DIY is having a bit of a moment right now, with social media full of tutorials and how-to’s on everything from repurposing old objects to making your own bath bombs. This has been great for anyone with a creative streak – or a thrifty one! – but it does have its limits. As with most trends, this one can sometimes go too far, and DIY orthodontics is a perfect example of that.
Here at Westfall Orthodontics, we think being resourceful and crafty can be a lot of fun. However, we also take oral health seriously, especially that of our patients! Dr. Westfall and the rest of our talented team are proud to provide high-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Abingdon, Bristol, Richlands, and the surrounding communities. We offer a wide variety of affordable treatment options to suit every budget, so there’s never a reason to experiment with risky DIY methods that aren’t backed by science, experience, or skill.
Give us a call or click here to schedule a FREE consultation with our talented team!
To learn more about why you should keep your smile in safe hands by choosing an experienced orthodontist, keep reading below!
DIY orthodontics: a dangerous trend
As bizarre as it sounds, if you enter “DIY braces” into any search engine, you’ll get many pages of results. Videos are especially popular, with the most popular ones garnering several thousand views. Many make the claim that you can straighten your teeth using nothing more than everyday items like rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil.
Some of these videos have had so many views and prompted so many copycats that the American Association of Orthodontists felt compelled to issue a consumer alert. After a survey of its members showed almost 15% of them had seen patients with problems caused by DIY attempts, they crafted a statement that read, in part:
“The American Association of Orthodontists is urging consumers 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.”
There’s no getting around the fact that successful orthodontic treatment requires a significant investment in time, effort, and funds to produce lasting results you’re proud of. We understand why someone would be attracted to the promise of a cheap and easy option for straightening their teeth! But the warning “you get what you pay for” is especially true when it comes to your oral health. Simply put, cutting corners can be dangerous, and in the most severe cases, disastrous.
The risks of DIY braces
Amongst those who experiment with DIY orthodontics, the most popular method appears to be “gap bands.” These are, in fact, nothing more than cheap hair elastics you can find in just about any shop for a couple of dollars. The theory is that DIY braces can be achieved by wrapping these elastics around misaligned teeth and wearing them daily or nightly for an extended amount of time. Some claim that in as little as 45 days, gaps will begin to close, and the overall bite will begin to straighten. While it probably goes without saying, there is no actual scientific proof behind this claim!
Most people don’t realize how widely the shape of teeth can vary, even within the same mouth. This makes it easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues surrounding them. Once bands become embedded in this tissue, they’re difficult to retrieve without help from a dentist or orthodontist. If left in place, embedded bands will continue to move, eventually hitting the roots and possibly causing nerve damage.
As the roots are pulled together, the crowns will also begin to fan out, and the teeth may begin to erupt and loosen. They may even loosen enough that they start falling out. As if that isn’t bad enough, there’s a long list of other issues that can result from attempting to straighten the teeth with DIY braces. These include but aren’t limited to:
– the teeth moving in at wrong angles, resulting in a crooked smile
– gap bands sinking into the soft tissues of the gums, causing lacerations and pain
– the teeth being moved too quickly, which can cause long-term issues like a loss of length
along the root, gum problems, etc.
– small bands and makeshift brackets (such as earring backs or tiny beads) can be potential
– the metal in paper clips and other such materials may be toxic if used over an extended
period of time
– bands that are snapped directly on the teeth can crack enamel
– infected gums, resulting in the need for serious treatment, up to and including tooth
– no diagnosis, improper diagnosis, or incorrect treatment can result in a misaligned (or
further misaligned) bite
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Westfall has spent many years learning how to move teeth safely, slowly, and effectively in order to ensure overall oral health is maintained. Attempting any kind of DIY braces sets you up for failure from the start. It also increases the risk of needing complex procedures to repair any associated damage, which can be quite extensive (not to mention expensive!)
When it comes to quality, shortcuts don’t exist
Where high-quality orthodontic work is concerned, it doesn’t tend to be quick, easy, or inexpensive (which isn’t the same thing as affordable.) That’s because it takes a lot of education, expertise, and innovative orthodontic technology to create the perfect customized smile for just for you. Orthodontics is a complex field, and straightening a smile isn’t as simple as pushing the teeth together with a few bands here and there. To move the teeth into more desirable positions, we must actually work with a complicated biological process that involves dissolving the bone and then rebuilding it over time, all under expert observation. Long-term orthodontic success that is safe simply can’t be achieved with DIY methods. Any orthodontic treatment should be supervised by a board-certified orthodontist like Dr. Westfall.
Trust your teeth to the experts at Westfall Orthodontics
Viral videos can have a lot of entertainment value, and sometimes you can even learn something from them. But you should never trust YouTube for orthodontic advice! Orthodontic treatment is an investment, but it’s one that will pay for itself in confidence and oral health over a lifetime.
It is our mission to provide our patients with high-quality treatment that fits every budget, because we believe everyone deserves a beautiful smile! We offer a variety of payment options to meet your needs, including Visa and MasterCard. We also offer financing options with affordable monthly payments debited directly from your checking account or billed to a credit card. There is a discount for patients who pay in full at the beginning of the treatment process, and we accept payment from most insurance plans.
Something as important as your smile deserve expert attention. If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile in a stress-free environment, give us a call or click here to schedule a FREE consultation with our talented team!