there are residencies available. In fact, there are about 15 applications for every opening.

Orthodontists are medically trained to diagnose, prevent, intercept and treat dental and facial irregularities.

2. Is the orthodontist licensing & board certified

If you are assigned an orthodontist to oversee your treatment, make sure you known their name and can easily find information on their education and credentials on the company’s website or at other places.

Important information to research includes:

  • which state(s) they are licensed in
  • which state(s) they practice
  • what other patients have said about them
  • are they American Board of Orthodontics certified

Remember that this is your oral health you are addressing. Your smile is a huge part of who you are. Don’t overlook the importance of having a trained, licensed and board certified Orthodontic specialist oversee your treatment.

Seeing someone who is licensed and certified in their field is always the best path to success, even if it means spending a few extra dollars now in order to have treatment done correctly to industry standards – once and only once.

3. Will your treatment include comprehensive diagnostic records like x-rays taken before your treatment?

If it does, make sure it includes x-rays of your teeth and jaws as well a clinical examination of your jaw alignment, bite and the relationship of your teeth to the skeletal structures. Also find out if the treatment and fee also includes taking photographs of your face, facial profile, mouth and teeth as well as digital scans or other types of impressions of your teeth?

If these services aren’t offered, are you willing to go through a treatment process with a comprehensive diagnosis?

4. How many different types of treatment options does the company offer?

Every patient is different. There’s a reason orthodontists spend years studying orthodontics, building their knowledge and expertise to create unique and personalized treatment plans for each and every patient.

Remember that every person’s needs are different.  You should feel confident that your treatment model was chosen with utmost care, taking in consideration your unique needs.

If a company only offers out of the box aligners without any specific treatment plan that’s designed for you and your body, then you are not going to have a positive experience. Be very wary of cookie cutter, one-size fits all models of treatment or programs that don’t provide a long-lasting result.

5. Make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment.

Have you been to a dentist recently? If you have loose or decayed teeth or gum disease, starting any type of orthodontic treatment before addressing these issues will only cause more damage to your teeth and gums. Is there a dentist or orthodontist at the company who will help make sure your teeth are healthy enough for treatment? Is it a part of your treatment fee or a separate cost?

6.Consider the risks

You need to consider the possible risks (financial, health etc) that you can be taking going down this treatment path. Are the risks worth it? Are you prepared to handle any problems that might crop up? If your progress or results regress down the road, are you willing to accept losing your money on an ineffective treatment?

7. Who monitors issues?

Who from the direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies are responsible for monitoring for any issues during your treatment? Is that all on you or is there a doctor who will be doing in-person checkups? Is this a separate cost?

8. Who addresses issues that may arise?

If you do have a problem while undergoing treatment, how will it be handled and who is responsible for handling it?

If there is a doctor involved in your treatment, how easy is it to contact him or her if an emergency arises? Is there a local orthodontist in your area that you can see in-person? Will this be covered as part of your treatment fee?

9. If you are injured or have any type of dispute during your orthodontic treatment, how is it handled by the company?

Do they have a process for litigation or arbitration? Did you know that 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 https://www.aaoinfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info.

10. What forms will you be required to sign?

Know you rights if you are injured or have a legal dispute with the direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies providing 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?

To check your state’s dental laws, click here: https://www.aaoinfo.org/state-laws-and-regulations. Information for your state dental board can be found here: https://www.aainfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info.

For the full notice about direct-to consumer orthodontic companies by the American Association of Orthodontists, click here: https://prodv1-consumer.aaoinfo.org/_/online-orthodontic-companies/

Orthodontics Limited is a licensed, board-certified and experienced orthodontic practice in the Philadelphia, PA and Montgomery County, PA area. Each and every one of patients see one of our 3 orthodontists at every visit. Each treatment plan is unique and specifically designed, administered and monitored for you and your mouth. Our experience and commitment to orthodontic excellence has made us one of the #1 orthodontists in the nation for Invisalign and braces.

Do not forward with an orthodontic solution until speaking to a licensed orthodontist.  For an in-person evaluation of your oral health and possible orthodontic needs, contact us for free initial consultation.

For questions about treatment contact one of our offices. We’re here to help and answer any questions you have!