Straightening out the details on a DIY smile

Date: April 2021

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

Many at-home dental aligner treatments have entered the market in recent years. With home delivery becoming more common, patients need to be properly informed about the options available in the specialty field of Orthodontics.

If you’re one of the 62% of Australian adults considering orthodontic treatment, you’re not alone. Over the last five to ten years, orthodontists from all over Australia are increasingly treating more and more adults for adult braces and other orthodontic treatments including clear aligners. While clear aligners can be used to treat many different types of malocclusion;  they are not for everyone. Many orthodontists provide free consultations to identify what type of orthodontic treatment is best for a specific patient. Unfortunately, some patients have chosen to skip this step of consulting with an orthodontist or their regular dentist. Some patients have elected to treat themselves by using mail-order aligners. While there are different products on the market, and the original set-up can slightly vary, many of the aligners come as a kit. Some companies include a consultation, others may have a storefront where a non-dental professional can take impressions which are then analysed by someone remotely. In other situations, an individual may take their own impressions at home. Leaving out a clinical examination can result in starting treatment without first addressing other dental concerns.

Benefit of supervised care

Just like any other type of medical treatment, when orthodontic treatment has been prescribed, the best course of action is planned and monitored regularly. When patients are examined by an orthodontist, a scan of their oral cavity is taken. CAD/CAM systems are designed to give an intraoral overview of the teeth and how they align. Scans can be performed during treatment, to check on progress. Routine appointments can identify whether adjustments to treatment may be  required and allow for any issues to be addressed. 

Many people have chosen the “over-the-counter” type aligners based on price. While the initial cost is less, for patients who aren’t seeing a dentist regularly or having their orthodontic progress monitored, problems can occur. If these problems are not addressed additional and unforeseen  treatment may be required which can become expensive.

Patients come to us for care. Speaking to our patients about their oral health and addressing questions they may have about that, and potential treatment, are important components of the care we provide.


- Adults have increasingly sought orthodontic treatment, investing in their smiles

- Honest, non-judgmental conversations with patients regarding their orthodontic treatment options should occur, as well as the importance of regular visits and good preventive care.

- Help patients to see the bigger picture. Orthodontic treatment can change. It’s important that patients have their treatment monitored and visit their dental professional, making sure their preventive care is also being maintained.

Making the choice to enter into orthodontic care can change not only the patient's smile, it can build their self- esteem, chewing ability and much more. Talking about the importance of an orthodontic partnership, as opposed to doing it alone, and how this can be beneficial helps to inform patients.