The risks of mail-order teeth straightening

The rise of modern, discreet orthodontic treatment options such as Invisalign® and lingual (inside) braces have encouraged more adults to seek out alternative and unconventional methods to help them achieve their perfect smile.

Some on-line companies have taken advantage of the acceptance of newer teeth straightening options that are provided by specialist orthodontists and are now selling mail-order, self-administered kits direct to the consumer bypassing the orthodontist altogether. These kits may seem appealing as people assume they will save time and money, however these do-it-yourself (DIY) devices are unsupervised and come with a number of health and financial risks that the consumer should be aware of.

What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign®, are a cosmetic type of orthodontic treatment commonly used by orthodontists and dentists to straighten teeth more discreetly.  

Any form of orthodontic treatment, whether it is braces or clear aligners, requires ongoing and regular supervision by an orthodontist to ensure that your teeth are moved safely.

For more information on clear aligner treatment and how it works click here.

What are the risks of DIY mail-order teeth straightening devices?

With mail order or DIY clear aligners, a kit is purchased online with instructions to take a mould of your own teeth. The DIY impression is sent back to the company and your clear aligners are made based on your homemade impressions.

The dangers of attempting unsupervised movement of your teeth with mail order kits include poorly fitting aligners, damage to the roots of your teeth, gum recession and tooth loosening.

Because the do-it-yourself teeth straightening process does not involve any consultation with an orthodontist prior to commencing treatment or any professional supervision during the treatment, things can go horribly wrong.

Think of the many disasters that can result from do-it-yourself home renovations!

Mail-order teeth straightening, DIY clear aligners, Invisalign

So why should you see a specialist orthodontist?

Moving teeth is complicated. Any orthodontic treatment requires careful planning and ongoing monitoring by an expert to ensure good results are achieved in a safe and efficient manner.

Some of the benefits of seeing an orthodontist if you’re wanting to use clear aligners to straighten your teeth include:

X-rays and examinations

The main component missing from these self-administered procedures is the expert consultation. A comprehensive examination and x-rays of your teeth and gums are essential to ensure that your teeth and bone are healthy enough to undergo orthodontic treatment.

Accurate impressions

It might seem simple to create a mould of your own teeth, but it is NOT as easy as it sounds. The accuracy of the initial impression or “moulding” process is critical to success of the treatment as even minute inaccuracies will result in poorly fitting aligners that will not work.


Successful treatment with Invisalign® and other clear aligner systems requires the placement of small tooth coloured buttons or bumps on multiple teeth to allow the plastic aligners to grip the teeth and move them in the correct direction. They are an essential part of the clear aligner treatment process, and without them certain tooth movements are impossible.

Mid-treatment intervention

Everybody’s teeth will move in different ways and at different rates. Therefore, even the best-laid plans may require some refinement during the process. When your aligner treatment is closely supervised by an orthodontist, they can see any minor issues developing and can tweak your treatment to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.

We all want a perfect smile so we can exude confidence, but opting for DIY at-home treatment puts the health of your teeth and gums at risk.

Remember orthodontics is a health care procedure that requires supervision to be carried out safely and effectively. Safety must always come first and that there is no substitute for quality!

For some consumers, ordering tooth aligners online may seem convenient and “cost-effective”, however the costs involved in repairing damage can far outweigh the initial investment.

The ASO urges consumers to be wary of these risks and recommends a comprehensive assessment with a specialist orthodontist before considering clear aligners or braces.