If you have been researching clear aligner therapy to straighten your teeth, you would be justified in wondering: are at-home clear aligners safe?
First, let’s be clear about what we mean by “at-home” aligners. Clear aligner therapy can be:
- delivered and monitored by the doctor directly in an office setting, OR
- delivered and monitored by the doctor remotely via a teledentistry platform.
The teledentistry version is commonly referred to as at-home aligners, or sometimes at-home invisible braces. Neither of these treatment delivery methods should be confused with the dangerous trend of do-it-yourself orthodontics which does not involve doctor oversight or the use of prescribed orthodontic appliances. Do-it-yourself orthodontics is extremely risky and is not recommended under any circumstances.
Second, there are certain risks associated with all forms of orthodontic treatment. An informed consent document will typically outline the common risks. Like any other medical procedure or treatment, it is impossible to eliminate all risk. Regardless of the treatment delivery method, there are three main things that will minimize the risks of adverse effects during treatment:
- A thorough oral exam
- Patient compliance with treatment protocols
- Maintaining good oral health during treatment
Before beginning orthodontic treatment, patients should receive a thorough oral examination and professional cleaning from their dentist. Your dentist needs to determine that your teeth, bone, and gum tissue is healthy enough for orthodontic treatment. Permanent damage could result from attempting to move teeth when there is an underlying oral health issue.
All orthodontic treatment modalities require the patient to follow the treatment protocols provided by their doctor. This is particularly true for clear aligners because the patient can remove them completely which creates the possibility of:
- Not wearing the aligners consistently enough which is more stressful on the teeth
- Wearing the aligners out of order (very dangerous)
- Advancing in the treatment before the teeth have had a chance to stabilize
- Skipping check-ins
At-home treatment is essentially exactly the same as in-office treatment in the sense that a doctor can only help if the patient upholds their end of the deal. That means showing up to check-ins and diligently following treatment protocols.
MAINTAINING ORAL HEALTH
Just as it is important to receive a thorough exam from your dentist before beginning aligner therapy treatment, it is equally important to keep up routine dental visits during treatment.
All orthodontic treatments involve a degree of risk. And all orthodontic treatments require the patient to follow treatment protocols. Of all the treatment modalities, clear aligner therapy is particularly reliant on patient compliance to minimize the risk of potential adverse effects.