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
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.
We Need Some Face Time!
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.
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.