Before going on to provide all the important information required for you to make an informed choice and decision, we would like to clarify that we do not have any financial interest in any clear aligner company and the opinion expressed here is based only on experience and patient feedback. Our aim is to make sure you have all the correct information and facts before deciding on what suits you best. As dental professionals, we are trying to make sure everyone has access to knowledge and guidance from industry experts. This will enable you to make an educated decision and to avoid potential issues and even harming yourself.
What is Smile Care Club all about?
The Smile Care Club is almost like a mail order business wherein you mostly end up treating yourself without the supervision or guidance of a trained orthodontist. Instead of going to a dental office and getting the required pre – clinical work like impressions and models and photos done by a trained specialist, you do these yourself at home and ship them. Your impressions are then looked at by a doctor that you have never seen and never will see. He or she will design appliances without talking or looking at you in person. Clear trays are fabricated and sent back for you to wear at your own risk. The Smile Care Club does not take any responsibility for any outcome of the treatment and does not guarantee any outcome either positive or negative. The responsibility is all yours. You are the master of your own ship and responsible for the risk you are willing to take. In addition to this, there is no way to design an appropriate retention protocol for keeping your teeth from moving back.
Any orthodontic treatment with braces or clear aligners, consists of three parts:
- Diagnosis: Talking to the patient, evaluating the patient, taking necessary records such as radiographs, impressions or scans of the teeth and bite; intraoral and extra oral photographs. What is most important is proper communication here. Doctor will go over all the benefits and limitations of treatment. The doctor will listen to the patient and examine all records and only then the doctor can design a proper course of treatment and plan of treatment.
- Second step is the treatment itself. This usually takes time, depending on the severity of case and difficulty of movement. During this stage, regardless of what treatment tools are used such as metal, clear braces or clear aligner therapy, the patient comes in to the office on a monthly basis or sometimes more often. The monthly visits are to identify any unwanted and potential issues on time and to modify the treatment if necessary on the timely manner. Sometimes, patients come in for some emergencies, for example, if a tray is destroyed or lost, the patient needs a new tray as soon as possible and comes in for a same day tray that could be fabricated in the treating dental office, while, the patient is waiting for his clear aligner replacement to be delivered from the lab. This will ensure that the treatment will not be affected in any manner while the patient is waiting for the replacement. Just imagine if a similar situation arises when you opt for the Smile Care Club. What happens if a tray is lost, does not fit or is destroyed? Who will fabricate a retainer? It can’t be fabricated virtually unless the patient has a scanner to scan his or her teeth and a 3 D printer that is very expensive. So, the whole treatment time and money could be wasted right there. Generally speaking, the more often the patient comes into the office, the more control the doctor has over the case. Just remember, clear aligners or braces are just tools in the hands of the doctor and without proper management, those tools become useless.
- Third and final stage is retention. This stage is probably the most important part of the treatment. Without properly designing the retention protocol, all previously discussed parts of treatment could be wasted. The teeth have memory and will shift back to the original position if they are left on their own without using a retention appliance to hold them in the new position. In addition, as the person gets older, natural changes occur in the mouth as well and teeth shift as a result of those changes. Therefore, it is paramount to design a proper retention protocol. Most of the time, the patient will require a so called bonded or fixed retainer and not just the last tray to wear during the night like Smile Care Club offers. Most of the patients will need a combination of removable and permanent retainers in order to keep the results that were achieved during years of treatment. Generally, an established orthodontist will offer his or her patient years of retention checks to make sure that the retainers are doing their job and the teeth are staying in the proper position. Who will offer this service in Smile Care Club situation? No one. So, after counting how many extra services and benefits a patient gets in an established orthodontist’s office compared to the Smile Care Club amount, actually the patients get much more for a much better price if you compare apple to apple. It is a complete value for your money kind of a deal.
Is the Smile Care Club methodology a safe option for orthodontic correction of teeth?
Smile Care Club is not cheap. Thin about this, for almost a thousand dollars you are buying some plastic trays only. Nothing else! It is very expensive, actually when you compare the price to what you actually getting. All the risk is yours to bear for the unsupervised and unguided treatment that you subject yourself to. Simply wearing clear aligners may help move teeth, but it may not be into esthetically, functionally and physiologically harmonious and stable positions. The results of such DIY methods can be irreversible and harmful. Either you can play your own doctor or let the real doctors help you to get the smile that you desire by planning, executing and closely monitoring your treatment from start to finish. The treatment also has a retention stage post the removal of braces, wherein retention appliance usage and follow up visits are required to ensure that the teeth remain in their new positions for good. This kind of care is only available when you go to a regular orthodontist for treatment. Do not waste your time and money on do it yourself orthodontics. It is not just wasting time, it could be dangerous for your dental health as well.
If the Smile Care Club saves me so much money, why should I go to an orthodontist for treatment?
One must understand that money is just a commodity, while care and health are not. The results of care under a trained orthodontist who has studied many years to gain expertise in the subject of moving teeth in a scientific manner is in no way comparable to some quick fix, DIY, risk filled aligner therapy that looks appealing just because it is priced less. In the hands of an experienced orthodontist, aligners are just a tool and the whole process of treatment is a custom designed and perfectly planned, scientific procedure that is designed just for you, keeping in mind your needs, gum condition, oral and other systemic health conditions etc. It is not a blind process with one method fits all kind of approach that the Smile Care Club seems to employ. Plus, regular follow ups ensure treatment stays on track and if any extra care or instructions are to be incorporated in the treatment process.
It is essential to be aware that moving teeth is a very precise art and science and requires many years of study and experience to perfect. The Smile Care Club program may allow you to feel empowered to carry out your own treatment, but it is as good as trying to play a professional gig with an instrument you were never trained to play. There is a reason why orthodontists need to mandatorily qualify and get a license to practice. Programs like Smile Care Club defeat this purpose of trying to bring standardized, professional and high quality care to the table and it is dangerous for the dental health of the users. I would not recommend anything like that.
The Smile Care Club option is almost like a DIY option that saves me lot of time and effort. So, when I do not have time to spare, this is the better option for me. Going for frequent follow up appointments to the dental office is highly inconvenient. I prefer the “stay at home and treat yourself approach”. Isn’t that great?
The idea of “stay at home and treat yourself” might sound appealing, but at the end of the day, there is only so much one can do. Orthodontic care is a team effort. A successful smile transformation occurs only through the coordinated efforts of your orthodontist, lab and x-ray technicians, assistant staff and you. So, the time spent with the professionals is well worth it. Inconvenience is just a matter of perception as the advantages of professional case handling far outweigh the risks associated with the “be your own doctor” approach.
If I go for regular braces, I need to spend time and money to visit the doctor for an initial consultation visit which is not mandatory with the Smile Care Club option. So, is it really necessary to have your mouth checked before wearing braces?
An initial consultation visit is one of the most important as it helps to check if your teeth, gums and mouth are in good health to undergo orthodontic treatment, it helps to understand your expectations and helps the doctor to give you some idea of what to expect so you will not be disappointed. Your teeth will be evaluated for cavities, mobility, bone loss etc. and the surrounding tissues for any inflammation, pockets or unhealthy conditions that need to be addressed before orthodontic forces are applied to your teeth. Any local or systemic condition that has not been looked into before treatment planning can jeopardize the outcome. If all these factors are not taken into account before proceeding with the treatment, then the chances of damage to the teeth and surrounding structures increase considerably. One might end up spending more time and money to get them treated later on and the treatment would require a multi-disciplinary approach leading to unnecessary costs and pain. Remember, fixing an issue that was created by someone else, is much more expensive and time consuming than properly correcting the problem the very first time.
No two cases are the same and even if the problem appears to be the same, the treatment approach and plan could be totally different based on various factors like socio-economic factors, psychological factors, physiological factors etc. The time and cost also varies with the type of braces that the individual opts for. The orthodontist recommends the suitable options for the patient after doing an in-depth evaluation and studying the patient’s history and current condition.
Don’t you think when I am treating myself, I will be more aware of what is happening and in a better position to control things the way I want rather than trusting an orthodontist to figure out what is best for me?
The orthodontist is a trained specialist who is an expert at correcting and guiding teeth into their correct positions using materials and forces that are applied based on scientific methods and knowledge. If at any point of time, things are not going according to plan, then the orthodontist is well equipped to identify the problem and do some course correction. The idea is not about being in control of your treatment but surrendering to an expert to do what he or she does best.
When you are undergoing treatment by yourself, you are just blindly following some basic care instructions. You will not be able to identify anything going wrong in the initial stages itself. By the time you become aware about a problem, the damage might be done and it might be too late to take corrective action. The simple fact is problems need to be nipped in the bud. The most qualified person to do so is an orthodontist and no one can dispute that.
Isn’t the Smile Care Club program similar to the Invisalign program offered at the dental office?
