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How good are at home braces?

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Medically reviewed by: Dr Anthony Lam BDS (Hons), MSc (Lond), MOrth RCS (Edin)

29th July 2020
At-home braces

The difference between at-home and in-practice teeth straightening

Over the past couple of years, multiple at-home teeth-straightening kits have come to market and are being promoted across all social media platforms and national TV as a new solution to straighten teeth. As experts in teeth straightening, we’ve been asked by many people if they’re safe and effective and how they work. Read on to understand how at-home straightening kits work and how the experience differs to in-practice teeth straightening.

How does at-home teeth straightening work?

Typically, you do an online form to if you’re deemed suitable by the provider and then you’ll receive an impression kit in the post. Using the kit, you take moulds of your teeth and send these back to the provider for analysis, alternatively, some providers have smile clinics that you can attend for a digital scan.

After your impressions are reviewed, you’ll receive a set of clear, removable aligners in the post. When you finish your treatment, in some cases, you’ll be offered removable retainers to wear at night. We always recommend you seek a thorough examination from an orthodontist before investing in any teeth-straightening treatment.

Are at-home teeth straightening kits safe and do they work?

At-home teeth straightening kits include clear aligners and are aimed at people with minor orthodontic issues only. What concerns us, is that some people are seeking at-home teeth straightening for complex orthodontic issues, which is completely inappropriate and could do more harm than good.

Choosing the wrong type of orthodontic treatment, or having it when your teeth aren’t suitable or healthy, could cause permanent damage to your teeth, so always seek professional guidance from an orthodontist.

What are the main differences between in-practice and at-home teeth straightening?

The most significant differences between at-home and in-practice teeth straightening treatments are:

  1. The Options: At-home teeth straightening kits include clear aligners aimed at minor orthodontic problems only. At Orthodontic Gallery we can give you guidance on all available orthodontic treatments, which are the best for you and can treat complex cases.
  2. Treatment journey: When you get your teeth straightened at an orthodontic practice, you attend regular appointments and your treatment and alignment is closely monitored.
  3. Reassurance: Some people aren’t confident following a teeth-straightening plan at home. Seeing an orthodontist in practice often gives people reassurance that their treatment journey is overseen by a specialist.
  4. One-to-one care: When you attend a practice you can ask questions; the orthodontist monitors your progress and adjustments can be made to your braces if necessary.
  5. Price: There is only a small difference in cost, which reflects both the type of teeth straightening technique being used and the care involved.

With orthodontic treatment in practice, you’ll see a specialist orthodontist for an initial consultation, as well as regularly throughout the course of your treatment.

During your treatment, typically you’ll see your orthodontist every six to eight weeks. They keep an eye on your progress and dental health to ensure you get the results you want. It isn’t always easy to predict how the teeth will move during orthodontic treatment, so regular appointments with an expert allow for alterations to your treatment plan if needed.

If necessary, your orthodontist can adjust your braces throughout your treatment, which could involve small tooth-coloured attachments or reshaping your teeth to get the best result.

What are the benefits of having your orthodontic treatment in practice?

The three main advantages of having your teeth straightened at Orthodontic Gallery are:

  • Our Clinical expertise – you benefit from a detailed one-on-one consultation by a trained orthodontic specialist and ongoing care.
  • Greater choice – you get access to a wide range of orthodontic treatments, and your orthodontist will help you choose which is the most suitable for you.
  • Safety – your orthodontist will take X-rays and clearly explain which type of braces you’re suitable for, so you can decide which is the best option for you and answer any questions you might have.

What are the benefits of having at-home teeth straightening?

The two main benefits of using at-home teeth straightening kits are considered to be:

  • Cost – you don’t have ongoing consultations with an orthodontist and the kits are not used for complex cases, so this marginally affects the price.
  • Convenience – you don’t need to find time in your diary for appointments and consultations. You take the moulds yourself at home and receive the braces and retainers in the post.

Who can legally perform teeth straightening, and who regulates at-home teeth straightening kits?

In the UK, orthodontic treatment is carried out by a dentist or orthodontist who is registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).

One of the UK’s leading orthodontic societies, the British Orthodontic Society, has raised concerns about home-straightening kits and the lack of clinical supervision you receive with them.

Will at-home teeth straightening treatment last?

Typically, no orthodontic treatment lasts without an effective retention programme, this means wearing retainers after your treatment to make sure your teeth don’t move back.

I’ve used an at-home teeth straightening kit and it hasn’t worked. What should I do?

You should find out who’s responsible for fixing treatment issues with at-home kits as soon as possible.

If you have treatment in-practice (in the UK) your care is closely monitored by a UK-based GDC registered specialist who takes responsibility for your treatment.

Want to discuss your orthodontic options?

One of our treatment coordinators will be happy to meet you for a free consultation to discuss which treatment options would suit you.

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