Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mail-Order Orthodontics. Is it a Mail-Order Mistake?

My social media feeds (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Yahoo) have been bombarded lately with advertisements about a direct to consumer (mail-order) orthodontic treatment option with Invisible aligners that is 3x faster and 60% cheaper than traditional braces.  In fact, from what the advertisement says, you do it yourself, without even having to see an orthodontist or dentist.  

Say what?!?!  

Cheaper, faster and more convenient?  There must be a catch, right?  RIGHT.

I'd like to unbox this looking more closely at the three different selling points of DIY aligners:

1) Time
2) Price
3) Convenience, no Doctor Visits

It is totally misleading that mail-order aligners work “faster" than seeing an orthodontist.  This marketing ploy is founded on the principal that their treatment takes 6 months, while traditional orthodontic treatment usually takes 18 months.  In reality, if a patient ONLY wants their front teeth aligned, an orthodontist can do it in 6 months with invisible aligners or braces—the same amount of time as DIY aligners.  There is more to orthodontics however than just straightening the front teeth.  That’s why a typical orthodontic case can take around 18 months. 

With a traditional case, the first 6 months are usually the initial straightening stage and the following 12 months are usually the bite correction stage.  Mail order aligners on average take only 6 months because they DO NOT correct your bite.  Therefore, when these direct to consumer companies say they are 3x faster than traditional braces, they are not comparing apples to apples.  They are comparing a limited treatment option to only align the front teeth (6 months), to a comprehensive orthodontic case where your bite is being fixed (18 months).    That’s where they get the 3x faster statement, 6 months versus 18 months.

Check out this case.

I straightened these teeth after only 2 months.  It took ONE appointment.  By this reasoning, I can straighten teeth 9x faster than traditional braces and 3x faster than mail order aligners.  I win. 

Mail-order aligners are not faster than seeing an orthodontist.  If a patient wants limited orthodontic treatment with clear aligners or braces, it can be done in approximately 6 months by an orthodontist. Discuss this with an orthodontist so you can understand the pros and cons of limited treatment. Don’t try and do it yourself thinking it will be faster and better.

The cost of orthodontic treatment is usually determined by the total treatment time.  Shorter cases typically cost less, while longer cases typically cost more. 

As I stated above, the average direct to consumer aligner product takes approximately 6 months.  Therefore, they have priced their product around $2000.  This is significantly cheaper than a traditional orthodontic case (both regular braces or aligners) that takes almost 18 months ($4000-$6000).  With that said, using the same logic as we used to destroy the speed argument above, these mail-order aligners are not truly cheaper.  They are just selling you a limited 6 month option. 

If a patient is interested in a limited 6-month orthodontic treatment option, just ask you orthodontist to weigh the pros and cons of a 6 month plan.  Many orthodontists would entertain the idea of doing limited treatment (at a lower cost than full treatment) if the patient understands the risks and rewards.  Chances are good the cost would be similar to a mail-order aligner.

Thus, the mail order argument that it is 60% less expensive is again, misleading and false. 

The lack of doctor supervision is the BIGGEST concern someone should have about the mail-order aligner business model.  

Orthodontic treatment is an on-going medical procedure which requires an initial diagnosis and on-going supervision throughout treatment.  As aligners are changed, the teeth are moving and changing.  While the mail-order companies have a doctor “review” the treatment plan, without seeing the patient, they do not have enough information to make a proper plan. Also, there is no guarantee it is an orthodontist reviewing your case.  It could just be a general dentist with no formal training in orthodontics.   If orthodontic tooth movement is not done correctly, it can lead to bone issues, tooth loss, gum disease or bad-bite changes.  Look at the on-line reviews and you will quickly see a trend regarding failures with mail-order aligners.  While there have been successes, without a doctor’s supervision, treatment cannot be altered, improved and changed as needed.  

Also, most orthodontists utilize specific techniques such as attachments (resin buttons on the teeth) to assist with clear aligner treatment.  With the mail-order products, these essential buttons cannot be utilized.  

To put it simply, there is too much risk involved with orthodontic treatment that is not supervised on an on-going basis.  


To summarize, DIY Mail Order Aligners are not cheaper, not faster and not as safe as seeing a trained orthodontist. 

If you live in/around the Akron area, we treat both children and adults with braces or invisible aligners. Our practice is in Barberton but we promise you it will be worth the drive if you are 20-30 minutes away.  Give Barnett Orthodontics a call at 330-745-4497 or contact us through our website or Facebook page to learn more.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Better Late than Never?  Not with Braces—Better Early than Late!

