DIY Orthodontics – Unethical or just Dangerous?

There are many Do It Yourself home projects that can be fun, rewarding and thrifty. Many people enjoy creating a garden and or working on craft projects at home. Adventurous DIY enthusiasts may even make their own yogurt, laundry detergent or wine!  However, most of us would cringe at the thought of Do It Yourself dental or medical procedures.  Yet there are multi million-dollar companies offering these services and I find it extremely concerning (at best) and these procedures have the potential to be extremely dangerous.

The low down on DIY orthodontic companies:

-         These services are offered via direct mail or kiosks in salons, spas or even Macy's

  • Orthodontics is being wrongfully lumped into the same category as makeup and anti-aging beauty products.  While having a nice smile is part of enhancing one's beauty, moving teeth is much more invasive and can have serious negative consequences if done without dental supervision.

-         The employees in the kiosks are usually trained in sales with ZERO dental experience

-         Once the sales agent obtains impressions of a willing customer’s teeth (or done at home with a box of mailed goop), cases are sent overseas for review

-         No doctor exam is required and the companies are not being held liable for cases that have gone wrong

The most dangerous aspect of DIY orthodontics is that many of their customers are receiving treatment moving their teeth when they have much more serious dental needs that are being ignored. Without a dentist performing a comprehensive exam, the uninformed customers could have gum and bone disease, broken teeth, deep cavities, infections or any number of issues that will not be addressed by the aligner company. Without the supervision of a dentist, conditions could worsen and teeth could be lost that could otherwise be saved. When teeth are moved, different factors need to be taken into consideration, even in a perfectly healthy mouth. Moving teeth can cause bone loss and gum recession that sometimes cannot be reversed and this entire process should be overseen by a dentist or specialist.

When these cases go south, there is no dentist for the dental board to hold responsible and customers are often left out in the cold with much larger problems than a few crooked teeth. Unhappy customers are usually only offered a refund in return for signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement.  I have reviewed one of these companies' Non-Disclosure Agreements that their unhappy customers must sign and it states: “Releasor shall not post on social media any information or reviews regarding the Transaction…. And agrees that he/she has not filed any complaint with any local, state or federal agency or regulator, and will not do so.” This peak behind the curtain should be all anyone needs to know about the integrity and intent of these dangerous companies.

At Moore Dental at Lewis Center, we want our patients to receive the best possible care and receive a comprehensive consultation before moving forward with any orthodontic procedures. We still leave complicated tooth movement to orthodontists, the trained experts. When a patient’s needs are less complicated, we can help them achieve an esthetic result with clear aligners at our office. We provide a comprehensive dental exam to address all of a patient’s dental needs and help our patients obtain dental insurance coverage when they are eligible.  DIY orthodontic companies are not allowed to bill dental insurances. If you or anyone you know is interested in talking with me about improving their smile, have them contact our office for a free consult. Whatever you do, please leave the DIY projects to crafts and gardens and not medical and dental procedures!

Cheers to dental health,

Dr. Cliff Moore

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