Clear aligner dental therapy in India

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Indian Orthodontic Society campaigns against at-home aligner treatment

The Indian Orthodontic Society is concerned about direct-to-consumer clear aligner therapy and is aiming to educate dentists, dental students and consumers about the dangers that inadequate treatment can pose to tooth enamel, roots, gums, bones and joints. (Image: WESTOCK PRODUCTIONS/Shutterstock)

CHENNAI, India: The Indian Orthodontic Society (IOS) has submitted a complaint about direct-to-consumer (D2C) clear aligner therapy to the country’s highest dental regulatory body, but the organisation has not stopped there. The IOS is taking its message to the streets via its Smile Rally initiative, a series of events that aims to dissuade consumers from having orthodontic treatment that is not supervised by a registered dentist or orthodontist.

The IOS lodged a formal complaint to the Dental Council of India, resulting in the latter issuing a public notice about D2C clear aligner therapy providers who aggressively market their services to consumers. Such treatment violates India’s statutory acts and regulations regarding the provision of oral healthcare, the public notice advised.

The council stated in the public notice that the scanning of teeth should be performed by registered dentists only, that dental treatment should be provided only by a registered dentist in his or her clinic or hospital and that companies should not use aggressive marketing campaigns designed to entice the public into seeking dental treatment.

The society is taking its message to dental students, practitioners and consumers via the Smile Rally, a nationwide initiative organised by the IOS to counter what it says is a public health threat posed by D2C clear aligner companies. The initiative was launched in Mangalore in April during a gathering of 2,500 dental professionals, and the Smile Rally has since embarked on a national tour that includes public events, seminars, lectures and training courses. It is due to visit more than 30 Indian cities, and the latest Smile Rally events were held in Pune in Maharashtra from 13–15 July.

IOS orthodontists told the Indian Express in July: “It is natural to get tempted by offers from companies and do-it-yourself orthodontics, but it is important to understand its potential risks and disadvantages.” Dr Rajaganesh Gautam, IOS executive committee member, added that “Movement of teeth with respect to jaws and joints is an extremely sensitive procedure and care should be taken to ensure the best possible results with minimal damage to enamel, roots, gums, bones and joints.”

Dr Srikrishna Chalasani, president of IOS, told the newspaper that several aligner companies have entered the Indian market, offering therapy directly to consumers and eliminating the involvement of dentists. Research conducted by Dental Tribune International showed that an array of companies is active in the D2C clear aligner segment in India. Companies such as toothsi and Glass Aligners send impression kits to consumers and provide them with instructions and video tutorials to help them take impressions of their teeth. These impressions are used as a basis, from which a treatment plan is designed by an orthodontist. Toothsi states on its website that treatment is remotely monitored by orthodontists, and that consumers can contact them if they have concerns about their treatment.

The developments in India mirror those that took place in Europe last year, which culminated in a joint declaration by the European Federation of Orthodontic Specialist Associations regarding the remote treatment of malocclusion. Any treatment of a malocclusion must be “exclusively performed by a fully qualified dentist”, must be “preceded by a thorough clinical examination” and requires “regular clinical monitoring”, the joint declaration by 31 dental and orthodontic societies in 25 countries read.

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