When people think of braces, they picture themselves as that awkward kid in middle school.  While it’s true, 80% of what is done with braces or Invisalign in done once all the baby teeth are gone, what about when you see an elementary school child with braces?  This is called interceptive treatment.  Interceptive treatment, also known as phase I, is a very common and necessary part of early orthodontic treatment and dental development.

When should my child see an Orthodontist and what is Interceptive treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that patients be seen for a consultation as early as age 7 to be considered for orthodontic treatment, particularly interceptive treatment.  Interceptive treatment is the use of specific procedures, techniques, and appliances in young patients, as early as age 7 and before age 12, that help facilitate dental growth and development to either eliminate the need for a comprehensive, full set of braces (known as phase II) or make getting braces later, around age 12, easier. 

What appliances and techniques are used in Interceptive Treatment?

            There are a variety of appliances that may be used during this first phase of treatment, however, there are some that are most common.  For example, the use of an upper palatal expander is very commonly used and helps to create more room for the adult teeth to come in by widening the upper arch of the mouth.  It is generally in the mouth for approximately 6 months. 

Upper Expander

An expander can also be used on the lower teeth to reach the same result, and sometimes both upper and lower are used at the same time.  Both the upper and lower expanders fit around the back molars of the respective arch with rings and are turned with a key to widen the arch. 

Lower Expander                      Expand
er Key


            The use of braces is also another technique used during this phase.  Braces are used to straighten the adult teeth and are adhered most often to the front teeth only, either just on top, or both top and bottom.

Phase I Braces

            When the braces and expander are removed at the end of this phase, a permanent bonded retainer may be used on the backside of the front teeth to hold them in place along with the use of what is called a lingual arch.  A lingual arch fits around the back teeth with rings just as the expander does, and a small wire runs around the inside of all the teeth on top (and/or on bottom) to also help hold the treatment that has been done during this phase while waiting for phase II to begin around age 12. 

                                      Upper Bonded Retainer                                         Upper Lingual Arch         

Always remember that every child is different.  Not everyone is going to need all of the appliances that have been mentioned here, and some may require something that is not mentioned here.  Overall, the important thing is to make sure you are visiting an orthodontist that you trust and feel comfortable with when your child is around age 7, and then, on a regular basis even for observation purposes.  As your child grows and develops they may require interceptive treatment that was not necessary at the first consultation.

If you live or work in the Akron Ohio area, give us a call to schedule a complimentary consultation.  Let’s make sure to be early, rather than late!

Amanda Spies--Orthodontic Assistant  
Barnett Orthodontics

Barberton, Ohio 44203



Friday, January 20, 2017

Lost your retainer? Our in-house lab can make you a new one in 1-hour!

It happens to a lot of people, the dreaded lost retainer.  Don't fret, it's easy to get a new one and usually we can make it within a single hour

The current orthodontic research shows that your teeth have the potential to move for the rest of your life.  In other words, you have to wear a retainer, just at night, forever.  Over the years we have retreated many patients who thought it was okay to stop wearing their retainer as a teen.  
Teeth are not static.  They have a memory and want to move back to their original position throughout your lifetime.  When your braces are removed or your Invisalign treatment finishes, you will be instructed on how to wear and care for your new retainers.  At Akron's Barnett Orthodontics, we instruct our patients to wear their top retainer for 3-full days and then nights only.  Your retainer will be form-fitted over your teeth and will hold them in their position.  The bottom retainer is usually glued in (built-in).  It can remain there for the rest of your life.

It is also important, if your retainer breaks, you lose it, or have dental work done that you see your orthodontist as soon as possible for a new one to prevent your teeth from shifting.  Good news again, we can make it quickly and economically.  Currently in 2017, our retainer replacement cost is only $75 for any past patient.  You've spent a lot on your orthodontic treatment, a replacement retainer shouldn't be expensive. 

Call us today (330-745-4497) if you need a new retainer.  Click on this link to go directly to our website to learn more about retainers at our office.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October is National Orthodontic Health month--Here are some tips about dealing with braces during Trick or Treating

How to survive Halloween with Braces….

With Halloween quickly approaching & the smell of pumpkin spice in the air, we at Barnett Orthodontics, want to give you a few tips to help you survive Halloween with braces. Many of our patients are anxiously anticipating a night full of spooky fun.  Unfortunately, some of the candy you collect trick-or-treating can cause serious damage to your teeth, especially if you have braces. This does not mean that you have to skip trick-or-treating, or even give all of your candy to mom & dad at the end of the night. It does mean that you will need to be careful in selecting what you can & can’t eat from your stash.

Candies to Avoid with Braces….

