DIY tooth aligners lead to problems


According to studies, four out of 10 people get clear aligners, 50 percent more than those who get braces.

BENGALURU: The increase in demand for dental aesthetics has led to fewer orthodontic patients and more patients with after-effects. The increase in the easy availability of do-it-yourself (DIY) tooth aligners directly to customers will lead to irreparable damage to the users say orthodontists.

Masirah Khan, who used tooth aligners from toothsi, posted on Quora that she could not reach the toothsi team when she suffered from a toothache during her treatment.

“I was on my sixth aligner when my front teeth started to shake with a sharp pain. When I called them regarding the same at first, they did not reply but after several calls, they finally connected me with a doctor who asked me to go on with my aligners.”

She added, “After the pain persisted for over 10 days, I visited my regular dentist who told me that my gums have receded and my teeth do not have the necessary gum support. This was caused by extremely tight and inappropriate teeth aligners.”

Masirah Khan is a resident of New Delhi, and is currently using aligners prescribed by a dentist after proper observation and consultation. .

Clear aligners or tooth aligners are transparent aligners used to improve teeth alignment by moving teeth in proper positions. They can be produced from medical-grade plastic, such as polyurethane, polyethene terephthalate glycol, and polyvinyl chloride. They are used by children, teenagers, and aged people for treating, crooked or misaligned teeth. 

According to studies, four out of 10 people get clear aligners, 50 percent more than those who get braces. And two out of 10 people shift to clear aligners from braces.

Dr. Sharat Megh, a pediatric dentist in Kolkata said that braces are advised on the basis of X-rays and various other factors which include the growth of the teeth, spaces between teeth and more. “Today’s generation is attracted to technology and has everything available at their fingertips,” he said.

A dentist from Vadodara said, “We give aligners when there is malalignment. They are designed using software which determines tooth movement. It depends a lot on the tooth movement which can only be recommended by a dentist.”

Dr. Lavanya, a dentist in Bimili, Visakhapatnam, said, “For any movement of the teeth to take place, a patient needs to have bone strength. The type of movement should be diagnosed by the orthodontist and then a step-by-step treatment should be given. But people tend to use instant methods which lead to after-effects.”

The doctor from Vadodara said, “The teeth alignment might not get hampered and the tray might not settle on all the teeth with such aligners. Consulting an orthodontist after suffering from the side effects of using an aligner increases the expenses.”

Dr. Sharat said, “People think dentists charge excessively. With this misconception, people depend on online applications.”

“It might happen that two out of 10 cases might be fine using these aligners, but the other eight come back to orthodontist or dentist. After purchase, there are some companies like toothsi that provide home visit to help you with aligners but they do not have the correct instruments like doctors,” said the dentist from Vadodara.

Dr. Pruthvi Raj Hanthur, consultant orthodontist in Bengaluru said, “We move every tooth with the help of orthodontic appliances which is a balanced diagnosis. But when it comes to aligners, the gap between teeth might re-occur if a person stops using them. If one needs results for a lifetime, it is always suggested to consult an orthodontist.”

He added that the concept of aligners is not as easy as shown in the advertisements, one must be meticulous.

Dr. Pruthvi said that he has come across many cases, especially youngsters, who have used the aligners, and consulted him for re-treatment. “People usually come back with gum bleeding, which is because of the patient’s negligence of not following instructions on using aligners. Also, there were a few cases of teeth relapse, which is completely due to aligners that were self-prescribed.”

The orthodontist suggested, “It is always better to have braces than aligners, as aligners need more care and maintenance.”