With the lockdown going on over the United Kingdom, the online orthodontics industry is becoming more popular to assist British people who need help with their dentistry needs.

With no dental clinics open at this time, Matthew Messina, the clinic director at Ohio State Upper Arlington Dentistry, and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association said it is best to call the family dentist for help. "A lot of times, some really useful things can be taken care of over the phone," he explained," Messina told CNN.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lausanne
(Photo : REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Dentist Leonard Brazzola shows his protection equipment on the opening day at his practice after the Swiss government eased the lockdown during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland, April 27, 2020.

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Telehealth and teledentistry allow patients to access healthcare providers through electronic consultations, videoconferencing, and virtual communications.

These relatively new companies offer cheaper home orthodontic, and 'teledentistry' treatments, and This is Money provides.

Since the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Straight Teeth Direct says inquiries to their companies have increased by as much as three times.

Another company, SmileDirectClub, also says its demands soar during the lockdown. The company's spokesperson believes that Covid-19 has created a long-term demand for online health and dentistry services.

Aside from these companies, other firms are utilizing the lockdown and social distancing as a marketing opportunity. Instagram, Pinterest, or other social media platforms are flooded by ads promoting teledentistry.

My Straight Teeth and Your Smile Direct also offer pearly whites without numerous visits to the dentist or orthodontist at a much lower price.

Services from a well-established orthodontics company Invisalign cost around £2,500 to £5,500 for treatments and check-ups with an orthodontist. However, you can get the same services online and at-home for only between £800 and £2,000, which is over 30% cheaper than traditional ones.

How does teledentistry work?

1. Have an online consultation with a qualified orthodontist who would check if treatment at home is possible. Clients will upload photos of their teeth taken from different angles.

2. The orthodontist will send a box of tricks that will allow putting clay molds on teeth. The package also comes with a plan, showing teeth of other clients.

3. Send the impressions to the company, after which the first batch of invisible aligners will be mailed. Once received, check them, take photographs, and send pictures to the orthodontist for review.

4. Have regular messages and online check-ups.

5. After several months of up to over a year, the process is finished. Clients will be provided with retainers they need to wear at night.

Security flags and how to check the legitimacy

While it is saving some bucks, it is important to know whether these companies are legitimate and how they can carry out their services.

Dig deeply on the company. Check the reviews about the company or even ask other people to vouch on the company from public forums. It is best to at least get assurance on the company before sending payments. It is also good to consider reviews from Trustpilot, despite indicators that companies influence these reviews.

A sign of good company is offering a free assessment before asking payment for treatment. However, if a company pressures customers to buy at first without even checking on how the teeth look like, then customers are likely to get a general treatment.

Know what the payment is for? It is best to know what services are included in the payment being charged. While others include replacement of lost or broken aligners in their plan, others charge extra for it.

Make sure to get a full breakdown of costs. Ask questions like what happens if extra care is needed or how much if a replacement is required. Meanwhile, some firms offer payment plans without the need to pay upfront.

More importantly, it is important to have realistic expectations. While home orthodontics can bring significant improvements, it will never be perfect as results would depend on the current state of the teeth.

This is where the importance of initial consultation lies, from which dentists can analyze the quality of the dentures.

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