mail order aligners

Should I Get Invisalign or Mail-Order Aligners?

If you have been considering orthodontic treatment, you may have asked yourself, “Should I get Invisalign or mail-order aligners?” Mail-order aligners have become more popular in the United States over the past several years. However, there are several considerations to explore when making this decision. While the direct-to-consumer aligners are mailed directly to a patient’s home and promote the “convenience” of at-home treatment, the reality is they can often cost patients more time, money, and inconvenience in the long run. There are many myths surrounding the differences between mail-order aligners and Invisalign that have caused confusion. This article will dispel some of the most common myths and provide you with essential information that will enable you to make the best decision for you.  

Myth #1: Mail-order aligners are more cost-effective

While at first blush mail-order aligners may appear cheaper, they are often more expensive in the long run. Most advertising for mail-order aligner companies promote a price that only includes the cost of the initial product. This price does not take into consideration the other necessary aspects of a treatment plan, including additional aligners for refinement or final retainers. The lower price of the aligners may also mean lower quality materials, which are more likely to become damaged or be uncomfortable. Between the extra costs for necessary add-ons and replacement aligners, you can end up paying more, for less. Additionally, many orthodontists offer payment plans and financing options, making higher quality, comprehensive treatment just as affordable each month. 

Myth #2: Insurance provides the same coverage for mail-order aligners as Invisalign

If your insurance provides orthodontic coverage, it will likely cover a portion of your Invisalign treatment. Most orthodontic offices, including Bruno Orthodontics, will assist you with understanding your coverage, insurance forms, and payments. Many orthodontic practices also help patients use tax-free funds from a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Conversely, mail-order aligners may not be covered by insurance because there is no direct supervision by a licensed orthodontist. 

Myth #3: Visiting an orthodontist isn’t necessary 

Direct-to-consumer aligners are mailed directly to patients without the requirement of visiting an orthodontist. Many patients are initially happy to avoid office visits, but the truth is, without the direct supervision by an orthodontist, treatment can go wrong. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends you seek treatment from a licensed orthodontist so you have access to the right technology and expertise to get the best results. An orthodontist is critical to the treatment plan, especially in any case that expands beyond mild changes. Mail-order aligners are limited in their effectiveness, Invisalign treatment can resolve much more complex cases.

Myth #4: Mail-order aligners work faster than Invisalign 

While some mail-order aligners claim results can be achieved in six months, this is often not the case. The length of treatment time is greatly affected by the specific case, and only small issues can be resolved in a six-month period. In fact, without the direct supervision of an orthodontist, it is extremely difficult to ascertain the treatment time. If issues arise, which may not be noticed unless there is orthodontic oversight, there can be significant delays in treatment and the potential for long-term damage to teeth. This can result in treatment taking longer than expected. 

Invisalign may seem to take longer, but that is because it is also being used to treat more complex cases—something at-home aligner treatment can’t do. The American Association of Orthodontists has issued an advisory warning against mail-order aligners due to 2,600 complaints filed against the leading brand of mail-order aligners as a result of ineffective or damaging treatment.

No matter which orthodontic treatment you choose, make an informed decision. Establish a consultation with your preferred orthodontist for more information about the options available for your specific needs.

Bruno Orthodontics offers Invisalign, braces, and other orthodontic treatment for adults, teens, and children in an award-winning office in Chevy Chase. Dr. Jill Bruno is a Diamond+ Provider for Invisalign, putting her in the top 1% of Invisalign doctors. Convenient online scheduling and virtual consults are available for new and current patients.