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DIY dentistry: the industry is booming in Australia but experts warn of dangers



EZ Smile, based in Sydney, offers transparent aligners at reduced prices and via the Internet.

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EZ Smile, based in Sydney, offers transparent aligners at reduced prices and via the Internet.

It sounds too good to be true – more straight teeth for a fraction of the price and never having to jump into the orthodontist's chair. Dentists say it is.

Australian dentists are urging the public to avoid on-line do-it-yourself orthodontic services, such as EZ Smile, saying that they can exacerbate dental problems and lead to costly corrective care.

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, EZ Smile offers transparent "prescribed orthodontic" aligners from a laboratory using "world-class" technology for "only 219 AU $" ($ 2345) with "no face-to-face dental examination" .

The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) stated that the absence of clinical examinations, X-rays and continuous supervision was worrisome.

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"If there are gum problems, gum disease or broken fillings, they will not be detected, and when you start to move your teeth, these problems could get worse," ASO Vice President Howard Holmes said.

"Even if the immediate results look good, the teeth and the bite may not be in a stable position and go back, and there may also be muscular and mandibular problems."

EZ Smile has modeled itself on the great American player SmilesDirectClub, which has opened the way to the invisible aligner industry at home, but has also triggered a wave of consumer warnings.

After passing a quick quiz on dental history, customers can purchase a footprint kit, make molds at home and send them to a laboratory, which will then create a set of plastic aligners, similar to Invisalign.

The website gives the impression that everything is done in Australia, but Fairfax Media has discovered the laboratory and the orthodontists are in Shiyan, China.

This means that if something goes wrong, it may be more difficult for disappointed customers to find an appeal.

EZ Smile's founder, Ed Ambrosius, stated that the laboratory made dentist equipment all over the world and that the orthodontists were fully qualified. It has so far 5000 applications and a turnover of A $ 2.5 million.

"We are simply doing the smallest cases of tooth movement and we would never consider treating someone who requires complicated dental techniques," he said.

"Dentists are scary, the risks are extremely low and we have rejected many more cases than we have assumed."

Ambrosius asked: "No, I guess not, but the fact is that they can get it from other companies based abroad, so at least with us, we are here and can deal with us through normal channels".

Competitors include Irish start-ups Your Smile Direct and Hong Kong Easy Smile.

Holmes said that these mail services did not provide good value for money, with orthodontists able to treat minor cases for a similar price. Invisalign brand aligners usually start at AU $ 3500.

He said that ASO wanted tougher laws to protect the public.

Ambrosius said he wanted to discuss issues with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) so that laws are in step with technology.

AHPRA said it was aware of the growing number of dental companies online and considering the issues they can raise compared to laws that protect the public.

The Healthcare Complaints Commission stated that it could accept complaints about these activities, having already received one.

The dott. Neil Peppitt, president of the Australian Dental Association NSW, said he did not support do-it-yourself dentistry.

"If treatment is based on fingerprints and records without the patient being examined personally, there is a much greater risk that the treatment will not be successful," said Peppitt.

– Sydney Morning Herald


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