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Smile Direct Home Aligners Vs Dentist-Led Invisalign Aligners

In 1997, Align Technology released Invisalign aligners, an orthodontic system that would revolutionise the way dentists straighten teeth. And in 2017, the bulk of the patents held by the company expired, which paved the way for competitors to start offering their own clear aligner systems.

Today, there are dozens of companies offering clear aligners. Ask your local orthodontist about clear aligner options, and you will be given a wide range of options. But another competitor has also cropped up in the orthodontics sector; At-home aligners.

At-home aligners are presented as a cost-effective alternative to in-office orthodontics. They are aggressively marketed as an easy alternative that allows the patient to manage their own treatment from home. But how effective can this be for straightening teeth? And is it safe?

In this article, we will explore the rise of at-home aligner systems versus the traditional dentist-supervised aligner systems, so you can make an informed decision about which treatment is right for you.

What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners offer an alternative orthodontic treatment option to traditional fixed braces. They work in a similar way to the retainer that you wear at night time following orthodontic treatment but can be used to manage the whole treatment plan.

They are made from a tough but lightweight plastic that applies gentle pressure to your teeth to help move them into the correct alignment. Instead of adjusting the braces that are fixed to your teeth, you change your aligner every 10-14 days. Each aligner in your case will bring your teeth a little bit closer to perfect alignment.

You can remove your aligners to eat, drink and brush your teeth. This makes them incredibly popular with adults who might not want to change their diet or spend extra time carefully brushing fixed aligners.

Invisalign Versus Smile Direct Club

The UK’s biggest at-home aligner company is Smile Direct Club. And the UK’s biggest dentist-led aligner company is Invisalign. There are other aligner systems available, but for the sake of comparing dentist-led versus at-home systems, it is easier to focus on the two biggest providers. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Advantages of Invisalign from your dentist

  • The original clear aligner provider

  • Fewer dentist visits than fixed aligners

  • Supervised by your dentist throughout the treatment

  • Only available following a dentist consultation

  • Aligners are created using 3D scans

  • Suitable for a wide range of orthodontic issues

  • Flexible treatment plans, including Invisalign Go which focuses on the top front teeth

  • Treatment typically includes extras, like free teeth whitening, retainers and composite bonding

Disadvantages of Invisalign

  • Typically the most expensive option, but many dentists offer interest-free credit payment plans

  • Treatment times vary, but most will take 12-18 months

Advantages of Smile Direct Club home aligners

  • Attractive monthly pricing plans, but will often include interest unless you pay upfront

  • No dental visits throughout the treatment

  • Fast treatment times are advertised with results promised in as little as 6 months

  • Offer 24/7 access to phone and video support

Disadvantages of Smile Direct Club

  • Not supervised by a dentist

  • You will have access to support, but this isn’t the same as a visit to the dentist

  • A look at their Trustpilot reviews reveals mixed responses from customers

  • There is the risk the treatment could go wrong without dental supervision and impact your oral health

  • No free extras at the end of the treatment

  • Your usual dentist might not be able to help with any issues, as they won’t be informed about your treatment plan

Which should I choose?

If you’re on the fence about dentist-supervised orthodontics versus at-home orthodontics, there is really only one thing you need to know. The main difference between the two is price, and the difference in price is determined by the level of supervision you receive.

When you choose Invisalign aligners, the treatment will be more expensive because you are also paying for your dentist’s time. When you choose an at-home aligner system, you are saving money by choosing to do a very complex dental procedure without dental supervision.

While a dentist may sign off on your treatment plan, this is not after a meeting with the patient and an in-depth examination. They look at the scans and then give their approval based on the limited information they have.

Looking at the reviews of Smile Direct Club on Trustpilot, you will see that patients either love or hate the procedure. When things go wrong with teeth straightening, there is more at stake than just your investment. You risk permanent damage to your teeth that could be avoided if you choose a dentist-supervised treatment plan.

If cost is an issue, we recommend looking for a dentist that offers interest-free credit payment plans to help you spread the cost of treatment. You can also look for other dentist-led treatment options such as Quick Straight Teeth.

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