Invisible aligners have revolutionized the way we realign teeth and treat dental disorders. Years ago, the often painful and cumbersome wire-and-brackets style of braces were the only options available for straighter teeth. Nowadays, patients have a choice. But could those choices come at an unexpected cost?
In a recent article in Allure magazine, the author reports that her eating disorder was reignited when she underwent temporomandibular joint disorder treatment with invisible aligners. According to the article, because the aligners were left in for so long and limited the amount of time the author spent eating, she began to mentally focus on food again after being in recovery for her disorder.
Dr. Alexandra George practices neuromuscular orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry from her Wexford, Pennsylvania, practice. She says it’s plausible to trigger an eating disorder with an orthodontic appliance – but the problem may not be isolated to just invisible aligners.
“Invisible aligners aren’t the only devices that require removal to eat, or that require round-the-clock use,” says George. “Retainers and even some bite guards require this as well. So it’s not that these aligners are more dangerous somehow.”
In fact, according to George, any orthotic device could be problematic, depending on the patient. The important takeaway is communication.
“We want to make sure the patient has open lines of communication with their doctor so that if their braces or aligners or retainers become problematic, we can find a solution before any harm is done,” George says.
George also suggests working with a mental health professional during treatment, if needed.
“Your dentist can help with your bite, but if you are struggling emotionally with some aspect of your life or your treatment, it’s important to get the help you need from the right person,” she says.