Dental trend could wipe smile off your face
THE rising popularity of an over-the-counter product could have frightening implications for people's orthodontic health, a top body has warned.
The rise of over-the-counter aligner products being sold in Australia, with retail shop assistants scanning the customer's teeth, has sparked an outcry from Orthodontics Australia, the public advice arm of the Australian Society of Orthodontists.
"Similar companies have been operating in the United States for several years and have been heavily criticised by consumers and industry groups for over-promising and underdelivering on treatment results," a spokesman from Orthodotnics Australia said.
"Although lower cost and apparent greater convenience may seem appealing compared to traditional orthodontic treatment, you can expect to get what you pay for.
"This means the final treatment outcome can be poor, and you may then need a specialist orthodontist to fix the resulting problems, at extra cost to you."
Consumers need to be aware that while many of these services claim to use the expertise of a trained "dental professional" this often isn't the case, or it may be a dental technician not located in Australia.
As part of this service, consumers typically have their teeth scanned at a retail outlet by a shop assistant or are mailed a DIY kit to take impressions of their own teeth.
The scans or moulds are then used to create a course of clear aligner trays that are sent directly to the consumer to administer themselves.
"This method doesn't account for variations in people's teeth and does not allow for any adjustment to the treatment once the aligners have been sent," the spokesman said.
"In addition, no X-rays are taken to assess the health of the teeth and surrounding bone, so there is no way to determine if the proposed tooth movement is safe or even feasible, or if the tooth roots, gums and bone
are healthy enough to tolerate tooth movement."
The experts say that by the time the consumer realises that there has been an error, their
teeth and gums may be damaged, leading to even more costly remedial orthodontic procedures and in some cases, corrective surgery.
"Teeth straightening is a complex medical procedure, and requires a proper pre-treatment assessment and ongoing supervision, just like any other healthcare procedure," he said.