Are you looking at ways to straighten teeth at home? Whether for financial reasons or because you'd rather avoid regular visits to a dentist right now, there is a way to do this in the form of home teeth straightening kits that use clear aligners.
On the surface, buying teeth aligners online seems like a good idea. They let you fix crooked teeth at home, avoid the ‘metal mouth' look, and save money vs. in-office treatments like Invisalign.
And they have proven very effective for thousands of patients, not just in the UK but across the world. However, there are some important things to consider before you go ahead with any kind of teeth straightening at home.
Here we're going to look at the pros and cons of DIY teeth straightening kit options vs visiting a dentist for orthodontic treatment. We'll also review some of the biggest home aligner brands in the UK so you can decide which (if any) is right for you.
Table of contents
- 1 How can you get teeth aligners at home?
- 2 Pros and cons of using a home teeth straightening kit in the UK
- 3 Best home teeth straightening kits in the UK
- 4 How to straighten teeth without braces at home
- 5 Conclusion
How can you get teeth aligners at home?
In case you're unfamiliar with this concept, let's take a quick look at how it works.
Clear aligners, or ‘invisible braces', are removable plastic trays made to fit over your teeth and apply pressure in specific places. You change to a new set of aligners at regular intervals during your treatment, and each one shifts your teeth a little further until they are properly aligned. The best known brand is Invisalign, which is administered by a dentist in-office.
Online teeth straightening kits have been available in the UK for several years, but the global pandemic has really increased demand for them. They offered people a way to straighten teeth at home while dentists were closed for long periods.
Even now that most practices have re-opened, many patients are reluctant to make regular visits to what could be seen as a high-risk environment (but be assured that dentists are taking every precaution to keep their clinics safe).
How to straighten teeth at home
Different brands work in slightly different ways, but here are the basic steps for getting teeth aligners at home:
- You order an impression kit online (or visit a physical location to get a 3D scan taken).
- Using this kit, you make your own teeth impressions at home and post them to a lab.
- A dentist reviews your impressions (or scans) and determines whether you are eligible for treatment.
- If yes, you receive a treatment plan and a preview of how your smile will look after teeth straightening.
- You receive your full set of aligners in the post, with instructions on how long to wear each set.
- During your treatment, you check in online so your dentist can monitor progress against your treatment plan.
- Once treatment is complete, you wear retainers to keep your teeth in their new position.
You don't have any face-to-face contact with a dentist, which is one obvious drawback of this kind of treatment (unless, perhaps, you have a dental phobia). But this is also what makes the price so much cheaper than in-office alternatives. Ultimately, you'll have to decide what matters most to you.
You can watch the video below to get a better idea of what it's like using a teeth straightening kit in the UK. Deborah chose Straight My Teeth and is really happy with her new smile!
Pros and cons of using a home teeth straightening kit in the UK
Clear aligners offer many benefits over traditional fixed metal or clear braces:
- They are practically invisible
- They can be removed for 2-4 hours per day
- You can clean your teeth as normal
- There are no restrictions on what you can eat (as long as you remove your aligners first)
On the downside, wearing aligners does require some willpower. It can be inconvenient having to remove them every time you eat or drink anything except water – and brush your teeth afterwards. And the fact that they are removable means they can be lost. No risk of that with metal braces!
All of these things apply whether you straighten your teeth at home by buying teeth aligners over-the-counter, or visit a dentist for your treatment.
Are clear aligners as effective as traditional braces?
Well, in-office brands like Invisalign can treat around 90% of orthodontic cases. This makes them a very effective alternative to traditional braces for the majority of people. But when it comes to teeth straightening at home, online aligner kits are only suitable for mild to moderate cases.
You can get a good idea of whether you're eligible with a quick online assessment. But you won't know for sure until a dentist has assessed your dental impressions or scans.
Other things that differ when you straighten teeth at home include:
- You won't see a dentist in-person (which you may see as a good or bad thing!)
