In the quest for the perfect smile, mail-order aligners have surged in popularity, promising a swift and economical route to straightened teeth. These services typically unfold over a 4-6 month period, involving about 20 sets of aligners. But the recent bankruptcy of Smile Direct Club casts a shadow over this booming industry, raising questions about the true value and effectiveness of mail-order aligners and the merit of professional orthodontic consultation and treatment in a traditional orthodontic office

The Lure of Convenience and Cost: A Surface Appeal

Mail-order aligners are enticing for obvious reasons: they’re convenient and often cheaper than traditional orthodontic treatments. The average cost is significantly lower than the fees charged by orthodontists. For many, the ability to avoid regular office visits is a huge plus, especially in our fast-paced, time-strapped world.

The Reality of Professional Oversight

However, the cost and convenience factors can be misleading. Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about the physical aligners; it’s about professional oversight and a sound orthodontic treatment plan. Orthodontists spend years in specialized training, learning to understand the complexities of tooth movement and jaw alignment.

The orthodontist expertise is about more than cosmetic improvements; it is essential  for ensuring a correct and healthy bite. This aspect of the case is often undervalued;  until problems arise.


The Cautionary Tale of Smile Direct Club

The bankruptcy of Smile Direct Club is a red flag. It underscores potential risks and shortcomings associated with mail-order aligners. While this doesn’t necessarily mean all such companies are flawed, it does highlight the importance of thorough research and consideration before choosing this route.

The Unseen Costs

There’s more to consider than just the sticker price. The treatment length for mail-order aligners is significantly less than the average orthodontic treatment, raising the question about the detrimental effect to overall oral health. In some cases, patients who have used mail-order aligners have needed additional, costly orthodontic work to correct issues that arose while using the mail-order aligners or were not adequately addressed during treatment. This not only adds to the cost but also extends the time and effort required to achieve the desired results.

The Verdict

So, are mail-order aligners a good value? The answer is for a few patients, with only minor alignment issues and no underlying dental concerns, they might be a suitable and cost-effective option. However, for the majority of patients, the risks and potential for additional costs and complications suggest that seeing a qualified orthodontist is a wiser, more value-conscious choice.