The Dangers Of DIY Orthodontics

The past few years have seen a huge resurgence in the DIY arena. From TV shows to social media, it seems like everywhere you look right now, there’s some kind of “how-to tutorial” or “step-by-step guide” on making something from scratch. Everybody loves a craft project every now and then, whether it’s building or painting something, repurposing everyday things you have lying around the house, or concocting homemade gifts. This can be great for our cultural creativity, but like everything else, the trend can sometimes be taken too far. DIY orthodontics is pretty much a  perfect example of that!

That’s right. We said DIY orthodontics. As hard as it is to believe, this is a thing that has happened frequently enough that the American Association of Orthodontists issued a consumer alert, urging people to “beware of Internet videos and websites which encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth. Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervision by an orthodontist… Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss, or other objects ordered on the Internet.”

Here at Dudley Smiles, we’re all about resourcefulness and being thrifty, but we also take oral health seriously. Dr. Si is an experienced orthodontist, and we have a team of skilled staff who proud to provide only the highest quality orthodontic care to families in Issaquah, Kent, and the surrounding communities. We have a wide variety of affordable orthodontic options to suit every patient, and you can rest assured that when you seek treatment with Dudley Smiles, you’re in far safer hands than anyone attempting DIY braces! Keep reading below to learn a little bit more about why you should avoid any orthodontic methods that aren’t backed by experience, skill, or science.

So, what exactly is this DIY orthodontics trend?

We know it sounds crazy, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Simply enter “DIY braces” into any search engine, then sit back and watch as it returns hundreds of pages of results. There are even videos that have racked up thousands of views by promising straighter smiles using everyday items like rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil to move the teeth into more desirable positions. The most popular method appears to be “gap bands,” which are basically cheap elastic hair ties that can be bought anywhere for a couple of bucks. Proponents of DIY braces believe that if you wrap these elastics around your misaligned teeth and wear them for several hours a day over an extended period of time, any gaps will gradually close and your bite will be straightened. Some even claim to have seen results from this method in as little as 45 days.

It’s an unavoidable fact of orthodontics that a significant amount of time, effort, and expense must go into successfully completing the treatment process. We completely understand why people would be attracted to the promise of a cheaper, easier, and faster option for straightening their smile. However, this is truly a case of getting what you pay for (and what you don’t pay for!)

Dudley Smiles staff working with a patient

The dangers involved in DIY braces

Using elastics in dentistry and orthodontics is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it was once a common method for extracting teeth. Practitioners would place a rubber band around the tooth causing the problem, then wait for it to fall out once enough bone and soft tissue was destroyed. However, even this kind of archaic tooth removal was done under the appropriate supervision of a “trained” specialist!

The truth is, there is a very real risk of disastrous results with gap bands, and any other unsupervised methods of DIY orthodontic treatment. The shape of teeth can vary widely, even in the same mouth, so it’s very easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues surrounding them. Once bands become embedded in this tissue, they become difficult to retrieve on your own, if not impossible. If this is left untreated over time, the band will continue on its trajectory, eventually hitting the roots and potentially causing nerve damage. The crowns will also begin to fan out as the roots are pulled together, resulting in erupting, loosening teeth. They may even get to the point that they begin falling out. 

Some of the other serious issues that can result from attempting DIY braces include, but are not limited to:

  • the teeth being moved at the wrong angle, resulting in a crooked smile
  • lacerations from gap bands sinking into the soft tissues
  • pain from the bands slipping below the surface of the teeth
  • the teeth being moved too quickly, causing long-term issues such as loss of root length, gum problems, etc.
  • small bands and makeshift brackets like earring backs or beads are choking hazards
  • the metal in paper clips and other such materials is potentially toxic if used long-term
  • bands that are snapped directly on the teeth can crack enamel
  • infected gums can sometimes result in the need for serious treatment, up to and including tooth extraction
  • a bite that does not fit together from improper diagnosis or the wrong treatment

A careful, experienced orthodontist like Dr. Si knows how important it is to move teeth slowly and safely over a longer period of time in order to ensure the mouth stays healthy, and that the integrity of the results aren’t compromised. Attempting any ill-advised DIY methods to straighten the teeth increases the risk of needing complex and expensive dental procedures in the future to repair any damage, including the repair and replacement of any missing teeth or bone.

Shortcuts to a straighter smile simply don’t exist

When it comes to high-quality orthodontic work, quick, easy, and inexpensive aren’t in our vocabulary. Crafting the kind of beautiful, customized smiles we’re known for requires education, training, and expertise in the physics and biology of moving teeth. This is a complicated biological process involving the bone-dissolving and rebuilding as they move into their new positions, and should be respected and treated as such. Long-term orthodontic success cannot be achieved with DIY methods, and orthodontic treatment should always be done under the supervision of a certified orthodontist like Dr. Si.

Dudley Smiles staff

Trust Dudley Smiles to deliver a straighter, healthier smile

Beauty bloggers and YouTube stars can be fun to watch, but you shouldn’t look to them for any meaningful orthodontic advice. When it comes to quality care and affordable orthodontics, you don’t need to look any further than Dudley Smiles! We ’re dedicated to making it as easy as possible for families in our community to achieve the kind of beautiful, healthy smiles you’ll feel confident in showing off to the world!

If you’re in Issaquah, Kent, or the surrounding area, and want more information about the difference professional orthodontics can make in your smile, give us a call today to schedule your free initial consultation? Our talented team will be able to assess any orthodontic needs you have, and discuss which treatment options will suit you best. Trust Dudley Smiles to get you started on the safest path to a straighter, healthier smile!

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