- You'll check in regularly using an app rather than visiting a dental practice.
- You have to take your own teeth impressions at home (unless you choose a brand with physical locations).
- If you have any problems, your first port of call will be a customer service team.
- You'll pay as little as £999 for an at-home teeth straightening kit.
While researching brands, be sure to check not just their ‘before and after' results, but also reviews of their customer care. If you get stuck taking your teeth impressions or your aligners don't seem to fit properly, it's good to know you can easily get in touch with someone for assistance.
Is it safe to straighten teeth at home?
Overall, yes, it is perfectly safe to use a home teeth straightening kit with remote supervision from a dentist or orthodontist. However, there are some caveats to this.
Firstly, we recommend that you have a dental checkup before beginning to straighten teeth at home. This is because if you have any untreated dental caries or gum disease, you probably shouldn't be wearing teeth aligners. Your dentist can help you with these problems before you proceed with aligner therapy.
Secondly, even with the best hands-on supervision, teeth don't always move as expected during orthodontic treatment. And while the technology used for remote monitoring is very sophisticated, it's not quite the same as having a dentist examining your teeth face-to-face.
The main risk here is that you will get to the end of your treatment and find your teeth aren't still quite as you wanted. In this case, it should be possible to make some extra adjustments, but you may be asked to pay extra for these.
If you'd prefer to have the assurance of in-person treatment, consider using Invisalign instead. It may not cost much more than online aligners, especially if you only need mild tooth movement, and they have a large network of dentists around the UK.
Best home teeth straightening kits in the UK
By this point, you have probably heard of Smile Direct Club, and perhaps a few other brands offering teeth aligners online in the UK.
Smile Direct Club is the biggest, and has been operating for some time in the US. However, their frustrating customer service and questionable business practices mean they aren't top of our recommended brands. You can read some Smile Direct Club reviews to learn more.
Several other brands like Franksmile and Your Smile Direct have run into financial difficulties recently, leaving many customers stranded half way through their treatment.
One brand that is well established and also offers top-notch customer care is Straight My Teeth. The fact that their aligner package costs just £999 is the icing on the cake!
For this price you get everything needed to complete your treatment, including an impression kit and one set of retainers. Read our detailed Straight My Teeth review to learn more, or click below to visit their website and check current offers:
Be cautious when buying mail-order kits as some brands like Smilint have no supervision from a dental professional. Our article about Invisalign alternatives in the UK has more details about the different brands and how to choose between them.
How to straighten teeth without braces at home
If you simply want to avoid conventional fixed braces then removable braces are a great alternative. They are very hard to spot, and there isn't the same risk of long-term damage to your teeth from decalcification.
You may have seen people trying to close gaps in teeth using elastic bands, or using other DIY teeth straightening methods. We don't advise trying anything without the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist, as you risk doing some serious damage to your teeth.
With the entire treatment course from Straight My Teeth costing just £999 (with monthly finance available), teeth straightening at home can be really affordable. You also don't have to visit a dental practice, which can be helpful if you have a dental phobia or feel unsafe being in that setting right now because of COVID-19.
Now you know how to straighten your teeth at home safely – and the things to consider before embarking on this type of treatment. Here's a quick summary of the options we've mentioned:
Home teeth straightening kits
Fixed metal braces
£999 - £1,800
£1,500 - £5,500
£1,500 - £3,000
Mild to moderate movement
90% of cases
Full range of cases
Remote, via online checkin
In person every 4-6 weeks
In person every 4-6 weeks
If you are set on remotely monitored clear aligner therapy, be sure to choose a reputable brand that you feel you can trust to support you throughout the process. Straight My Teeth is one that we recommend since they demonstrate consistently strong customer care.
We also recommend you visit a dentist to check your oral health before using a home teeth straightening kit to get teeth aligners at home.
If you're still undecided, why not look for your nearest Invisalign provider and book an appointment for an assessment? Invisalign's in-office clear aligners are the leading brand in the UK, and they might be more affordable than you realised.