Dangers of Online Aligners

Dangers of Online Aligners

Nov 2, 2023

As the digital age continues to evolve with services like Uber and Airbnb, the world of orthodontics has not been left behind. The recent surge in direct to consumer orthodontic treatments, especially at home teeth aligners, has raised questions about their safety and effectiveness. While these solutions may promise convenience and affordability, they are not without potential pitfalls. Let’s explore the lesser known risks that are associated with these DIY orthodontic treatments.

The Attraction of Online Aligners

The attractions of at home teeth aligners lie in their promise of convenience, affordability, and speed. These aligners are marketed as a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to straighten teeth without the need for regular dental visits.

The process typically involves creating a dental impression at home, sending it to the company, and receiving custom fit aligners by mail. The reduced cost compared to traditional orthodontic treatments is a significant selling point for many consumers.

Understanding the process

DIY online teeth aligners work on a simplified orthodontic process.

Typically, a company sends a kit with tools to make an impression of your teeth.

Once you send back the impression, the company creates your custom aligners in their lab.

You then receive your aligners in the mail, along with a treatment plan to follow.

This process, however, lacks the professional oversight of a qualified orthodontist, which can lead to several problems.

What are the risks?

Lack of Professional Supervision
One of the major risks of at home online teeth aligners is the absence of direct professional supervision. Orthodontists understand the mechanics behind the way bones, teeth, and gums move and grow during treatment. They are the only people who can safely and effectively shift your teeth. Without an orthodontist’s supervision, you run the risk of misaligning your teeth or causing other oral health problems.

Inaccurate Impressions
Another risk is the potential for inaccurate impressions. Since there is no professional supervision to check the fit of the aligners, you could end up wearing ones that are uncomfortable and ineffective. Poorly fitting aligners can lead to pain, discomfort, and even tooth damage.

Lack of Comprehensive Dental Assessment
Many at home online aligner companies lack the means to conduct a comprehensive dental examination before beginning treatment. Therefore, they’re unable to detect underlying dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, or severe misalignment, which could worsen with orthodontic treatment.

Most dental problems don’t present overt symptoms, such as pain or swelling, making it easy to overlook potentially serious issues.

Risk of Damage
Without the guidance of an orthodontic professional, you may inadvertently damage your teeth and gums. Teeth alignment is not a simple DIY project. It requires professional knowledge and supervision to prevent harm to your roots, gums, and teeth.

Words from the Experts

Numerous dental/orthodontic associations and experts have raised concerns about the use of at-home teeth aligners.

The American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the British Dental Association, among others, have all issued warnings against DIY orthodontics.

These organisations urge anyone considering such treatments to ask critical questions about the supervision, qualifications, and emergency support offered by these mail order companies.

Emergency Care

At home aligner companies often promise virtual appointments with an orthodontic professional.

However, the reality is that you will primarily interact with a customer service representative. If you do encounter a problem during your treatment, it could take several days or longer to schedule an appointment with a doctor, and diagnosing the issue online could prove challenging.

In an emergency, immediate professional intervention is essential, and this is not always possible with at home treatments.

The Safe Alternative - Professional Orthodontic Treatment

For those looking to straighten their teeth, professional orthodontic treatments remain the safest choice. A qualified orthodontist can conduct a thorough examination of your mouth, identify potential issues, and provide tailored treatment plans. Regular check ups ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned and any issues are quickly addressed.

Professional treatments offer a range of options to suit unique needs, including traditional braces, clear aligners, and Invisalign. These treatments are conducted under the supervision of experienced professionals, ensuring the best results for your smile.


While at home aligners might work for some people with minor misalignments, the risks are high. The lower price and convenience are often outweighed by the potential harm to your dental health. If you’re considering these DIY treatments, ensure you ask the right questions and understand the potential risks involved.

It’s essential to understand these risks before opting for DIY orthodontic treatments. Always seek the expertise and care of a licensed professional to safeguard your smile. Remember, your oral health is an investment that deserves the best care possible.