So I took a little hiatus from blogging to take some time to actually enjoy life. Summer is just too beautiful in Vancouver to spend the day inside writing about nerdy things, and I got to appreciate a week long journey hiking the West Coast Trail (photo cred to James Sutton), really getting time to relax and appreciate what is important in life.
I was on social media today and saw something that amazed me. Check this out:
Why The Face????????????
Let us talk about DIY dentistry.
Our society is absolutely losing all sense of hard work. If there is a short cut or an easy fix, people want it. But life does not work that way. There is no quick way to lose weight and keep it off, there is no magical cure for aging, and dentistry definitely is not something that should be done at home by untrained people.
Yet here I see an ad for an at-home tooth straightening system.
Who in their right mind would do this? Is there such a disconnect with oral health and systemic health that this is actually a marketable treatment?
Imagine someone with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) or perhaps a fractured wrist, would you expect them to order a kit off the internet and make themselves a back brace or a cast? It would be very ill advised. But somehow for crooked teeth it is ok?
Orthodontics is one of the most complicated treatments that dentists can provide; it is not easy to learn the skills required to perform controlled tooth and root movements, and it definitely cannot be predictably completed at home without proper monitoring. Anyone who has worked with clear aligners knows that it is not as simple as putting trays in; buttons need to be glued to the teeth, enamel adjustments are often required, and in many cases elastics and traditional braces are required to properly finish the case. I have spoken to many people who have had clear aligners and are still not happy with their bites.....but their front teeth look great. This is unacceptable.
Yes, I understand that dentistry is expensive, but taking shortcuts with one's health will never work out well. Yet for some reason, people think that it is ok for dental care. Well it isn't. I have had many people come to my office after trying the cheap way first only to end up with problems, ones that cost more to fix than if the treatment was done properly in the first place. So is the nature of being a prosthodontist. I am increasingly finding my office to be a fix and repair shop.
I know that there are going to be the classic internet troll comments about how dentistry is a scam, and that it is not as hard as it seems, and that we are all in it to fleece our patients. I see those comments on every online article about the costs of dental care. Believe me, dentistry is not easy; it is something that takes years and years of training, and then very expensive equipment and materials (in addition to quality labwork, which also is expensive) to be able to provide high quality dental care. It is not something that can properly be done at home with correspondence with a health professional online.
Honestly, when I see these short cut treatments, it makes me question the direction that my profession is heading. Is it all about big business and quick fixes now? I dedicated 4 years of my life to becoming a dentist, and then another 3 getting my specialty training, which was after completing a bachelors degree. I have also sacrificed quite a bit to put together my little practice. I know how hard it is to provide high quality dental care, and expect nothing but that for my patients. For someone to come out and make people think that it is something that can be done at home belittles everything that I, and other dentists and specialists, have worked for. But I guess there is always a market for people who want things done quick, cheap and dirty.
If you are considering a quick fix like do it at home braces, please take the time to research your other options, including the best one, which would be to consult with an orthodontist. It will be worth your time and money.
Thanks for reading!