Finding the right braces proves tricky for Atlanta man

Image 1 of 8

Damien Connor had traditional braces, but he hated the look and the upkeep of them. So, when he saw an ad for mail-order invisible braces, he went for it. He says he went for one consultation and signed up.

And, at first, Conner says, he loved, the clear plastic trays that came in the mail, that the company said could gradually straighten his smile.

"It was so much easier for me to brush my teeth," Connor says.  "It was so much easier for me to eat. It was easier if I want to take them off and be seen because I like to be seen."

But, with time, he says, there was a problem.

"They never fit properly," Connor says.

He worried the gaps between his front teeth were widening instead of shrinking. So, Connor says he tried to reach the company but says he had trouble getting someone on the line.

"There is just 800 number and hopefully you can speak with someone, after your initial appointment."

So, Connor eventually gave up, and turned to Atlanta orthodontist Dr. Kristin Huber.

"So we do metal braces, clear braces and we do Invisalign clear braces," Huber says.

Because of Connor's deep overbite, Huber says, he would never have been a good fit for invisible braces, which are designed for more moderate correction.  And, Dr. Huber says, a licensed orthodontist would have known that.

"In my opinion treating a patient without supervision can be dangerous," she says.

Conner thought he'd need to wear the mail-order plastic trays for only about 6 months.

"In my opinion the type of bite he has is closer to an 18 to 24-month treatment plan, to fully correct the bite in order to close the spaces efficiently," Huber says.

Dr. Charles Kirby of Atlanta Dental Spa says it's all about finding the right fit for each patient. So, before he recommends braces or Clear Aligners, Kirby gets a 3-D scan of each patient.

"We can scan the teeth, get a 3 D image of the teeth, look at the bite, see the teeth relationship," he says.  "If it's just a tooth position problem, not a jaw position problem, typically that's when you're a good candidate."

Dr. Kirby says he can show his patients a projection of what their smile will eventually look like, to make sure they're on the same page.

Connor is now back in braces and says he learned an expensive lesson.

"It was a waste of my money, roughly $3,500," he says.

The Georgia Board of Dentistry has ruled that digital scans for invisible braces can only be performed by an expanded-duty dental assistant, who is under the direct supervision of a dentist. Smile Direct Club is suing the Board over that requirement. The company believes the initial dental exams can be done safely through teledentistry.  While it would not comment on its lawsuit, a Smile Direct Club statement said:

"SmileDirect Club is doctor-prescribed and doctor-directed, the only difference from the traditional setting is patients are not going into the physical office for treatment."