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The Dangers of do it Yourself Braces

By May 22, 2015Blog

We love the DIY movement as much as the next person. But there’s a huge difference between making your own coffee table and something like DIY braces. Videos of people straightening their teeth with elastic bands, known as gap bands, rubber bands, dental floss and other objects have been getting serious views on YouTube. Now websites are selling these gap bands promising consumers they’ll leave you with a straight smile for next to nothing. A recent New York Times article highlighted this do it yourself teeth straightening trend and yeah, of course, a super cheap alternative to braces is appealing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t only seem too good to be true; it is too good to be true. Here’s why:

Do it Yourself Braces Safety Concerns

Do it Yourself Braces

We’ll get to the effectiveness and logistics later, but let’s start with the basic question, “Are DIY braces dangerous?” Yes! You shouldn’t apply foreign objects to your teeth without a doctor’s supervision and this includes elastics. The gap bands that are used to close the space between two teeth can make their way under the gums, which can destroy the bone and soft tissue causing teeth to fall out at the root. If you’re not too squeamish, the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics published a photo of the damage caused by a rogue band.

Once the rubber band is buried in the gums, it’s extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, to remove. The solution will either be living with the missing teeth (one way to avoid braces!) or undergoing time consuming and expensive procedures to fix the damage and put in dental implants, crowns or dentures.

In addition to tooth loss, the dangers of do it yourself orthodontics also include allergic reactions to the materials, such as latex, and accidentally aspirating the objects used. Plus, the teeth are part of a larger whole and closing the gap between two teeth may cause space between surrounding teeth, creating further bite problems.

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It takes more than YouTube videos and Internet tutorials to become an orthodontist and that’s because it’s complex and teeth straightening is a medical procedure. Every patient is different and what works for one individual may not work for another. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to malocclusion, though that did make for a nice rhyme. When patients come into our Brooklyn orthodontic clinic for a consultation, they receive an exam, photographs and x-rays, all of which have to be done face-to-face and are crucial for forming a diagnosis and determining any underlying problems and conditions, including oral health concerns that must be addressed before braces. It’s only when we have all of the information that we can customize a treatment plan that specifically fits your needs. You can’t do this with elastics, mail-order aligners or any other DIY orthodontics endeavors.

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It’s not just the first consultation that’s important either. When undergoing braces or Invisalign treatment, there will be periodic appointments so that we can assess your progress, make adjustments and ensure your teeth are being straightened efficiently, safely and effectively.

Long Term Teeth Straightening Results

If you’re going to put in the effort to straighten your teeth, you’ll want to do it correctly the first time. If you do move your teeth using an at home method and eventually decide to have braces, be aware you might have just added more time and expense to your treatment. Relying on a professional ensures the solution you choose, whether it’s metal braces, Invisalign or lingual braces, works for you and the teeth move in a way that’s in harmony with your jaw. The end result will last. Lifelong straight teeth also involve using a retainer when you get your braces off and retainers too must come from an orthodontist. You’re not going to get a permanent solution from an at-home, quick fix.

We all want straight teeth but do it yourself tooth straightening isn’t the way to go. It’s dangerous and ineffective. So step away from YouTube! Contact Fresh Orthodontics in Brooklyn and we’ll set up a complimentary consultation in our Park Slope office. We can chat about the different options so we can achieve a perfect smile in a way that fits your needs and budget.

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4 Comments

  • Keith Cheatham Jr says:

    Hi, I’m 13 years old. I live in Charlotte, NC. I’m a A-B honor-roll student. In great health. I read many ads of orthodontist saying that teeth bands are bad. Well I have a gap the size of almost half a regular size tooth. I just had a dentist appointment, where my dentist said i have strong well- taken care of teeth. Of course, she gave my mom a referral to a orthodontist. They always say BRACES!! My parents work hard!!! And still can’t afford dental insurance!! So pay for dental appointments with cash!!. My mom always says to the orthodontist the payment will be out-of- pocket. They still give some fee my parents can’t afford. This is why people end up doing these crazy solutions. Thanks for listening. I need help.. P.S. Good kid with Good parents with a horrible GAP…

    • Fresh Orthodontics says:

      It sounds to me like you’re a smart kid and doing the right thing by asking questions! It’s always healthier and safer to have professional care for your teeth and help you get the smile you want. You’re not alone. A lot of people don’t have dental insurance, and those that do are sometimes surprised that many insurance companies only cover a small portion of the treatment. I know it’s frustrating when costs are involved, but most orthodontists are pretty reasonable and work hard to keep patients happy and to make care accessible.

      Start by asking your orthodontist if they offer any payment plans or third party financing options to help make payments more manageable. You’d be surprised at how accommodating they might be. Another option is to visit a couple different orthodontists to find the best fit for you at a reasonable fee that fits your budget. The most important thing is to make an educated decision on your care. Those Do-It-Yourself kits could spell bad news and end up costing a lot more money to repair the potential damage.

      Dr. Khanna

  • Bianca says:

    Hi my name is Bianca I’m a 10th grader currently in honor classes. I was scrolling on youtube and happen to stumble upon this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpZKF72qvW8 . It is a “DIY cheap braces tutorial” now I have a gap that i could fit a tooth pick in. Trust me I don’t like smiling because of it. But I understand that this “DIY” Can be worse than the DIY braces. My parents work from 7am-5pm and at my dentist office they only had early appointments on weekdays for the orthodontist. Another thing to explain one of my front teeth is stuck in the gum. They told me to see the orthodontist first but when I went the ortho said I was not suppose to see them but another dentist. This was a while ago but In which not only would my parents working be an issue but at my old dentist they didn’t accept my Insurance. My family cannot afford them and I do not know what to do. I really do need the braces and I would love to ask what should I do?? Thank you for looking at my comment I do need this done before my school year starts…..

    • Dr. Ankush Khanna says:

      Hi Bianca. I understand the appeal of a quick and cheap fix, but properly diagnosing your needs and managing the movement of your teeth is a very important consideration. I’m glad that you recognize the dangerous side effects that could occur by trying to do a home remedy. Damaging effects of DIY orthodontics could end up costing a lot more than braces. When you mention that you have a tooth stuck in the gums, it’s likely that you have a more complex situation that will need proper diagnosis by an orthodontic specialist and may involve other doctors as well. You’re not alone in your concerns. Keep doing your research. You’ll find that a lot of orthodontists offer evening and weekend appointments to accommodate working parents and school activities. Check with your insurance company to get a list of providers that are in your network to help narrow down your search. Many offices are willing to work out a monthly payment plan option that can fit in your budget. If finances are still prohibitive, there are even charitable programs out there like Smiles Change Lives and Smile for a Lifetime that can help you attain the care you need.

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