DIY Clear Aligners: What You Need to Know

Sep 20, 2019 | Cosmetic Dentistry

There are so many choices for clear aligners these days, with a lot of buzz around do it yourself (DIY) clear aligners.

Recently, we had a parent ask us some questions that made us want to clarify some misconceptions that may be floating around DIY clear aligners.

At Utica Dental, we are not just here to give you a beautiful looking smile but also a functioning smile.

So, we are going to outline two common questions about DIY clear aligners and detail everything you need to know.

Is it really necessary for a dentist/orthodontist to do the clear aligners?

Yes! You should always have a licensed dental professional perform your aligner therapy.


Well, here is the problem with DIY aligners – the kind where you take impressions on yourself and send them into a place that will ship the aligner’s right to your doorstep:

1.  Impressions are hard. Even trained professionals experience difficulty taking impressions on some people and get good margins (where the tooth and gum meet).

Someone who has no clue what they are doing could mash their tooth on the side of the tray and then get a funky aligner due to the faulty impression.

2. Sometimes the first set of trays will fit, and the rest won’t. Here’s a true story about one of our team member’s friend:

She ordered DIY clear aligners and received some “funky” trays. Why? Because she didn’t know how to do the impressions correctly. When she called customer service, they said that the closest place where she could get a scan was in North Carolina – talk about inconvenient!

Another problem with the trays not fitting is your bone density. Like people, not all jaw bone is the same. For some people, it may take them 12 sets of aligners to achieve a goal because their bone is more pliable.  Whereas someone else with dense bone may take 24 sets of aligners to achieve the same goal.

Additionally, you need a dental professional to ensure your teeth are tracking with the aligners. If this is not the case, they will be able to adjust your treatment for better movement (often performing an Opens new tab to learn moreinterproximal reduction).

3. Root resorption is a real thing. When your teeth are moved too quickly or aggressively, it can cause the roots to shorten.

Why does this matter?

Your bone is what holds roots, and therefore your teeth, in place. You need a certain amount to keep your teeth from becoming loose and wiggly.

We doubt you want straight and wiggle teeth!

Why can I get the DIY clear aligners for so much cheaper?

Mail-order teeth aligners appear cheaper than other methods, like Invisalign®, because they lack the full orthodontic service.

Here’s a list of what you will likely not get with DIY clear aligners:

  • Not enough aligners: Plastic aligners off the internet most likely give you 10 to 12 sets of aligners. These may or may not move all or none of your teeth.
  • Professional guidance: You will not get a professional who knows the signs of proper movement or who can take x-rays to make sure you are not getting root resorption.
  • More trays: If you are unsatisfied at the end of your treatment/trays, you may not get any more to continue straightening your smile.
  • Retainer: You will not get a retainer after you are done. This is key for keeping your smile straight and beautiful.
  • Comprehensive treatment: Most of the time, DIY clear aligners just fix the front four teeth; not the bite or molar prolapse, which happens after people do not wear their retainers.
  • Additional: You will not get the expertise of a doctor to widen your arch to help open your airway, help with TMJ, and make sure the bite is the best we can get it.

At Utica Dental, our Invisalign® treatment includes as many trays as it takes within five years. We also offer Vivera retainers, which will help keep your smile straight overnight.

Trust your dentist or orthodontist with your smile

DIY clear aligners are not worth the risk, time, money, or disappointment. You won’t get the full orthodontic experience with them, and you could potentially put your smile in harm’s way for permanent damage.

If you want to straighten your teeth, then talk to your dentist or nearest orthodontist.

Our smile expert, Dr. Mike Hinkle, is in the top 5% of Invisalign® providers worldwide!

He not only straightens smiles with clear aligners, but also focuses on other issues like teeth grinding or clenching, airway issues, prolapsed molars, and more – things DIY clear aligners don’t address.

Best of all: We are accepting new patients!

We proudly serve residents of  Tulsa, OK, and surrounding communities, including Maple Ridge, Yorktown, Florence Park, Terrace Drive, The Pearl, and East Village.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation.