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Dentists warn about damage caused to teeth by clear braces

Jake Massey

Published 
| Last updated 

Dentists warn about damage caused to teeth by clear braces

Featured Image Credit: Daria Kulkova / Andrei Kravtsov / Alamy

Dentists have warned of the potential risks of wearing clear braces ordered online.

Many people are turning to aligners as a relatively affordable and convenient means of improving attaining the 'perfect smile' - and many customers have been left delighted with the results.

However, not everyone has been so lucky.

The braces are growing in popularity. Credit: Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
The braces are growing in popularity. Credit: Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Jamie, a dad from Glasgow, spent £1,800 on aligners from SmileDirectClub (SDC) - the largest company selling clear aligners remotely - and was not required to see a dentist in person, but the treatment did not have the desired effect.

Writing on Reddit, he said: "One of my front teeth has become wobbly, my enamel feels all funny, like the aligners have rubbed some of it off, the aligners have made my gum recede making it agony."

Speaking to the BBC, he added: "I can't bite into an apple because I can't trust that my front teeth are strong enough any more."

SDC said that the 'overwhelming majority' of users have had an 'excellent experience', but dentists have warned that customers could be risking permanent damage.

Prior to the advent of services such as those offered by SDC, people would have to visit a dentist in person for 'train track' or clear braces, which would be fitted by a dentist or an orthodontist.

During this process, the health of the teeth and gums is assessed using X-rays to determine whether the roots of the teeth will be able to withstand the movement, and regular follow-up appointments allow professionals to track progress and problems.

Dentist Dr Victoria Sampson told the BBC people risk losing their teeth if gum disease or decay is not identified, with many people underestimating the force aligners put on teeth.

Indeed, she said she has treated a patient who lost one of her front teeth after wearing aligners, as the roots of her teeth were too short to tolerate the force of the aligners - an issue that an X-ray would have picked up.

Everyone wants the perfect smile. Credit: Shiny Diamond
Everyone wants the perfect smile. Credit: Shiny Diamond

The BBC also showed British Dental Association's Dr Eddie Crouch three SDC plans given to prospective customers, with 3D interactive images detailing how the aligners could modify tooth positioning over the course of the treatment.

Dr Crouch said two of the customers showed signs of gum disease, meaning the teeth could be loosened to the point they might fall out, while the third plan could have left the customer with an unstable bite.

SDC said it is the customer's responsibility to consult a dentist within six months of beginning a plan - though they are not required to provide proof they have seen a dentist.

SDC condemned the BBC report, highlighting that almost two million people had been successfully treated.

A statement shared with Tyla read: "SmileDirectClub is extremely disappointed that the BBC decided to publish a story which uses unnamed and unverified sources that we were not provided the opportunity to verify or comment on, despite requests for this information.

"Our telehealth platform has enabled successful treatment for more than 1.8 million people yet the reporter of this story refused to speak with any of the UK registered dentists who use our model to expand access to oral care for their patients, or to any of the overwhelming majority of our customers who have had an excellent experience, who have achieved a smile they love, and who have done so at a price they can afford."

Topics: Health, Beauty, News

Jake Massey
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