5 tips for successful results with Smile Direct Club

At-home orthodontics is disrupting the traditional dentist-patient model

At-home orthodontics is disrupting the traditional dentist-patient model

Are you interested in at-home orthodontics? You’re not alone! Much in the same way that Invisalign disrupted the traditional orthodontics market with their invisible aligners, companies such as Smile Direct Club and Candid have taken it a step further with their direct-to-consumer model. Smile Direct Club has done a tremendous job with marketing, and not a day goes by where we don’t see their Facebook Ads, TV Commercials, and Kiosks strategically placed at drug and department stores. While these companies have started a polarizing debate within the dental community, the reality is that at-home orthodontics is here to stay, and we are entering a new era of accessibility and transparency when it comes to dentistry.

What’s my opinion? Well…as a consumer I think it’s great that lower cost options are available and the market is driving down the cost of accessible orthodontics. As a doctor however, I can’t help be concerned when there is no oversight and accountability for patients that don’t follow the prescribed treatment plan. These companies may have good intentions, but it’s equally important for the patient to keep on top of their treatment and check in with their consultant.

I am seeing more and more patients in my chair who are using Smile Direct Club or some of the other available options. Even if the patient doesn’t explicitly tell me they are undergoing treatment, there are usually some tell tale signs that make my spidey-senses tingle. My recommendation is to keep up with your regular check ups, keep in contact with your Smile Direct Club or Candid treatment coordinator, and don’t be shy to tell your regular dentist that you are using one of these services. While we cannot make any modifications to your treatment plan, we can at least help you be healthy and work together on aftercare once your treatment has completed.

Here are a few things that I have observed in practice. These are also mentioned on the consent forms for Smile Direct Club.

  • Gum Recession - Untreated periodontal disease, ill fitting aligners, and the rapid movement of teeth can all lead to gum recession. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease or gingivitis, make sure you get that treated before starting with a DIY orthodontic program. If your aligners are cutting or rubbing against your gums, call your treatment planner.

  • Excessive Caries - Wearing aligners can trap food and plaque that may lead to caries. Teeth movement can also tighten up the space between teeth, thus making it more difficult to floss properly. Consider brushing more often and using a Waterpik to dislodge any trapped particles.

  • Broken Crowns / Restorations - If teeth move too rapidly, you run the risk of breaking or damaging existing restorations. Make sure you disclose any existing crowns or veneers with customer care before starting your treatment.

  • Black Triangles - “Black Triangles” are the gaps between the bottom part of the gums and the teeth that may appear after orthodontic treatment. These can easily be corrected using chair-side cosmetic techniques such as BioClear.

  • TMJ / Misaligned Bite - I have had a few patients that became concerned that their teeth no longer touch properly. In some cases, the back teeth have moved enough such that they no longer touch when chewing. TMJ issues may also arise, leading to symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, and vertigo. If this occurs post treatment, see your dentist for further instructions.

Bottom line: Stay vigilant about your treatment and wear your aligners as instructed. If teledentistry is available, make sure you don’t miss any appointments. Don’t skip your hygiene checks with your regular dentist either. It’s important to stay on top of your oral health!

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (858) 490-4281

If you tried to do Smile Direct Club or Candid but are not a good candidate, there are other lower cost options available to you. New alternatives to Invisalign have popped up that cost less, give great results, and includes doctor monitoring. Same results for 30% less!

Good luck with your at-home orthodontic journey!

Kathrina Agatep