When you invest in online aligners, you are likely to be asked to fill in a survey with some patient photos to compare your own teeth to, so that the specialist that reviews your application can decide the severity of your case. In some instances you will be asked to send several photos, showing your teeth and the inside of your mouth. The risk with this is if your photos don’t show specific anomalies or may not clearly demonstrate misalignment. When you visit a dentist or orthodontist in person, they check for gum issues or disease and that roots are healthy, whereas this can’t be done from photos or video calls alone.
You will then be sent a kit to create moulds of your teeth yourself at home. These kits come with clear instructions, but there is no professional in the room to oversee how you take the impressions of your teeth, which means that there is a risk for mistakes to be made, which will impact the accuracy of the aligners that are sent to you. One large brand offers the option for patients to visit their nearest ‘shop’ to have a digital scan taken (for an additional cost), which removes the ‘ease’ element of ordering aligners online, and isn’t so different from seeing a regular dentist or orthodontist.
You may be sent all of your aligners for the whole treatment at the same time, clearly numbered so that you can change them every 2 – 3 weeks, or you may be sent your next aligner one at a time throughout your treatment. Most brands offer a few online appointments with your specialist throughout the process, although some online reviews by past patients of big direct-to-consumer brands have stated that they were either never offered these, or that their specialist often wouldn’t turn up and might fail to rebook their appointment.
At the end of treatment, you check-in with your online dentist and purchase your retainers (at additional cost). Then you are off into the world with your ‘new smile’.