Over four million people in the United States wear braces, and though they’re not cheap or the most fashionable, there’s a reason why so many people choose to undergo orthodontic treatment. The benefits of wearing braces last a lifetime and can extend into all areas of one’s life. A straight smile boosts confidence, promotes friendliness, improves function of the teeth, and betters oral hygiene. However, the strong desire for a perfect smile has led many people to fall into the trap of “Do-It-Yourself braces.”
The Start of a DIY Braces Movement
It may sound like a simple, cost-cost saving solution to your crooked teeth problem, but DIY braces can be extremely detrimental to your mouth and overall wellbeing. The DIY braces movement started with individuals sharing the extreme attempts to straighten their teeth without consulting an orthodontist. Some used paper clips, rubber bands, and elastic floss to move their teeth. Others attempted making retainers out of modeling clay or tied dental floss around their teeth.
In one case, a patient attempted to close a gap by wrapping rubber bands around his two front teeth. When the elastic was forgotten about, it became submerged under the gum and migrated to the root of the tooth which lead to bone loss. The result was the loss of the patient’s two front teeth and the only solution was a $50,000 replacement. Another at-home orthodontist actually 3D printed his own set of DIY Invisalign-style trays. The 23-year old digital design student was able to straighten his own smile in only 16 weeks and for under $60. Though it sounds like a dream come true, the student admits that for something as important as the health of your teeth, there’s “a lot of value in the analytical eye of a professional.”
DIY Braces Could Lead to Serious Damage
Orthodontists warn that a focus on just alignment, rather than the overall health and function of teeth, creates unstable results with long-term consequences. When a tooth is moved too quickly or without the guidance of a professional, it could result in loss of the supporting tooth root, gum recession, or even loss of the tooth altogether. Another problem with DIY orthodontics is that the results are usually permanent. Some people think that if they get into trouble with their DIY braces that they can just call a professional, but the damage is often irreversible. The American Association of Orthodontics specifically warns against DIY teeth straightening in multiple press releases and a series of videos highlighting the potential for serious damage.
Orthodontists undergo extensive training to help patients safely straighten their teeth and align their bite. They’re uniquely qualified to treat, diagnose, and prevent facial irregularities to correctly align the teeth and jaws. Once they graduate from dental school, orthodontists must complete two to three years of specialized education in an accredited orthodontic residency program. Though some people are concerned about the cost of orthodontic treatment, much of the cost is attributed the expertise of the orthodontist and their ability to safely and effectively straighten teeth. Oftentimes if cost is the primary issue, orthodontists are able to offer flexible payment plans to make treatment more affordable.
Keep the Long Term Effects in Mind
Before attempting to make your own paper clip braces or clay retainer, think about the potential long-term effects of DIY treatment. With today’s advancements in technology, there are so many options for effective treatment that fits your specific case and lifestyle. At Melbourne Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer everything from Invisalign to clear ceramic braces and traditional braces to surgical orthodontics so that we can establish the best treatment plan for our patients. We also offer early treatment and adult orthodontics because we believe that healthy teeth can be moved at any age.
Even though social media may support the case for at-home teeth straightening, the American Association of Orthodontists warns about how dangerous, ineffective, and permanent DIY treatment can be. Everyone can benefit from a straight, healthy smile, but this can only be achieved with the proper treatment plan from an orthodontist. Since orthodontists are specifically trained to align the teeth and jaws, they’re the only people uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat irregularities in tooth alignment and function. As your Melbourne orthodontist, we’re proud to bring our patients the highest standard of care and compassion throughout the entire treatment process. If you’re ready to start working towards your dream smile, contact us today to schedule an appointment!