I’m a sucker for custom shirts. I enjoy the process of selecting the fabrics, getting fit by my tailor, Jean Paul, and wearing the final product. They fit perfectly and I feel great when I wear them. I buy four to six shirts a year and I take really good care of them. In doing so, they last a long time. If I have a problem with one (i.e. tight fit when the gym takes a back seat), I can go back to my tailor and he can alter them. Custom shirts are expensive. Are they worth it? Yes, but expensive just the same. When I came across an online custom shirt company, I simply had to try it. Once I become a ‘member’, I had the option of putting in all of my physical parameters such as height, weight, size of t-shirt I wear, build, et cetera and their smart software could calculate my ‘perfect fit’ shirt size. Alternatively, I could elect to take a series of body measurements (with a tailors’ tape measure they sent me) to create my custom shirt size. Once done, I simply selected my fabric, buttons, collar, cuff and placket style and my first shirt was made. Upon delivery, I was quite impressed and I now own approximately a dozen of these shirts that are half of the cost of my typical tailor-made custom shirts. Do they fit the same as my tailor-made custom shirts? No. Are the stitching details the same? No. Are they hand-made? No. Will they last as long? Probably not. However, I still enjoy wearing these shirts more than ones purchased off the rack. I wear my tailor-made custom shirts daily to work and out to events and my online custom shirts are relegated to casual wear – on weekends, to my son’s hockey games, et cetera. What are the risks and potential consequences of me purchasing these custom shirts online? Certainly, one is that I may not love the shirt when it arrives. In that case, it takes a spot deep in my closet. Another is that I have more shirts. On a weekly basis I am reminded by my wife who asks, “Why do you need so many shirts?”, but that’s another story. Perhaps I am also taking away work from local manufacturing. Lastly, if I have a problem with a shirt, I usually stop wearing it and donate it to a shelter. In the end, the risk is economic but there is not an inherent health risk associated with my habit.
I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with this. Why drone on about custom shirts. Well, if you remove the term ‘custom shirts’ and replace it with ‘dentistry’, it starts to make sense.
The average consumer is a sucker for healthy, straight, white teeth that dentistry can offer. Dentistry delivered by a highly skilled dental practitioner fits well (i.e. occlusion), can make a patient feel great when using it (e.g. anterior veneers) and can last for a long time if well cared for. If a patient has a problem with their dental treatment, a visit to the dental practitioner can resolve the issue. Dentistry is expensive. Is it worth it? Absolutely, but it is expensive just the same. In fact, the average individual relies on insurance coverage to be able to access it. In our modern, technologically driven age, it would only be a matter of time that an online version of dental treatment become available. That time is here. A cursory search of the internet reveals many options for the DIY dental consumer such as bleaching kits, night guards, dentures and orthodontic treatment.
It’s not surprising that if you’re a dental consumer wanting straight teeth, the option of DIY orthodontics becomes appealing. It is less than half of the cost of traditional treatment and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Simply register as a ‘member’, take your own impressions or have your teeth scanned at a scanning center and within two weeks you’ll receive a ‘custom’ treatment plan and set of custom trays just for you. What are the risks and potential consequences of this? They can be serious. The known consequences that arise from DIY orthodontics are – black triangles, malocclusion, mobile teeth, gum recession, TMJ problems and tooth loss. Simply visit realself.com and you can find an exhaustive list of patient complaints. In fact, the satisfaction rate for DIY orthodontics hovers at approximately 53 per cent. DIY orthodontics is a serious threat to an individuals’ dental health and well-being. To compound this, it is a cost driven decision for most of the individuals who elect to do DIY orthodontics. I would submit that these same individuals have not been to a dentist and in all likelihood have underlying dental issues that cannot be detected with an impression or dental scan. The damage that can be done to these individuals’ teeth can be devastating and costly to fix.
The unfortunate part is that the general public is entirely unaware of the potential damage that DIY dentistry can inflict on them. It is up to us, as dental professionals, to inform the public about these risks as our governing bodies have elected to stay on the sidelines. Dentistry is not a commodity. Its delivery should be through a skilled dental practitioner. DIY dentistry is not the same as purchasing a custom shirt online. The risks and potential consequences can be devastating to one’s dental health and pocket book.
About the Author
Dr. Bruno Vendittelli is a Toronto based orthodontist whose practice is Forest Hill Orthodontics. He is a Staff Orthodontist at the Hosptial for Sick Children and an Associate at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry.
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