These days YouTube has a video tutorial for everything: How to cook spaghetti, how to change a car tire, how to do the perfect squat……and how to make do-it-yourself braces at home. While the proliferation of online videos with helpful tips can foster a healthy pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude, a pull-your-teeth-up-by-the-braces approach to orthodontia is dangerous for the health of your mouth and teeth.
There is a hazardous new trend in the do-it-yourself industry: pre-teens and teenagers are making online videos sharing how to use common household items such as rubber bands, dental floss, fishing line, hair elastics, and paper clips to fashion homemade braces that will close gaps between teeth.
DIY orthodontia will result in pain and have unforeseen consequences you may not have considered yet. Here’s why this dangerous trend should be met with alarm:
- It won’t work. While the purpose of wearing braces is to close gaps between teeth, the process is much more complex than that. The orthodontic treatment moves both the teeth and the jaw into different positions – one that aligns the upper and lower teeth to take pressure off the jaw and keep teeth from grinding down on each other. Over time, constant grinding can wear down strong teeth. A set of homemade braces with rubber bands will shift teeth without also shifting the other gears that keep your mouth in good working order.
- It’s highly unsanitary. Household items like fishing line and hair elastics are covered in germs that will spread to your mouth. And cuts on your gums from sharp objects like paper clips can cause a nasty infection.
- It can cause permanent damage. DIY braces can lead to a host of life-long maladies, such as jaw pain, bite problems, and tooth loss. Moving teeth without professional orthodontic guidance can pull and eventually break the ligaments anchoring tooth to bone, resulting in tooth loss. And household items can damage tooth enamel, which causes sensitivity and leads to a higher risk for cavity development. Paper clips and rubber bands that get lost in the night could be found wedged under gums, and eventually cause an infection.
- It’s not worth it. Saving money by using homemade braces will not actually save you any money at all – the costs of repairing permanent mouth, tooth, and jaw damage will be far more costly than professional orthodontic treatment. Today there are a multitude of options for braces that provide more comfort and style, including clear aligners (Invisalign), lighter brackets made of plastic or lightweight metal, fun colors, and flexible wires. Braces are no longer the eyesore they once were, but mouth damage caused by improper misalignment of teeth is not a pretty sight.
The process of placing braces is a medical procedure that slowly shifts teeth through bone over time and influences bone growth. Only an orthodontist is trained and certified to assess your mouth and determine any underlying problems before selecting a braces treatment that will affect your teeth, jaw, bite pattern, and even the shape of your face. Taking matters into your own hands by constructing DIY mouth hardware can result in permanent damage and infection, which is why the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) has issued a consumer alert for “gap bands” and other home remedies for closing gaps between teeth. When it comes to braces, do not take the advice of unqualified teenagers on the internet; talk to Dr. Boyett at Boyett Family Dentistry instead. She will assess your mouth and determine if there is a need for future orthodontic treatment. If you are worried about gaps in your teeth, don’t reach for the rubber bands – reach for the phone and call Boyett Family Dentistry at 863-294-9200 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Boyett today.