If you find yourself hiding your teeth while your friends are showing off their pearly whites, an at-home tooth straightening kit may seem like a good option to get the smile you want. After all, in the past two years, we’ve become used to doing a lot of things at home, things we never imagined would be possible—so why not this? 

But are these kits really a viable alternative to in-person care? By taking a closer look at at-home tooth straightening vs. orthodontic care, you’ll see why transforming your smile shouldn’t be a DIY project.

At-Home Tooth Straightening Kits

The introduction of clear aligners in the 1990s changed the way we think about teeth straightening and allowed people of all ages to get the smile they want. In recent years, the introduction of at-home tooth straightening kits promised to revolutionize teeth straightening once again by eliminating the need for orthodontist visits and allowing you to undergo aligner treatment in the comfort of your own home.

At first glance, at-home kits can seem very appealing. Most don’t require in-office visits before, during, or after treatment. Check-ups are completed remotely. And because treatment does not involve extensive expert oversight or in-person appointments, an at-home tooth straightening kit may cost less than orthodontic care. 

However, these kits are far from an ideal solution and come with significant downsides:

  • Unpredictable results: While the lack of in-person monitoring may be convenient, it can seriously compromise your results. Relying solely on scans, impressions, and virtual visits means that nuances may be missed and you lose out on valuable opportunities to fine-tune treatment.
  • Limited scope: At-home kits are only designed to treat minor alignment issues and cannot be used to address more moderate to complex cases.
  • Lack of comprehensive care: Treatment with an at-home tooth straightening kit is standardized and does not take into account other oral or overall health issues you may be experiencing (such as bone loss or gum issues)
  • Potential for Damage: Without the direct supervision of an orthodontist, aligners can actually damage your oral health. As the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) says:

Orthodontic treatment involves the movement of biological material, which could lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss, changed bites, and other issues if not done correctly. 

DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, president of the AAO, adds:

What most people don’t understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and re-builds as teeth are moved into their new positions. Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an assessment, including complete diagnostic records.

For these reasons, the AAO advises against at-home tooth straightening kits. 

Your smile deserves more than an at-home kit. That’s why tooth straightening should always happen under the in-person guidance of an orthodontist. 

The Value of Orthodontists

If you want to transform your smile, an orthodontic practice is your biggest ally. Drawing on years of training and experience, they will:

  • Fully assess your needs and goals
  • Identify issues that digital scans or impressions can’t reveal
  • Answer any questions you have
  • Create a truly personalized treatment plan based on a holistic understanding of your health

If they determine that clear aligners are right for you, they will create an appropriate treatment plan and map out each movement in each tray. This is a very specialized process. And aligners aren’t their only tool; orthodontists use a variety of innovative methods to achieve the best results, which allows them to take on complex alignment issues and offer accelerated treatment options. Regardless of what your treatment entails, they will continuously monitor your progress, make any necessary refinements, and help you stay on track.

With an at-home tooth straightening kit, you are essentially left in charge of your own orthodontic journey, sometimes with unintended consequences. But with the care of an experienced orthodontist, you aren’t alone; you have an expert guiding you every step of the way.

  At-Home Kit Orthodontist
Results Unpredictable. Treatment typically does not account for underlying conditions or issues that arise during treatment. Predictable. Treatment is designed with a holistic view of your health and progress is continuously assessed to achieve the best results.
Type of Care Absent or remote consultants; no in-person consultations. Comprehensive in-person care from start to finish.
Cost May not be covered by insurance. Covered by many insurance plans.
Scope of Treatment Minor to moderate cases only. Minor, moderate, and severe.

Get the Treatment You Deserve

Whether you have dental anxiety, want to minimize costs, or just don’t know how you’ll fit office visits into your busy schedule, an at-home tooth straightening kit can seem like a great option for finally getting the smile you want. But tooth straightening is a specialized medical service that can have a tremendous impact on your physical and emotional health. An orthodontist will ensure you get the best possible outcome so you can enjoy the results for years to come. 

At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we offer personalized care and exceptional treatment experiences. From cutting-edge orthodontic techniques to flexible scheduling to a comfortable office environment, we make sure that every aspect of your care works for you. With our guidance, you get the treatment you truly deserve and a smile you’ll love.