       First, let’s go over the candy you should avoid if you have braces or other orthodontic appliances. Sticky, chewy, candy like gummy bears, taffy, bubble gum, caramels, can cause painfully sticky situations or even an extra trip to the office to fix a loose bracket or broken wire. These treats can get stuck in your braces and make it very difficult to remove with brushing & flossing. The stickiness also tugs on the wires, brackets and appliances.
Hard candies, such as, suckers, candy coated apples, peanut brittle, and any candy containing nuts can also pop off a bracket & break wires when you bite into them.

Candies that are Safe Treats….

Ideally, you should always try to stick with softer treats that will melt in your mouth. Some examples of these safe treats would be peanut butter cups, soft chocolate bars, apple slices that are cut into smaller pieces, soft mints, doughnuts, cakes, pudding, and pies. You could even choose to have milkshakes or ice cream before or after you go trick-or-treating.

Most Importantly….

Finally & most importantly, if you decide to have any kind of candy this Halloween, even the safe treats, make sure to remember to brush & floss quickly afterwards. The sugars in the candy interact with the bacteria in your mouth to form an acid which will eat away at your tooth enamel. The quicker you remove the sugars from your mouth, by brushing & flossing, the less likely you are to have any lasting damage to your teeth.

Contact Us…

Have more questions about surviving Halloween with braces or need to come in for a visit? We’re here for you! You can reach out to us at our contact page or call the office at (330)745-4497.  We can’t wait to hear from you & hope you will continue to visit our blog for more tips & tricks on life with braces! 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mouthguards, Free of Charge Because it's Important


Free of Charge, Because It’s Important. 

At Barnett Orthodontics, in Barberton OH, we provide free mouthguards to all of our patients.

The best type of mouthguard available is a custom-fit pressure laminated mouthguard. These are made in our in-house lab by using an impression of your teeth. This creates a mouthguard that fits your teeth perfectly. These are the most comfortable and most protective mouthguards you can wear! Another type is a stock mouthguard. They are pre-formed and ready to wear but known for being a little bit bulky. The last type is the boil and bite mouthguard. These you can purchase at most sporting goods stores or drugstores. You place the mouthguard in boiling water and bite into it. The softened rubber forms to your teeth when you bite into it while it cools.  This is a good option but not as ideal as a custom fit mouthguard. 

During your treatment, while we are moving your teeth and changing your bite, we will provide a stock-mouthguard.  We have a variety of colors and sizes.  After braces, we make every patient a free custom pressure laminated mouthguard to protect your super smile. 

We are confident that we are the BEST source for a custom mouthguard in the Akron Ohio area.  Our “Mission Mouthguard” is aimed at providing all of Akron’s youth (not just our patients) with a custom pressure laminated mouthguard. We have gone into school’s athletic programs to offer our services and have been recognized in the Akron Beacon Journal for our efforts.  While a custom-fit mouthguard can cost hundreds of dollars, we only charge $20.00 to the general public.  This correlates to the cost of a boil and bite mouthguard which a family would buy at a sporting goods store. 

Why do we need to wear mouthguards?

Mouthguards help to protect against injuries to the teeth and surrounding soft tissue, such as the tongue, cheeks, or lips. Some different injuries that could occur if you are not wearing your mouthguard could include fractured teeth (image A), displaced teeth (image B), or your teeth could be knocked out (image C) completely! They also to protect the soft tissues in your mouth. Without a mouthguard, your teeth could bite through your tongue, cheeks, or lip! Believe it or not, mouthguards also help to prevent concussions! By wearing your mouthguard it creates a padding or cushion between your teeth. By doing that, when a blow occurs to the mandible (lower jaw), the padding lessens the force of the impact pushing up toward the brain. A fractured jaw is a common dental injury related to not wearing a mouthguard!
A                                                                                                          B
Did you know?
·         Sports-related injuries account for 600,000 emergency room visits per year!
·         An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing their mouthguard!
Tips for your mouthguard!
·         Rinse or brush with toothbrush and toothpaste before and after each use.
·         Occasionally clean mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
·         Transport your mouthguard in a sturdy container that has holes for ventilation.
·         Never leave your mouthguard directly in sunlight or hot water.
Most importantly, if you get a mouthguard, make sure you wear it!
Call us today if you want to join our Mission Mouthguard Program! 330-745-4497

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"DIY" Teeth Straightening: the Magic Alternative to Braces? Rubber Bands and 3-D printed trays: Seriously...Seriously dangerous!


"DIY" Teeth Straightening: the Magic Alternative to Braces? Rubber Bands and 3-D printed trays: Seriously?...Seriously dangerous!

