Aligners or braces sent directly to your home

The traditional way to receive healthcare is in person, with you and the healthcare professional sitting in the same room, talking through treatment options and agreeing a way forward.

As technology advances, some forms of treatment are increasingly being offered remotely, including orthodontics.

New forms of treatment can bring real benefits to patients, especially when costs are lowered and access is improved. But new ways of doing things must not risk patient safety.

Below we give you some information to help you think about whether aligners or braces sent directly to your home are right and safe for you.

As with all dental care, if there's a problem with treatment you have already had, we recommend that you speak to the treating dentist in the first instance. If that doesn’t fix the problem, or you feel it’s important we know about something that’s gone wrong, you can raise a concern with us. We provide more information about this in our Complaints and concerns section.

The professionals involved in this type of treatment are called dentists or orthodontists. Here though, we just refer to dentists.


The dentist needs to make sure the treatment is safe for you. Traditionally, you would be seen in person for a dental checkup to make sure of this. One reason for this is that there are some conditions that can make aligners or braces unsafe. If you have one of these conditions, you might not know and, without an in-person checkup, the dentist might not spot it either.

Without seeing you in person, the dentist might not have all the information they need about your oral health. In addition, they may need recent X-rays and your medical history.

So, if the dentist has not seen you for an in-person checkup, it's a good idea to ask them to explain why you don't need one.

Impressions of teeth

Taking an impression of teeth is a dental skill that needs training and practice to reliably get right. If the impression has not been taken by a dental professional, it's a good idea to ask the dentist about this. A poor impression can lead to poor aligners or braces, which could end in dangerous treatment or disappointing results. 

You need to have been given all the information about what the treatment involves. This includes the benefits and risks, and whether there are any other treatments options.

Before your treatment can begin, the dentist needs to make sure you have given valid, informed consent. That is impossible without some form of direct interaction as you need to be able to ask questions. This doesn't need to be in person - it could take place remotely, for example over the phone or on a video call.

Some questions to help you think about consent

  • Have you had the opportunity to ask questions that might help you make a decision?
  • Do you fully understand what you are signing up for and how the treatment will work?
  • If there are treatment options, have these been explained to you?
  • Do you understand the likely or possible outcomes of the treatment?
  • Will the results be permanent?
  • How long will the treatment take to finish?
  • If there are risks, have these been explained to you?
  • What happens if you're not happy with the outcome?
  • Do you feel like you're being put under pressure to decide quickly?

It might seem like a simple or obvious thing, but knowing the name of the person who is treating you is very important.

It is important because the dentist who prescribes your aligners is responsible for all of your treatment.

Some questions to help you think about this

  • Do you know the dentist’s name?
  • Can you contact the dentist directly if you need to ask them something, or if something goes wrong?
  • Are you confident the dentist is registered, and therefore allowed to practise in the UK?