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Don’t Waste Your Money on At-Home Straightening Kits

Smile Direct Club

If you are on any type of social media, chances are good you’ve seen advertisements for some braces-to-mail companies. These companies offer the advantages of Invisalign clear aligners, but without ever having to leave your house. But can you really get that dream smile without ever setting foot in an orthodontist’s office?

Dr. Michael Stosich, a Chicago-area orthodontist and clear aligner expert, says no.

“Being able to get a straighter smile without ever having to see an orthodontist sounds tempting to a lot of people,” says Dr. Stosich. “But even though you may think you are saving time and money, the reviews don’t add up. There are so many intricacies that go into the tooth straightening process, and working without a highly skilled orthodontist may leave you with a smile no better than what you started with.”

Dr. Stosich offers several things to think about before opting for braces-to-mail or other DIY orthodontic treatments.

  1. Don’t be fooled by price. There is a reason why an orthodontist charges the prices he does, and it isn’t simply because he wants to line his pockets. There is a lot of careful planning and precise work that goes into providing patients with the smiles they’ve always wanted. Often times when it comes to orthodontics, you get what you pay for. So, if you aren’t willing to spend very much on your smile, be prepared for a smile that is less than ideal. See also this post: Mail Order Braces: Is your smile worth the discount?
  2. How accurate can an impression you do yourself be? Braces-to-mail companies tempt consumers with the idea of never having to leave your home. That means you take the impression that your clear aligners will be made from. If you don’t have a dental background, how can you be sure you are doing an accurate impression that will provide the company all that is needed to create aligners that will meet your needs? In person 3D scans are available, but only in select areas, and these braces-to-mail companies doesn’t explain the backgrounds of the people who do the scans.
  3. Who is looking at your impressions and crafting your treatment plan? On the website of these braces-to-mail companies, it says a dental professional reviews the impressions, but who is this person and what is his or her experience? Are treatment plans crafted as a one size fits all remedy, or is each plan custom created to meet the individual needs of the patient? American Dental Association ADA discourages and strongly warns against any practice of Do-it-Yourself orthodontics (click here to see the article) because of the permanent damages that it can create for the patients.
  4. If you never have a visit with anyone, how can you be sure your smile goals will be met and that your treatment is on track? The beauty of having a relationship with an orthodontist is that you can discuss, in person, what your ideal smile will look like. Then, your orthodontist crafts a treatment plan to meet those goals, using his or her expertise. And then, throughout your treatment, you’ll have follow-up appointments to ensure the treatment is progressing as it should. Sometimes, an orthodontist may find that a patient’s mouth simply isn’t responding to treatment the way it should, so some alterations need to be made to the original plan. How can that happen if you never see an orthodontist during your treatment?
  5. You won’t be able to use your insurance benefits. Because this is at-home treatment and you are never physically seen by an orthodontist, you will pay the entire cost (typically around $2,000) out of pocket. In order for your dental insurance to cover the cost, you must be treated and seen by an orthodontist in his or her office’s clinical setting. And what you will pay out of pocket for braces-to-mail won’t be much different than what you would pay out of pocket for expert level care from Dr. Stosich.
  6. The reviews speak for themselves. If you are wondering about if these braces-to-mail companies really work, just take a look at review website Real Self. Here are some samples:

As a current customer, who has paid in full, I’m telling you to go in not expecting much. Shipments are constantly delayed (up to a month or more), and you will get the run around (and false promises) from every person you to talk to- all the ways up to management. You are also never kept in the loop; no emails (after your first set) about when to expect your next month’s aligners.

This makes a total of two at-home impressions ( or is it 3?) this has been such a long tedious process that I don’t even know anymore. I trekked into the city to get a 3D scan for my refinement and it STILL didn’t fit. I reached out to them and they’ve finally gotten back to me after a month and my relentless hounding. WARNING: if you think you will be able to be passive in this treatment you won’t. You have to reach out to them CONSTANTLY.

I can’t begin to express my anger and frustration. After shlepping into the city again i had to call and call and call and call to get my aligners expedited and guess what! They still didn’t fit. I called and they asked me send pictures. I really just want straight teeth so I tried to take the pictures but they are really hard to get them how they want them with the lighting and the parts of your teeth they want. So I took like 10 more pictures and they emailed me back saying THEY WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH.

The only way to guarantee a straight, properly functioning smile is by visiting an orthodontist,” says Dr. Stosich. “I know my patients are busy, so I make sure my office offers convenient appointment times and we work hard to ensure that every appointment is as efficient as possible. We also work with each patient to find a treatment and payment plan that can fit in every budget.

There are no shortcuts to getting a beautiful smile, and at-home treatment can simply create additional frustration when the end result isn’t what you had hoped. Dr. Stosich is a leading area expert of tooth movement, and his treatment plans are backed up by careful, scientific planning. His patients see beautiful results in less time than many others, because Dr. Stosich offers the most advanced and efficient treatment found anywhere. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Stosich at Stosich Consulting today, 847-548-4200.


  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting