What’s the Deal with the DIY Invisalign Scandal?

invisalign question

I’m presently undergoing Invisalign treatment through my dental office. However, I just caught something in the news that said Invisalign isn’t safe and that the American Dental Association is suing them and that they’re also going after dentists who say anything bad about them. This is really freaking me out. Is my treatment unsafe? Should I quit? I’d ask my dentist but I’m afraid he won’t give me a straight answer if there are lawsuits involved.


A Concerned Patient

Dear Concerned,

It sounds like you’re actually referencing a story unfolding with SmileDirectClub and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). SmileDirectClub is a company which sells clear aligners online, but does so with minimal oversight from a dental professional.

It’s Not Invisalign, But the Company Does Make the Aligners

SmileDirectClub isn’t the only company offering a DIY orthodontic solution with clear aligners, but they are one of the most recent to cause a stir to the point it made national news. In this particular case SmileDirectClub is using aligners manufactured by Invisalign, but that’s about where the affiliation stops as far as any credible reports have shown.

The AAO Cautions Against ANY Kind of DIY Ortho

A notice from the AAO posted by the ADA says:

“The American Association of Orthodontists is urging consumers to beware of Internet videos and websites which encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth. Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervision by an orthodontist. Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss or other objects ordered on the Internet. Moving teeth without a thorough examination of the overall health of the teeth and gums could result in the permanent loss of teeth, which may result in expensive and lifelong dental problems. Orthodontists receive two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school and are specialists in straightening teeth and aligning the bite.”

There are Several Ongoing Legal Issues

On the one hand, many dentists and dental groups are speaking out about dental treatments that are not performed in an office under the direct supervision of a dentist. A few which have mentioned SmileDirectClub by name have reportedly received letters from the company telling them to take down their content and threatening legal action. Meanwhile, the AAO has filed complaints in 36 different states over the practices of the company.

Treatment Prescribed By and Overseen By Your Dentist is Safe

The main concern with DIY ortho and treatments offered online is that the amount of care and oversight is diminished compared to visiting a dentist in person. As one dentist pointed out, those who do online treatments don’t even have x-rays taken much of the time, which is a very basic standard operating procedure in dental offices. It lets the dentist see exactly what your teeth and jaw look like. Lack of regular checks could also spell out trouble for those who aren’t progressing normally or who have complications during treatment. In other words, nobody is really arguing that the aligners are unsafe. The concern here is that they could be used incorrectly and cause harm, perhaps with long-term consequences. That concern is mitigated when a doctor has seen you in person and checks on you throughout treatment.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin. Dr. Sirin’s comprehensive family practice provides top-notch preventative care, restorative dental services, and cosmetic dentistry.

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