The charity, which has a remit to provide information and support to patients, advises that patients should always have a full clinical examination by a trained dentist before embarking on treatment.
Richard George, director of external relations, said: ‘When it comes to the health of your teeth, cutting corners is a really bad idea. Buying aligners online to straighten your teeth without a clinical examination and then embarking on unsupervised treatment is risky and could cause permanent damage.’
‘When you start treatment with an orthodontist or dentist, a full set of records is taken by clinicians who are trained in clinical diagnosis and treatment planning. By contrast, the selfies taken by prospective patients for DIY aligners and uploaded to a website cannot match this level of care and skill. Patients should be aware that there is no regulation of websites which are run by non-dentists or businesses operating from abroad and thus there is no protection for patients. The cost of treatment may be lower but the risks to health and well-being are far greater.’
Earlier in the year BOS produced a guide to orthodontics for adults. The starting point for this guidance was an upsurge in orthodontic systems resulting in confusion for patients looking for tooth-straightening.
BOS president, Alison Murray, explained, at the time, that due to extensive marketing of system-based treatments, people made up their mind what they wanted before they saw a clinician. They went into a practice and asked for a treatment which might not necessarily be in their best interests.
Dr George said: ‘It’s even more worrying that with DIY braces, patients aren’t even seeing a clinician. They are buying an online product and thinking of it purely as a route to a straighter smile. So much will be overlooked, not least the bite and facial harmony.’
The latest development causing concern is that online providers of DIY braces are asking dentists to undertake tooth-shaping prior to the start of treatment. Known as IPR, this is the process where the size of teeth is minimally reduced, usually during the course of orthodontic treatment, and it’s a technique that requires skill, care and experience. BOS has recently produced a statement to warn patients of the risks: http://members.bos.org.uk/News-and-Events/BOS-Statement-Interproximal-reduction