Invisalign

DIY Orthodontic Treatment - What to know before you consider being your own orthodontist

February 25th, 2019

DIY orthodontic treatment has been expanding quickly with new companies entering the market all the time. While it may seem like it is harmless to straighten your teeth on your own, the truth is that unsupervised health care treatment can have negative effects. As an orthodontic specialist and an expert in the art and science of moving teeth to create amazing smiles and healthy bites, I am obviously biased. Nevertheless, I believe as a  professional, it is my duty to my community to shed light on some of the things the DIY companies fail to talk about. Let's break down the three most common reasons people participate with DIY orthodontics from both sides!

First, let's take a look at some of the real reasons someone might consider the DIY option:
1) Cost - all of these companies market against one another for the cheapest solution and thus use the cheapest means to deliver the treatment. However, they don't have many of the costs an orthodontic office has with team members, an office space, and the latest in-office dental technology. This makes for a cheaper alternative to seeing a professional.
2) No appointments - no visits to the doctor's office means that you get to do all the treatment from your home and can progress the treatment as it fits your own schedule.
3) Convenience - for the first molding of your teeth, they will send you materials to your house so you can do the molding yourself. Then, the aligners are delivered directly to you.

While the reasons may seem valid and make sense, there are some issues with this reasoning:
1) Cheaper materials means you will likely get lower quality treatment. While this may not matter at first, when the result is low quality, you may wonder how much money you actually saved for getting a less than ideal result. As they say, you get what you pay for : )
2) When your care is not supervised by an orthodontist, you are responsible for monitoring your own outcome and the side effects of treatment. If you aren't aware of what to look for, you may end up in a worse spot than where you started. For example, you may have closed the gap in your teeth, but now your bite does not fit together. Or you may have corrected that crooked tooth, but now there is excessive gum loss. Orthodontic appointments in our office are typically pretty short and painless - they are worth it to ensure the best result.
3) While it may be convenient to do all of this in your pajamas at home, you should really have a professional exam and x-rays prior to starting. There is a lot of nuance to orthodontic treatment. Even if a company claims you will have a "doctor assigned to you," if you don't know whom he/she is, how can you be sure they really care about your outcome? It is all up to you!

A few other considerations:
1) In our office, we use Invisalign which incorporates a series of attachments on the teeth along with other appliances to ensure a smooth experience and a great result. Attachments are bonded to your teeth to help them move. DIY orthodontics may work for some very limited and minor movements, but chances are if you want a more dramatic change, you will need something more robust to complete the complex tooth movements.
2) Orthodontic treatment can be a significant expense and we acknowledge that. However, we offer very flexible payment plans and we will work with insurance to keep the cost very reasonable. When you break it down, it might not cost that much more to see an orthodontist and in fact, with insurance, it may not be much different than a DIY company's cost.

While DIY orthodontic treatment may be tempting for a few reasons, I encourage you to seek an orthodontic consultation if you are curious about straightening your teeth. We don't charge anything for a consultation, so it is very low risk! We can guide you and educate you on the best way to achieve your goals, and we can save you time and money in the long run.

I have some patients that attempted the DIY route prior to coming to our Downers Grove office, and every single one of them wished they didn't waste the time or money trying to go it alone. The advertising makes it sound so simple and easy. But, how often do you cut your own hair? There are so many things that we could do ourselves, but we know if we trust someone with experience, the result will be so much better!

Now go out there and find your neighborhood orthodontist : )

- Dr. Zach

Retainers for LIFE : )

August 19th, 2018

Many people are surprised to learn that the teeth continue to move throughout life. This always leads to many questions about retainers and keeping the teeth straight. Let's dive into a few common questions.

Why do we need retainers?
Retainers help keep the teeth straight after they have been aligned with braces or Invisalign. Our teeth are held into the bone by ligaments, and over time as we age, our bones and ligaments change. As these changes occur, our teeth will unfortunately move.Example of teeth that shifted due to lack of retainer wear. We corrected the teeth with Invisalign, and placed a "fixed" retainer glued to the back of the teeth to prevent future shifting.

What types of retainers are there?
Retainers come in many shapes and forms. In our office, we use three main types of retainers. We use "fixed" retainers (AKA glued retainers, bonded retainers, permanent retainers) in many cases to hold the lower teeth straight. We use these retainers often because the lower front teeth tend be the teeth most affected by crowding as an adult. We use clear retainers (AKA Essix retainers, Invisalign retainers) in most cases, and these retainers wrap around the entire surface of your teeth like a mouthguard. In some cases, we use Hawley retainers (AKA wire retainers) which are made of acrylic and wire. Depending on your circumstance, we recommend what is best for you and give you options.

Will may retainers last forever?
We wish they could last forever, but just like anything else - glasses, shoes, etc. - they will wear out over time and need to be replaced. They tend to last longer if they are well maintained and cleaned regularly. If you need to have them replaced or feel that some teeth are shifting, make sure to call us to replace it before teeth move too much.

How long do we need to wear retainers?
The honest answer is you need to wear them as long as you want to keep straight teeth : )  Everybody is different, and some people may experience very minimal shifting without retainers while others will see lots of shifting. Unfortunately, we cannot predict whose teeth will move and whose will not, so many orthodontists now recommend "lifetime retention" to ensure a beautiful, straight smile. Dr. Zach is definitely on board with "lifetime retention" and he still wears his retainers to keep his teeth straight.

Think of this way: If you wear glasses or contacts, you must use them in order to see. They are simply a tool to help you see more clearly. Retainers are essentially the same thing: they are just a tool to help keep your teeth straight. So when you go to bed, you wear retainers as part of your maintenance to your body. It's that simple!

Wear your retainers : )
- Dr. Zach

7 Common Questions About Invisalign Clear Aligners

June 15th, 2018

Clear aligner treatment, like Invisalign, is another tool that we use to straighten your teeth and give you an awesome smile. As someone who has gone through Invisalign treatment myself, I can tell you that is relatively easy and well worth the investment. While many people are familiar with braces, we get a lot of questions regarding Invisalign. Here are just a few of our most popular questions:

How does Invisalign work?
Invisalign is a series of clear, plastic retainers that put pressure on the teeth in order to move them. Each one has a small movement built into the shape of the aligner, and progressively over time, the slight changes in shape lead to dramatic changes in your smile and bite.

What are the "bumps" or attachments on the teeth?
For most cases, small attachments or "bumps" are glued to the teeth with transparent dental filling material. This material is the same thing dentists use to fix cavities on your teeth, and they are removed at the end. The small attachments allow for more complex movements of the teeth to ensure we can deliver the result you deserve.

Are my teeth going to be sore?
Any time we apply pressure to a tooth, it will be sore. Teeth don't know whether they are being pushed by braces, Invisalign, or a retainer. The adjustment period is usually about one week at the start of treatment, and it can be easily handled with a softer diet and over-the-counter pain medication.

How often do I wear them?
In order to be effective in changing your smile, they must be worn at least 22 hours per day. There really is no exception to this rule as teeth need constant pressure to change their position. They are removed for eating and brushing, and each aligner is replaced by a new on a weekly basis in most cases.

How long does the total treatment take?
Invisalign treatment time varies based on the complexity of your treatment. Some cases require more movement and bite correction. A typical Invisalign treatment may range from 4 months for small movements to 24 months for complex movements. However, the average time in treatment is usually around 12 to 15 months.

Does dental insurance cover Invisalign treatment?
Yes - if your dental insurance has orthodontic coverage, the benefit may be used for braces or Invisalign. This is great news as you can choose the treatment option that best suits you and your lifestyle. We offer flexible payment plans which makes treatment much more affordable than people expect.

How do I know if Invisalign is right for me?
Invisalign treatment does require excellent participation during treatment, but the benefits are huge! If you would like to change your smile without compromising esthetics or your diet, Invisalign may be a great choice for you. The best way to find out if you are a candidate is to schedule a complimentary consultation with our office.

Want more information about your Invisalign experience with our office? Give us a call or send an email - we are always happy to help : )

- Dr. Zach

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