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What are the Top Differences Between DIY mail-order systems and Invisalign? 

With mail-order aligners, there is no guarantee that your aligners will be designed by an orthodontist.  

Mail order aligners are typically designed using a computer algorithm that is then approved by a dental professional who may not be an orthodontist, or who may not be experienced using clear aligners for patient treatment.  Many of these companies hire an outside dentist to simply “click and approve” without carefully analyzing your X-rays or taking into consideration the severity of your case. In many cases, these quickly approved aligners may cause more harm than good and that’s why there’s been an avalanche of lawsuits and dental board complaints against these mail-order companies.  None of the aligner companies require you to submit the most important orthodontic x-ray: a cephalometric x-ray.  This x-ray is critical for an orthodontist to plan how your teeth should move. Without this information, your teeth could be moved into an unhealthy or unstable position.

Mail order aligners do not consider whether you are healthy or have gum disease or cavities. 

Their order process requires you to check a box that states you have seen a dentist within the last 6 months in order to continue through to ordering. Many who order DIY aligners haven’t seen a dentist and just click the box to get their order going, not understanding that if you move teeth when the foundation, meaning the underlying bone support and gum tissues, in not healthy, contributing to higher risk of bone loss and gum recession which can lead to actual tooth loss.  Having Invisalign treatment with an orthodontist will ensure that your teeth and jaws are healthy enough to go through treatment.  If not, they’ll be able to help you get the care you need so your teeth can be safely moved without long-term consequences.

Invisalign treatment can resolve a broader range of cases, as well as more serious cases, than mail-order aligners.

With mail-order aligners, you won’t have the benefit of being able to use “attachments” with your treatment.  Attachments are small, tooth-colored bumps that are temporarily placed on the teeth to ensure predictable movement by the aligner. Some patients have teeth that require additional force outside of the force applied by the aligners in order to correctly move them. This can be achieved in an orthodontic setting by placing attachments on the teeth. These serve as anchors for your aligners, allowing them to fit more snugly to move teeth more efficiently. These attachments can help rotate teeth if necessary and can also assist with intrusion or extrusion. After the treatment is completed, we simply just polish them off.  Without attachments, usually aligners can only push outwards.  This can be unesthetic and unhealthy for your teeth.

With mail-order aligners, you may not know whether your aligners are fitting properly.

If you’ve never worn aligners before and/or are not an orthodontic professional, how will you know if your aligners are fitting properly?  In mail-order cases, there’s nobody overseeing your progress to verify that things are progressing the way they should.  Virtual checkups only provide a small area for viewing, and many fit issues are of the back teeth. Ill-fitting aligners can not only be painful, they may cause damage that you may not even be aware of, such as gum recession, bone loss, pushing the roots of your teeth out of the bone, etc.  An orthodontist will know how to help and can evaluate the fit of your Invisalign aligners to ensure proper fit and maximum efficacy.

With mail-order aligners, your teeth may not move as expected.

In Invisalign treatment, we refer to this as “tracking” – if your teeth are not following the movements built into your aligners, you can’t achieve the desired movements to reach your smile goals.  Issues with tracking can be caused by several factors.  Poor design, such as aligners designed to move teeth too quickly or in the wrong sequence, the lack of attachments, or lack of patient compliance are the most common factors.  When having Invisalign with an orthodontist, you’ll have regular in-person visits to ensure your treatment is progressing as it should.  With this regular orthodontic supervision, you will be proceeding under the assumption that everything is going as it should when in fact, it may not be.  This could damage your bite and smile and you may end up wasting months of time while also delaying positive movements.

The advantages of having Invisalign with an orthodontist are invaluable. 

You’ll have peace of mind knowing your mouth is healthy enough to pursue treatment, your aligners fit properly, and that your treatment is progressing properly with the necessary attachments and/or rubber bands to ensure the end result is a beautifully straight smile and a healthy, properly functioning bite.  You will be able to talk directly with your orthodontist and you will know that an orthodontist is providing your treatment – this helps to ensure that you will have an amazing final result you can be proud of.


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.


For more information about Invisalign products, please view the following:

MSDS – SmartTrack Aligner Material

MSDS – Vivera, Retainer, & Invisalign Attachment Template Material