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DIY Mail-Order Aligners vs. Invisalign Treatment: Doing Your Research

Invisalign aligners were the first of their kind to hit the market over 20 years ago. In that time, they’ve continuously led the field in innovative, nearly invisible orthodontic care. Recently, new brands have cropped up offering direct-to-consumer clear aligners, which are mailed to the customer at home and do not require them to see a licensed orthodontist in-office.

Clear aligner therapy is gaining in popularity as an orthodontic treatment option.  Who doesn’t love the idea of orthodontic treatment that is clear, comfortable, and removable?  But, before moving forward with aligner therapy, just as with any other healthcare decision, it’s important to do proper research.

In today’s world almost anything we want is available at our fingertips and tooth movement with clear aligners is no exception.  Mail-order aligners are advertised everywhere today and it’s likely you’ve seen ads from at least a few companies while perusing social media, surfing the web, or streaming your favorite show.  However, it’s important to note that mail order aligners are quite different from Invisalign treatment you would receive from a trained, board-certified orthodontist.

Continue reading to find out how.

Are Mail-Order Aligner Brands Cheaper than Invisalign? 

Actually, no.  Mail-order aligner brands offer 6-month clear aligner treatment for around $2,000-3000 but, there’s a catch: this price does not include some of the key aspects of treatment such as the cost of X-rays, diagnostic records, additional aligners for refinement or more complex cases, attachments for aligner grip to ensure predictable movements, or final retainers – not to mention direct in-office supervision by a licensed orthodontist.  Since only mild cases can possibly be completed in 6 months, additional aligners (refinement) may be needed to achieve your smile goals, and these would require an additional fee to be paid separately or risk finishing treatment without achieving optimal results.

Some Invisalign providers offer a mild-to-moderate “Express” case treatment option for around $3,000, which includes all aligners, X-rays, diagnostic records, attachments, and final retainers. The add-on costs required for effective treatment with mail-order aligners mean you may end up paying much more than the original price tag.

Lower prices also mean lower quality materials.  Mail-order aligner brands do not have access to patented Invisalign technology like SmartTrack™ material, so they use generic plastic for their clear aligners.   They boast that their aligners are made with BPA-free plastic, despite the fact that all brands of FDA-approved clear aligners are BPA-free.

Insurance options are limited for mail-order aligners – a small reimbursement, if any – whereas in-office Invisalign treatment is more likely to be covered up front, and a larger portion covered since you see a licensed orthodontist during your visits.  This can make a substantial difference in your out-of-pocket cost of the Invisalign treatment.

In summary, mail-order aligner brands are not always cheaper than Invisalign treatment – with all the extra costs necessary for effective treatment, less insurance coverage, and lower quality materials and lack of proper supervision of your treatment, the true difference in value becomes clear: you would be paying more, for less.

You will get more total value from in-office, orthodontist-supervised Invisalign treatment than from mail-order aligners, due to both the comprehensive care of Invisalign aligners and the pace of mind gained from seeing and speaking with your orthodontist during visits. 

 How Do I Learn More About Invisalign Provided by a Board-Certified Orthodontist? 

Call Parkside Orthodontics, the office of Dr. Rebecca Kuperstein, today at 503-236-3800 to schedule your complimentary consultation.  Dr. Kuperstein is a leading provider of Invisalign clear aligner treatment in Portland, Oregon.  She has been certified since 2002.