Do At Home Do-It-Yourself Clear Aligner Work?

So you are considering straightening your teeth and have seen the ads for all the at home do-it-yourself clear aligner kits. How do they work? Will they straighten your teeth? Or are you just wasting your time and money? First I would like to discuss if clear aligners work over traditional braces. That answer would be a yes, clear aligners do work very well in straightening your teeth. They are typically recommended to treat mild to moderate cases of malocclusion and can treat problems such as crowded teeth, overbites, under bites or gaps. But there are some cases that clear aligners are not a good alternative for some people who have very complex orthodontic treatment or cases that require significant movement of teeth and require traditional braces.

Half and half photo showing aligned teeth and braces.

Now how do clear aligners work, well first I start out with some preliminary photos and impressions in order to properly diagnose and treat each case for Invisalign and Invisalign Go. Then those photos and models are used to create a series of trays that gradually shift your teeth into place. Each tray is manufactured so that the teeth are slightly straighter than the previous tray. Your teeth will typically move up to 0.25 mm per tray. With at-home-kits the consumer is responsible for taking their own impressions and photos then sending them back to the company. I can tell you with the do-it-yourself mold taking it is NOT as easy as it sounds and do expect several re-do’s, ill-fitting impression trays and of course subsequently ill-fitting clear aligners. Remember if the impressions are not done correctly or right then your clear aligners will not fit correctly and therefore your teeth with not be moved and straightened correctly. When done in a dental office you also have a dental professional closely monitoring the case so that the teeth are moving and shifting correctly. And if they are not, I as your dental professional can make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan on your case. Whereas with the at home do-it-yourself kits you there is no guarantee the case will be viewed by an orthodontist or a general dentist.

Smiling woman holding invisalign tray
So remember when you eliminate the doctor from the treatment planning and actual treatment process, you are essentially eliminating many of the safeguards that ensure you are properly treated. As a doctor I swear to a “do no harm” oath whereas the CEOs to these at home do-it yourself aligners do not. Also, most orthodontists including myself offer free consultations, if you are considering orthodontic treatment. So it is worth your time to be diagnosed by a professional and have all options presented to you, so that you can make a wise decision to get that amazing smile you always dreamed of.


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