Invisalign is the pioneer clear aligner system to address orthodontic problems. Backed by cutting-edge technologies and advanced patented systems and materials, Invisalign has achieved huge success in orthodontics treatments. It has been around for over 20 years in the market.
Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners which you fit over your teeth to gradually shift the crooked and misaligned teeth into the proper position. It has also been an alternative to traditional metal braces to straighten teeth, most commonly due to invisibility and removability characteristics.
Direct-to-customer (DTC), mail-order aligners
Today some people often ask about other alternatives available. There are some companies offering their aligners with cheaper price tags. They work remotely or through affiliated shops, which you either provide them the impression of your teeth or have your teeth scanned for the aligner trays fabrication. They are often called at-home, mail-order, DIY, or direct-to-customer aligners
Key differences between Invisalign and DTC/mail-order alternatives
Cheaper does not necessarily mean the best all the time. We will explore more the main differences between Invisalign and direct-to-customer aligners or mail-order aligners. Let’s get into more details about the key facts and what separates Invisalign from these types of aligners.
1-Seeing a dental professional in person
Invisalign is an in-office aligner treatment done by an orthodontist or a trained dentist. You meet your orthodontist at the dental clinic and face-to-face. With Invisalign,
- You have in-office monitoring of your progress.
- Treatment is done and supervised by a licensed dentist or an orthodontist.
- There are regular intervals during which your teeth are evaluated regularly. At this time, possible tooth movements are predicted, the bite is checked and any problem that pops up will be handled by your orthodontist.
DTC or mail order aligners are mainly at-home systems or self-treatment DIY methods. Usually, there are no in-person visits to a dental clinic and therefore no requirements to see a professional licensed orthodontist in-office. Some companies have physical locations to give you the aligners while others send the aligners online and work completely remotely.
- DTC aligners have usually no in-person monitoring and regular visits to an orthodontist
- There are typically no medical examinations like X-rays or other diagnostic work to detect signs of gum diseases and other underlying oral and dental problems. They may ask you to visit a dentist first or they may not.
- Their at-home method can neglect the dental issues that could arise during the treatment.
- Mail order companies may not be responsible for any dangers that can happen to your teeth. At its best, they may just refund you with the aligners purchase.
2-Mild to complex cases
Invisalign can treat mild to moderate and even some complex cases. The new improvements in Invisalign aligners fabrications and techniques have made it possible for more complex orthodontics issues to be treated. But there are sometimes situations that traditional braces can be recommended as well, like for severe bite problems.
Generally, mail-order aligner systems work only for milder forms of treatment. They have limitations and cannot correct every type of crooked tooth.
3-Higher or cheaper aligner costs
Invisalign may sound higher in price at the first sight because it usually costs from $3,000 to $7,000. This price can vary depending on each case. But once you realize that the price comes with a safe, effective, and more reliable treatment plan, it may not be as high.
Plus, there are can be dentist’s plans, savings plans, and other options to decrease the costs. You can read our article on whether insurance covers Invisalign.
DTC aligners are cheaper in price and can cost between $1,500 to $2,000. Additionally, these companies may offer you to pay in monthly payments.
And since there are possibilities of lack of professional consultations with a licensed dentist, regular in-person orthodontist’ supervision, and other crucial oral and dental health requirements, it is possible that your treatment may lead to a compromised result. Thus, there can be the need for retreatments which not only adds up to your costs but can raise unwanted health risks.
4-Patented innovative technology
To be able to move teeth into alignment, Invisalign has improved its own aligner system over the years. It uses innovative ways to align teeth into correct positions.
Besides advanced 3-D imaging and scanning, Invisalign uses:
- ClinCheck® computer program to reconstruct the digital model of your teeth
- Smart Track® system to make high-quality clear plastic trays
- SmartForce® attachments which are white bumps on the aligners designed to make even difficult teeth rotate to the predictable positions
It is true that not all Invisalign competitors are the same. You may find advanced technology and better-quality aligners in some Direct-to-customer brands. While some DTC aligners may have 3-D digital modeling to fabricate and plan aligners, others may still use a DIY impression at home.
Due to so many brands available in the market, you should ask your orthodontist before trying any of these mail-order aligners. Poor material, old technology, and conventional methods of mold taking are some drawbacks that may exist with these mail-order aligners.
Frequently asked questions around Invisalign alternatives
Invisalign is one of the best aligners to treat crooked teeth due to some reasons. It incorporates advanced and cutting-edge technologies into orthodontic aligner fabrication. Invisalign is capable of treating more diverse orthodontic cases from mild, moderate, and more complicated cases. It has been actively used as an alternative to braces for many years in the market and is received well by many people.
And most importantly, like any usual professional dental treatment, Invisalign is done in-person and by an orthodontist.
If Invisalign is not your option due to costs and other personal reasons, the best alternatives can be braces or other in-office aligners. Visit your dentist and seek professional medical care beforehand, and straighten your teeth with dentist-approved orthodontics.
Whatever you choose, you should consider your safety first, be aware on your decision, and get an orthodontic treatment that is acceptable by orthodontists.
American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) puts forward some basic considerations, questions and answers which will help you make better decisions regarding online orthodontic companies.