Are "Do It Yourself" (DIY) Aligners Safe?

These days almost everyone has heard of "Do it Yourself" Aligners (DIY), also known as "Direct to Consumer" Aligners (DTC), thanks to the over $100 million spent in advertising by some of the biggest DIY Aligner companies in the last year alone. But the question every individual should ask is: is this a good option? And, is this safe for me?

One should be very careful when considering using one of these companies because there is not always the best doctor supervision, and if things go wrong, you could be left stuck.

Limitations of DIY Aligners:

One of the biggest limitations of DIY Aligners is the lack of direct doctor-to-patient care and supervision. Because you are not seeing a doctor in a physical office, they are unable to take x-rays to ensure that there are no hidden problems underneath your gums. See the x-ray below for an example:

x-ray of teeth

In this case, if the patient simply started using DIY Aligners without addressing the "impacted canine" teeth stuck underneath the gums, it could lead to permanent loss of the patient's front teeth.

Additionally, because you are not seeing a doctor in an office, they are not checking for cavities or overall gum health which are necessary before starting to move teeth with aligners. Moving the teeth before they are in a healthy state can also result in the permanent loss of teeth.

Lastly, because everything is being done at home, the aligners themselves are very limited in what they can accomplish. When you see an Orthodontic Specialist, they are able to customize your treatment plan in a way that will move your teeth both safely and effectively.

Orthodontists are able to add these little "tooth-colored buttons" (also known as attachments) onto your teeth which help the aligners snap into place and also guide the teeth with certain difficult tooth movements. Without these attachments added, the aligners are severely limited in what they can achieve. An example of what the attachments look like can be seen below:

model of teeth

How Far We’ve Come:

When Invisalign first came out over 20 years ago, it did not have any attachments and was very limited in what it could do. As of today, Invisalign and Spark Clear Aligners can treat almost any case due to the advancements in technology and attachments. However, the majority of current DIY Aligners do not use attachments and are basically as limited as Invisalign was 20 years ago.

Would you really want to be using outdated technology when there are newer, better alternatives available?

What should you do?

Make sure to consult with an Orthodontic Specialist before making any decisions. Orthodontists specialize in the movement of teeth and creating straight, beautiful smiles. At Happier Smiles Orthodontics we offer FREE In-Person and Virtual Consultations to determine if you are a good candidate for aligners, and we take the time to discuss which option would best fit your lifestyle.

Schedule your free consultation today to learn more!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions either via text through our website or by emailing

Dr. Neelab Anwar (“Dr. Nee”) is a Board Certified Orthodontist and the founder of Happier Smiles Orthodontics in San Marcos, California.
Learn more about Dr. Nee

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