The similarity and ends in the fact that clear aligner trays are used for treatment and the theory that teeth can be moved under constant pressure into desired positions. But, it is important to understand that the expertise of the doctor is what counts as the trays are just tools in the hands of the orthodontist. The treatment plan is custom designed to suit your needs in the most scientific manner. The only thing you can do at your end is compliance and following your doctor’s instructions.
With the Invisalign system, the treating doctor is the one to design all trays and attachments, with Smile Care Club, someone else will design them in a hope those clear trays will fit you and fix the issues you are having with your teeth and smile. Sometimes, even when the doctor has designed the trays himself and when they are inserted for the first time, a lot of minor adjustments need to be made to ensure that they fit properly without hurting any soft tissues. All this is done immediately in the office itself. Later on, all adjustments and changes are need based as decided by the expert depending on the tooth movement and other changes. In the Smile Care Club approach, you are your own doctor and would be clueless if any adjustments are needed in between or if the trays do not sit comfortable in your mouth when you wear them for the first time.
Why shouldn’t I choose the Smile Care Club program over the regular orthodontic care program if the ultimate results are going to be the same?
Unlike the Smile Care Club program, the regular orthodontic care program provides you the comfort and security of knowing that your treatment is being monitored by an expert and desirable results are guaranteed. This expert will take responsibility for the outcome. If something goes not according to the plan, this export could interfere and correct the issue. The whole process is designed to get the best results without causing any damage to the surrounding tissues and structures. The results obtained are physiologically stable and chances of relapse are minimal. You can be rest assured that your time, effort and money were well spent and you got the best value for your investment. Plus, you receive all the support and help you need during the treatment with your dentist or orthodontist being available to address any concerns and fix them as and when they arise.
Why is the cost disparity so high if the Smile Care Club and invisalign technologies are so similar in terms of the materials used and their function, look and feel? Am I just paying extra for the office décor and staff? I could do without that.
The cost disparity has more to do with the time, care and risk free results provided by a qualified and licensed expert than with the office décor etc. With the Smile Care Club program, you pay your money and are responsible for all the risk you subject yourself to. In addition, you are not getting proper diagnostic records, nor any bonded retainer, not getting any retention follow ups. So all you get is some plastic trays. If you count how much you are getting for your money in the orthodontic office compared to what you get from Smile Care Club, going to a well-established orthodontist in your neighborhood will actually cost you much less.
Doesn’t it make more sense to put your money where results are guaranteed and your mind is at peace knowing expert care and guidance is available when required? You are paying for completely supervised, results where you do not have to stress about dilemmas like how, when, what next? Or undergo any anguish or trauma if things do not turn out as expected when all the risk and responsibility for the outcome rests on your amateur shoulders. Since with the Smile Care Club program you never get to see a doctor and you are the one responsible for any outcome, does it even make sense to attempt making such a drastic change to your dentition and smile by not consulting an expert? Would anybody attempt a technically difficult surgery on themselves or anyone else just because someone says a doctor will guide them remotely through it? Orthodontics is one of the most technical subjects in dentistry and the precision and technicality is not easy to replicate at home.
What are some of your recommendations to those thinking over Smile Care Club option?
Education and information are the most important tools that can help you make well-rounded, informed choices and decisions. Visit one or two or even three orthodontists in your area for their opinion and suggestions. Most of these consultations are complimentary anyway. Also, one can make use of the free online consultation tool available online such as the one we offer at http://diamondbraces.com/free-virtual-consultation/ to consult an orthodontist from the comfort of your home without even stepping out. You just get an opinion but not remote treatment. It is ok to have an online opinion from an expert. All you need to do is upload some pictures as instructed and fill out a simple, basic form and one of our orthodontists will get back to you. It will cost you nothing at all but a peace of mind. We believe a well-informed and educate patient is a better patient and we can work together smoothly to achieve treatment goals.
Clear aligner therapy not a commodity, but simply a tool in the hands of an experienced orthodontist. The tool itself will not work without knowledge and experience and control over the care. Whenever one comes across anything that claims to provide quick fix solutions at lesser cost and in shorter times, one must think about the pros and cons of opting for such procedures/methods. Just because it is a cheaper alternative does not mean that it is the better or the correct option for you. Any day the job done by a professionally qualified and licensed dentist who has studied 3-4 years extra to gain specialized knowledge in the field of orthodontics would be a smarter choice to make than paying your own money and risking it with a DIY approach that might end up in a situation where you are completely unsatisfied with the results. You might in fact have to spend more time and money to get things fixed and this time by going to a qualified and licensed orthodontist, which you could have done in the first place itself.