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Bad Impressions

A recent headline has dentists and orthodontists everywhere scratching our heads. A popular "by-mail" orthodontics company has increased its business so much, the company is claiming to be making a significant investment in more 3D printers in order to increase production of aligners for patients. But while this is good news for makers of 3D printers and the people who use them, it’s not good news for teeth.

As by-mail orthodontics continues to soar in popularity across the country (kits to start treatment will now be sold at automated kiosks inside of several major chain drug stores), more and more dentists are urging the Federal Drug Administration and the American Dental Association to take action against the companies offering these services. Why? It’s not because they’re trying to ruin anyone’s good time - it’s simply because this type of dentistry is extremely dangerous.

Hidden Dangers

It seems pretty straightforward. You buy a kit, you make an impression of your teeth, and you send the impression in to a lab. The lab analyzes the impression and gives you a price quote. If you accept, they 3D print an aligner for you, and then send it off in the mail. Then you just pop it in your mouth and voila! Instant orthodontics, right?

Wrong. First of all, there are so many things that could go wrong, even at step one. For example, you pay for the starter kit, but your treatment could cost a lot more once you get your quote back - and you won’t know how much until after you’ve sent in the kit.

Next, being that you’re only human (and probably not trained in orthodontics), there’s a high margin of error for taking your own dental impressions. This could cause problems when your molds are made, causing undue pain and improper alignment. This can cause everything from a bad (or worse) bite, headaches, jaw pain, teeth grinding, chipped or cracked teeth, and more. Talk about a bad impression.

Then there’s the problem of supervision. If something goes wrong in your treatment, who will know? A by-mail orthodontist evaluating hundreds of impressions a day may miss a minor detail that a live, in-person dental professional will catch at your appointment, and he or she can correct it before it turns into one of the problems mentioned above.

So, before you rush out and try to take your orthodontic treatment into your own hands, remember that it pays to stick with the professionals. Consult a dentist or doctor first.

To schedule an evaluation with Dr. Abelar, please call 858-866-9692.

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