A woman holding a clear aligner

There’s an app for everything these days — including aligning your teeth. DIY dentistry has become increasingly popular in the past few years, and at-home aligners are one of the most sought-after treatments. These orthodontic solutions promise a straight smile at a low price and without the need to visit a dentist.

Many of our patients ask whether at-home teeth aligners are safe and effective. The short answer is that they can work for some people with minor misalignments, but there is a real risk of making the problem worse. Aligning teeth is a complicated process, and it is difficult to manage without an in-person consultation with a professional. 

Here is everything you need to know about these aligners so you can decide whether they are worth the risk.

How Do At-Home Aligners Work?

These DIY aligners claim to work similarly to their in-office counterparts. A company will send you a kit with all the tools you need to make an impression of your teeth. Some companies have in-person locations to make these impressions, but an office may not be available in your area. 

Once you send back the impression, the company will send it to their lab to create your custom aligners. You will receive your aligners in the mail with a treatment plan to get started.

Why Are At-Home Aligners Cheaper Than Professional Ones?

The first thing that attracts patients to these mail-order aligners for adults is their low price compared to dentist-supervised aligners. There are several reasons for this price difference.

  1. You receive fewer aligners. In many cases, mail-order companies promise results in just a few months. Unfortunately, this is often wishful thinking. Straightening a smile takes at least 6-9 months for most adults, and many patients need 12 months or longer. If a company skips intermediate steps or rushes you through the stages too quickly, the treatment may be ineffective.
  2. The orthodontic scans are insufficient. It is cheaper to make a quick mold of your teeth and send it to a lab. At a dentist’s office, however, patients receive digital scans and panoramic X-rays that can reveal complexities in the misalignment that would not easily show up in a mold. A doctor can add attachments or adjustments to aligners to treat patient-specific issues, and these customizations are unavailable in rapidly produced mail-order kits.
  3. You do not have access to emergency dental care. At-home aligners may promise access to virtual appointments with a dentist, but the reality is that you will primarily interact with a customer service representative. If you do have a problem, it may take several days or longer to schedule a telemedicine appointment with a doctor, and he or she may have trouble diagnosing the issue online. Dentist-supervised treatments do cost more, but they include regular, in-person check-ups with a dentist to address any issues.

    In this regard, at-home teeth aligners are not as safe as dentist-supervised ones. If you have pain with an at-home aligner kit, the best advice is to remove your aligners until you can see a dentist, but, of course, this delays your treatment.
  4. At-home aligners are limited in what they can accomplish. At-home kits are only designed to fix the front teeth. If you have severe misalignment, an at-home kit will not have the tools to properly — and safely — address the problem.

The Downsides of At-Home Aligners 

DIY aligners may be an alternative when you can’t afford dental work. They’re convenient, easy to use, and may fix minor misalignment problems. However, they have downsides you must consider. 

No Dental History or Context

Most companies have dentists on their teams who can answer your questions online. Keep in mind, though, that these dentists will not have access to your full dental history. They are not the ones giving you regular exams and cleanings, and they are not going to be aware of other oral health issues that may impact your treatment. 

At-home aligner companies won’t provide a full consultation. They won’t evaluate your mouth or X-rays to ensure you don’t have other problems before beginning the treatment.

No Checkups 

With in-office treatments at Definitive Dental, Dr. Peter Guirguis will schedule follow-up appointments for you. These checkups will allow the dentist to fix any issues and ensure your teeth are moving correctly. You won’t get routine checkups with at-home aligners. This lack of professional supervision can lead to serious dental problems.

Consider — if aligners can move your teeth in the right direction, they also can move your teeth in the wrong direction. Improper application of aligners can sometimes make the problem worse. You may end up with a misaligned bite and untreated gum disease. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) even urges patients to practice caution since these aligners can contribute to tooth damage. 

Incorrect Fit

While you may find at-home teeth aligners that are safe and proven effective, they may not fit correctly inside your mouth. This is another risk with at-home aligners that happens due to incorrect impressions. Since there is no professional supervision to check the fit of the aligners, you will end up wearing ones that are uncomfortable and essentially non-effective.  

More Damage and Costs Down the Line

Teeth alignment is not just another simple DIY project. Orthodontics is a complicated field that requires the supervision of a dentist. You may cause irreparable damage to your roots, gums, and teeth if you accidentally hurt them while attempting to straighten your teeth. This damage means more treatments and expenses down the line, not to mention all the hours you have to spend in a dentist’s office.   

Are At-Home Aligners Worth the Risks?

A gloved hand making a clear aligner

At-home aligners may work for some, but they’re not for everyone. You will essentially be your own dentist and supervise the entire treatment. This is a frightening task prone to errors. So the lower price and convenience are not really worth your dental health.

If you’re adamant about performing this cosmetic dentistry procedure yourself, make sure to ask these questions from the company:

  • Will they consider your dental X-rays when crafting the treatment plan?
  • Do they have an experienced orthodontist to supervise the fabrication of your at-home aligners?
  • Is an emergency dentist on their team to see you in person whenever you have problems?

Be cautious of their answers. If they sound dishonest or doubtful, know that the at-home teeth aligners they offer are not safe.

Why Visit a Professional for Aligners

Visiting an experienced dentist for invisible aligners is always the safest choice. Here’s why.

A Complicated Process

Taking impressions is not a task for beginners. Sometimes even professionals have trouble capturing the margins. However, dentists have more experience and the tools to make a correct impression of your mouth. As mentioned, your primary dentist also has some context. They will know if your impressions match your previous X-rays and dental work or if something went wrong and they need to take the impression again.