By: Taylor
         Most orthodontic patients want braces to improve their smiles.  Sure, getting a healthy bite is important but more than anything, they want to feel more confident about the way they look.  Braces can be expensive though and can take 1-2 years depending on the case.  Have you heard about a scary trend of using a tiny hair elastic that anyone could purchase by the hundreds at a drug store to close spaces without braces though?
          Let's admit it: social media is more effective in today's socitey than that local newspaper that gets dropped off to your house on Sunday's. There are hundreds of different sites and apps at the tips of our fingers that help connect information or people in different ways such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and last but not least, Pintrest. Pintrest is great for creative ideas for hair, makup and delicious recipes but is it really the answer to all of our orthodontic questions? Recently, posts on Pinterest have been highlighting how someone can use a hair elastic to close those little spaces between our front teeth!   But at what cost and risk?
          What most people don't realize is the damage these at-home remedies have on their teeth.
The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics issued a consumer alert about the use of elastic bands by non-orthodontists to close gaps in teeth which stated that while there are some people that have done this on their own with little or no harm done to the teeth, the rubber band can "slide into the soft tissues, where it is difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve it, then continue along the length the roots, destroying the periodontal attachment and produce inflammation". They then stated that "the teeth then extrude, the crowns of the teeth fan out as the roots are pulled together, the teeth become increasingly mobile" which can lead to tooth loss. I think we can all agree that the tiny space is NOT worth losing your teeth over. Let's leave the teeth-straightening to the professionals.

          Here are some examples of what people attempt vs what really happens: Warning...some of the photos are graphic:

We recently had a patient come into our Barberton office requesting to have her space closed.  She attempted to close the space on her own with a hair tie and showed us a picture she took on her cell phone of her own mouth.  Notice in the picture how the gums are red and swollen.  The rubber band was trapped under her gums.  Luckily she sought the services of a specialist and corrected the problem before a serious issue occurred.  Believe it or not, this stuff is happening in Akron Ohio. 
What about 3-D printed retainers to move your teeth? Yup, someone has tried it.  See the link below for the article: http://makezine.com/2016/03/20/can-you-fix-your-own-teeth-with-3d-printed-retainers/
Our suggestion, if you want your teeth straightened, see an orthodontist.  As orthodontist has 6-7 years of advanced education after 4 years of college.  We are the professionals and the easiest and cheapest way out is rarely the best.  If you live in the Akron Ohio area, don't try to do it yourself at home.  Give us a call to discuss your needs and schedule a complimentary consultation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's the point of these rubber bands? Do I really have to wear them all the time? What if I double up at night?

Many people who go through orthodontic treatment are required to wear elastics or rubber bands toward the end of their braces.  Elastics are used to help correct a patient's bite into an ideal position.  Whether you are in braces or Invisalign, the importance of elastics is essential. 

At our Akron orthodontic office, Dr. Barnett and Team work tirelessly on patient education to make this point about cooperation clear.  Without a patient doing the work, the end will never be in sight. 
There are different circumstances that could require the use of elastics; such as, an overbite, an underbite, or a crossbite.  Elastics are connected directly onto the brackets on a specialized hook designed to secure the rubber band in place.  They connect from top to bottom.  The pull of the rubber bands helps to move the teeth into the correct positions by stimulating the cells in the bone surrounding the teeth; therefore, the teeth then shift into the new correct position.  This is only successful when the elastics are worn full time, about 21-22 hours a day.  Part time cooperation will never make progress. As the bone begins the process of changing but when not worn consistently, it always has to “begin again.”  Thus no progress is made.
In today’s busy times, we find more and more people struggling with cooperation.  Whether it is forgetting after a meal to replace them, sports or activities that interfere, or just the "annoyance" of wearing rubber bands in general, some people just can't seem to commit.  Patients think that "doubling-up" on elastics will suffice; some will wear two elastics on each side at bed time and wear nothing during the day.  As brilliant as this seems, it does not work.  The teeth need constant light pressure in order to move.     
          Commonly we hear kids say they forget to put them in after lunch.  If you struggle with this, try setting an alarm/reminder on your cell phone to go off after lunch. Another idea is to keep a bag of elastics as a bookmark in your textbook for the first class after lunch. You can also try placing the rubber bands on a finger while snacking.
          If you really cannot commit to the cooperation, talk with your orthodontist about a non-compliant approach to bite correction.  We use a lot of “fixed” appliances to correct bites.  Ultimately though, each individual patient is in charge of his or her future.  Take some ownership to the process and achieve that awesome result!