'Self-service' clear braces treatments may cause permanent damage to teeth: consumer watchdog

Consumer Council found that some self-service orthodontic treatments may damage patients' teeth, and many aligner companies failed to provide dental check-ups and treatment follow-ups by registered dentists.

Orthodontics is a professional service that must be performed and monitored by a registered dentist.

The Council pointed out that some aligner companies or agents pose a great risk to consumers by streamlining a complex dental procedure, packaging aligner treatment only as goods and services, and leaving treatment procedures to be managed by the customers.

The Council surveyed six dental services companies that provide clear aligner treatment and revealed only four provided dental check-ups and treatment follow-ups by a registered dentist. 

The six companies charged clients from HK$16,000 to HK$50,000 for the treatments, claiming to provide services ranging from "fully self-service remote treatment" to "dentist-led treatment with follow-up."

One of the companies only provided 3D dental scans with no dental check-ups, claiming the treatment progress would be monitored remotely through an app. Another required full payment before arranging a dental check-up, while no treatment follow-up would be provided.

The Council reminds consumers not to accept treatment without dental check-ups or follow-ups by registered dentists simply because of the lower price or convenience, as that may lead to permanent damage to their teeth while also being difficult to seek redress.

The Council opines that the government needs to closely monitor the risks posed to consumers by this type of business model, and consider regulating such full/semi-self-service orthodontic services.