Specialized Care

At-home aligners don’t take your bone and teeth structures into account. A professional dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth and refer you to an orthodontist if your bone structure requires it. Another aspect DIY aligners don’t consider is other dental issues like root resorption. If your teeth shift too aggressively or quickly, their roots will shrink and won’t be able to hold the teeth in place. A professional can help you avoid these issues. 

Definitive Dental – A Safe Option for Teeth Alignment

 A woman with aligned smiling

In conclusion, some at-home teeth aligners from reputable companies are safe, but most dentists caution against unsupervised at-home aligners.

It’s best to visit a professional where dentistry is done right to be completely safe. Dr. Guirguis and his team at Definitive Dental can help straighten your teeth with aligners for a better small. Contact us now or call (972) 646-0660 to schedule a consultation and take your smile to new heights! 

A woman lying on a sofa smiling with whitened teeth

Teeth whitening is one of the quickest and most popular ways to enhance a smile. It’s an easy, non-invasive procedure that works for almost everyone. But how much does teeth whitening cost, and is it really worth the price?

Many of our patients are curious about the cost of teeth whitening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including the cost without insurance. While professional treatment is more expensive, it has several key advantages over at-home whitening methods.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a simple cosmetic dentistry procedure that removes yellow staining and restores teeth to their original white color.

Teeth naturally darken as you age, but they can stain for many other reasons, too, including:

  • Dietary habits, such as frequent consumption of coffee and soda
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications
  • Teeth grinding that leads to small cracks in the teeth

Because some teeth darkening is natural, yellow-tinted teeth are not necessarily indicative of any serious oral health issue. Many of our patients in Dallas-Fort Worth opt for teeth whitening simply as a cost-effective way to boost their self-confidence and have a more aesthetically pleasing smile. 

Teeth whitening can cost anywhere from $5 to several hundred dollars depending on the type of procedure and how extensively you wish to treat the tooth staining. 

How Much Do Different Teeth Whitening Procedures Cost?

A man receiving professional teeth whitening treatment Filename: man-professional-teeth-whitening-treatment

There are multiple teeth whitening options available. The cost of each teeth whitening procedure varies with and without insurance. In general, you’ll pay less for at-home treatments, but in-office teeth whitening is much more effective even though it has a higher cost.

At-Home Teeth Whitening

The biggest advantage to an at-home treatment is that you can do it yourself. These teeth whitening options are affordable even without insurance, but they do come with some drawbacks and even risks to your oral health.

Whitening Strips and Toothpaste

Whitening strips and toothpaste are available at any pharmacy. A whitening toothpaste uses a peroxide agent to bleach your teeth, and this teeth whitening method only costs $5-$15, depending on the brand. Teeth whitening strips work similarly and cost around $35 for a package.

While these methods are safe in moderation, they only address minor, extrinsic stains. You won’t be able to remove deep, internal stains just with toothpaste.

At-Home Whitening Kits

A more advanced at-home treatment is a peroxide-based whitening gel and mouthguard. Ask your dentist for a safe at-home teeth whitening kit. You need a professional-strength product to see noticeable results, but improper use or over-application can damage your tooth enamel.

 A dentist-prescribed at-home teeth whitening kit typically costs $200-$300. We advise our patients in Dallas-Fort Worth that it can take several weeks to see results from an at-home kit.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening is performed in an office by an experienced dentist. While these treatments do cost more than at-home alternatives, they are more effective.

Deep Bleaching

As the name suggests, this teeth whitening method is more intensive than an over-the-counter whitening strip, and the chemicals and techniques involved require professional application. In this process, the dentist will apply a hydrogen peroxide whitening agent for about 30 minutes. You may feel some sensitivity on your teeth in the few days following this procedure.

Depending on how many applications you need, teeth whitening with deep bleaching costs upwards of $300.

Laser Teeth Whitening

The quickest, most effective technique is laser teeth whitening. Our in-office Zoom! whitening uses a peroxide-based gel and a bright light to expedite the bleaching process. Hydrogen peroxide is highly reactive to light—that’s why over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide comes in a dark bottle. By using a light, we can accelerate the peroxide’s reaction and speed up the whitening process to give you noticeable results in less than an hour.

Zoom! teeth whitening costs about $500 and includes a take-home whitening kit to help you keep your teeth shining. Insurance usually does not cover this procedure.

A man and woman with white teeth

Are Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments Worth the Extra Cost?

As with many things in life, you do get what you pay for when it comes to teeth whitening. With at-home solutions, results are often short-term, and you are more likely to make teeth-whitening mistakes and even harm your enamel. Professional teeth whitening might cost more upfront, but the results last longer and require less upkeep. Plus, your treatment will be under a dentist’s supervision to make sure you are not inadvertently causing more harm than good.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost With Insurance?

Unfortunately, most insurance plans do not cover teeth whitening since it is considered an elective cosmetic procedure. Call our office to receive an estimate of the cost of teeth whitening without insurance and ask about our payment plans and financing options.

Schedule Your Teeth Whitening Procedure Today

Now that you know about your options and teeth whitening’s cost in Dallas-Fort Worth, it’s time to make an appointment and brighten your smile! Dr. Peter Guirguis and his caring team at Definitive Dental will take your smile to new heights. Contact us online or call (972) 646-0660 to see how much teeth whitening costs and schedule your consultation.

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