As we enter the holiday season, we know everyone is trying to put their best self forward preparing to gather around with loved ones. A good-looking smile with even teeth can be a major confidence booster and helps to make a lasting impression on others whether on a date, reunion, or even interview.
Each year millions and even billions of dollars are spent on products to help people achieve that beautiful smile. These days there are dozens of products and methods spreading across the internet claiming they can get your teeth to “pearlfection”. There are even some who have resulted in making their own concoctions of dental care to save on money.
Please heed our warning, when it comes to dental care, doing it on your own can have dangerous and disastrous results.
Recent videos and posts of how to perform “do-it-yourself” or DIY dental procedures have become more popular and resulted in a rise of patients suffering from DIY procedures gone wrong. These are problematic trends that can have serious consequences.
We’d like to warn you about some of these dangers in hopes that you will see through the false promises they give. Instead, save yourself the trouble and toothache of DIY treatments and come to us for your dental needs.
An internet trend that has come to our attention is the increasing videos and articles on how to make your own braces. While we understand that many people consider braces a rite of passage and trendy look, it is important to note that orthodontic treatment is a dental procedure and not something one should take into his or her own hands.
What are they?
To make these DIY braces, people fasten household items to their teeth to move their teeth to where they think they should be. Some of these items include rubber bands, dental floss, hair ties, paperclips, and earring backs.
A popular method of DIY orthodontic treatment is to use clear hair ties to close a gap or straighten teeth.
The idea is to wrap these ties around the misaligned teeth and after an indeterminate amount of time (daily or nightly wear), the gaps are supposed to close and straighten your bite. A small pack of these hair ties costs around $5 and some people who claim to see results in as little as 45 days. The appeal of DIY braces can be awfully attractive, but it is truly a case of you get what you pay for–and you should beware!
Straightening your teeth isn’t just about closing gaps; braces help align the upper and lower teeth to reduce pressure on your jaw and keep your teeth from wearing on each other over time.
What are the effects of DIY orthodontics?
The shape of teeth vary greatly as each mouth is unique. It can be easy for those rubber bands and ties to slide into soft tissue. Once embedded into your gums they can be difficult and nearly impossible to remove without professional help.
If left untreated, it will continue to move further into your gum line causing nerve damage as it makes its way towards the root of your tooth. This process will cause the crowns of your teeth to extrude as the roots are slowly killed and the tooth becomes loose and falls out. The loss of teeth and nerve damage are common complications that we see from DIY orthodontics but are not the only things to worry about. Other complications include:
- Choking on makeshift brackets such as earring backs
- Metal clips such as paper clips and other metals can become toxic if left in the mouth for extended periods
- The snapping of bands directly onto your teeth can crack your enamel. Enamel loss is permanent.
- The gums can become infected, resulting in serious and often expensive treatment
- Crooked smiles due to teeth being moved at the wrong angle.
- Pain and lacerations from bands sinking into soft tissue
- Long term issues and pain from moving teeth too quickly.
Quality dental care is not quick, easy or inexpensive. Creating the perfect smile is a practice that requires education, training, experience, and skill to know how to properly and safely move teeth.
Mail-Order dentistry or “teledentistry” is now on the rise. Instead of going to a dentist or orthodontist, there are now direct to consumer companies that will supply you with orthodontic appliances. These companies will often send an at-home impression kit for you to make your own impressions and mail them back to the company for evaluation. The company will then decide if you meet their criteria and once approved the aligners are made and sent back with instructions on how to correct your teeth at home.
These products are significantly cheaper making them appear to be more convenient to consumers. However, the criteria for the company’s acceptance does not take into account clients who might suffer from oral health issues such as gum disease and dental decay. These conditions often cause the misalignment of teeth and cannot be corrected with mail-order productions.
Mail-Order companies have the goal of making money by selling you products that should be supervised by qualified oral health professionals and are willing to compromise consumer health and safety for the sake of profit.
Dangers of Mail-Order Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontists do more than just straighten your teeth. They identify and treat oral health concerns before considering treatment. This is why a comprehensive exam is performed before recommending any form of orthodontic treatment. With mail-order companies, other issues that the consumer might have can easily be overlooked as they can’t be seen with a simple impression kit.
Some dangers of these products are:
- Poorly fitted products – A one-size-fits-all aligner or impression mold done without a professional evaluation can lead to poorly fitted aligners that may result in the loss of teeth, damage/infection of gums, inability to open/close jaw, and often teeth are left worse after receiving mail-order treatment.
- Lack of supervision – There is no supervision with mail-order companies. Your teeth might move faster or slower than anticipated which is why orthodontic treatment requires frequent check-ups to see your progress throughout treatment. Without a dentist or orthodontist supervising you, issues will go unnoticed and may lead to further problems.
- Aligners aren’t always the right choice – Aligners are not the ultimate solution to uneven or misaligned smiles. Your mouth is unique and different treatments may be required for you to achieve your perfect smile.
It is important to remember that orthodontic treatment is a medical service, not a simple product or device to buy easily. Dental health professionals are here to decide what treatment plan will work best for you. Though these options can be tempting on the wallet, often consumers find themselves spending more money in the long-run when they come in for treatment to fix issues created by mail-order or DIY products.
Your teeth will thank you for putting your trust in dental professionals when it comes to achieving your perfect smile. Bring your questions and desires with you during your next Meier & Benitez Orthodontics appointment and we will be sure to help you. Together, we will make a safe plan on how to achieve your best smile.