Invisalign Vs. At-home DIY Aligners

Invisalign® vs. At-Home DIY Aligners – An Expert Assessment


Invisalign, “the clear alternative to braces,” is the category leader in orthodontic aligners, and for good reason…the company has been established for decades, garnered hundreds of thousands of hours in specialized training, regulated guideline reviews, trial and error overseen by professional orthodontic committees (unpaid, non-endorsed), and supported by intensive research.

It is the go-to solution for basic to complex orthodontic issues, with a strong network of board-certified, licensed, specialized orthodontists. While the market has been flooded in recent years with do-it-yourself (DIY), at-home aligners, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of selecting an alternate route to professional, in-person care.

What is the conversation surrounding At-Home, DIY aligners?


There are increasing concerns surrounding more ‘convenient’ at-home aligners. The ‘convenience’ is short-term and risky. Many patients require an in-person expert professional. In some cases, those who chose the at-home route resulted in more timely, costly, and complex treatment. From varying tissue depths to differences in smile arches, in-office treatment provides customized aligners to address each patient’s individual needs. With over 30 years of experience, Dr. Bigman treats every single patient holistically, addressing not only the patient’s cosmetic concern of wanting to attain straight, beautiful teeth but also the underlying potential medical issues that can only be seen by an expertly-trained, highly-specialized, board-certified orthodontist. Additionally, Bigman Orthodontics has an expert administrative team to ensure each patient is presented with the best options for cost efficiency and optimal treatment options.

  • “In April [2017], the 18,000-member American Association of Orthodontists filed complaints in 36 states alleging that [At-Home Aligner Company] was breaking laws governing the practice of dentistry.” (Source: Buzzfeed News)
  • “I don’t think the diagnosis can happen with three clicks,” said Hera Kim-Berman, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s department of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry and the program director of orthodontic graduate training. “These companies treat them as consumers, as clients, and that’s really the major difference.” (Source: Bloomberg News)
  • “There’s more to treating a smile than just moving visible portions of the teeth,” said AAO associate general counsel Sean Murphy. “If you want to increase access to care, you have to make sure it’s in the best interest of patient health and safety.” (Source: American Association of Orthodontics)
  • “Federal court dismisses a majority of [At-Home Aligner Company]’s claims” (Source: American Association of Orthodontics

How do the experience and process differ?


There is a multitude of differences between the at-home, DIY process and in-person professional care that Dr. Bigman provides using Invisalign®. Here are a few key differences:

  • The at-home, DIY process involves the patient taking photos of their teeth, biting down on a mold that is provided via mail, and then subsequently receiving aligners in the mail. New aligners are sent periodically, and the patient can check in with an orthodontist every 3 months. There is no in-person assessment of the patient with a licensed, board-certified professional throughout the entirety of the process. 
  • The Invisalign process involves a free consultation with Dr. Bigman – drawing from experience with 12,000+ orthodontic cases and extensive, specialized orthodontic training and certifications. An initial consult will not only determine the best course of treatment, but it will also address any underlying issues that can be problematic as the aligner process progresses. (More on that below). Dr. Bigman will oversee your treatment with in-person appointments as needed, adjustments to your treatment as needed, and regularly scheduled appointments to replace aligners and ensure full safety, compliance, and progress of you, the patient, every 10 weeks.

What are the risks of at-home, DIY aligners?


Perhaps the most obvious issue to consider when using Invisalign® alternatives is that if something does not go as expected with treatment, there is pain or discomfort, or non-compliance becomes an issue (the single biggest concern with all aligners), your only option is to call a hotline. With in-person care, Dr. Bigman and his fully-trained, expert team of orthodontic specialists will holistically approach your treatment, ensuring that all aspects of your oral care are addressed, not only the aligner-related concerns. 

You can’t treat what you don’t know.  A key component of the initial consult with Dr. Bigman includes assessing your overall oral health and potential to withstand aligners. With at-home, DIY aligners, you as the patient is expected to track your progress, assess anything that goes wrong, and treat discomfort. Dr. Bigman has decades of experience, and can quickly and safely pinpoint any issues that may be unseen to the untrained eye. This includes oral disease, bone structure, infections, and gum disease – all critical aspects of oral health that need to be assessed and deemed healthy enough to begin aligner treatment. Dr. Bigman ensures you are okay to do so. 

According to the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, there are patient cases where aligners cannot be used unless there is pretreatment required by a licensed professional like Dr. Bigman. Here are a few examples:

  1. Teeth that are rotated more than 20 degrees. 
  2. Teeth that tilt at an angle more than 45 degrees. 
  3. A tooth is displaced from its socket. 
  4. Teeth need minor “shaving down” at various points during aligner treatment to make room for the movement and to provide optimal cosmetic results.

Dr. Bigman’s team is proud of a combined 75 years of experience with the latest, up-to-date treatments and technologies to provide the best patient outcome.

Ready to Get Started?


If you need braces or Invisalign® in the San Ramon Valley, contact Bigman Orthodontics today at (925) 735-1515 to schedule your free initial evaluation.