Whether it is repurposing furniture, using items at hand to create cute decor, or concocting homemade beauty products, everybody loves a little DIY project. There is a common human desire to make something with our own hands, to stretch resources to their limit, and to do it all with little to no expense—  DIY taps directly into the heart of this. If you can dream it, there is probably a Youtube or Pinterest tutorial for it! DIY orthodontics is a perfect example of that great collective creativity, but like everything else, it can sometimes be taken too far.

To provide quality care, compassion, and a variety of options to each patient considering braces or other orthodontic treatment, our team at Craig & Streight Orthodontics goes above and beyond. You are in trusted hands when you visit us, something that is important to remember when considering the trend of do-it-yourself braces, because this alternative method does not have any proven skills or experience backing it. Here at Craig & Streight Orthodontics we take your oral health to heart!

What Are DIY Orthodontics?

There are videos racking up hundreds of thousands of views showing children and teens attempting to straighten their teeth using DIY methods like rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil all across YouTube. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) felt compelled to issue a consumer alert because these videos have gained so much attention online. A survey among AAO members showed that nearly 13% of its members are seeing patients who have tried DIY methods, with some attempts causing irreparable damage. The alert states 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.”

The most popular method of DIY orthodontics is to use rubber bands to close gaps and straighten teeth. These are nothing more than generic hair elastics, usually clear. The idea is to wrap these elastics around your misaligned teeth, and after an indeterminate amount of time of daily or nightly wear, gaps will close and your bite will be straightened. A small package of hair elastics will not cost more than $5, and some of these DIY plans claim users will see results in as little as 45 days. Given all that goes into having braces put on by an actual orthodontist, we can understand the attraction to this kind of cheap and easy fix. But this is truly a case of getting what you pay for— and what you do not!

broken retainer

The Dangers of DIY Orthodontics

Using elastics in dentistry and orthodontics is not a new phenomenon or development. Practitioners once extracted problem teeth by placing rubber bands around them. Over time, the rubber band worked its way up and down the sides of the tooth roots, destroying the bone and soft tissues until the tooth simply fell out. While this was considered a safe and effective way to remove teeth at the time, even it was done under supervision!

The potential for truly disastrous results is the biggest risk associated with gap bands. Because the shape of teeth vary so greatly, it is very easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues. Once embedded there, it becomes difficult if not impossible to retrieve without the help of a dental professional. If left untreated, it will continue along its path causing nerve damage as it goes into the roots. As the processes continues the teeth will begin to extrude, the crowns will fan out as the roots are pulled together, and the teeth become increasingly loose, sometimes to the point of falling out. Possible loss of teeth and nerve damage are not the only risks associated with DIY orthodontics. Just a few of the charming potential problems are:

  • Choking on makeshift brackets such as earring backs or beads, or on small bands.
  • The metal used in paper clips and other such materials can be toxic if left in the mouth for an extended period of time.
  • The snapping of bands directly on the teeth can crack enamel.
  • The gums can become infected, resulting in the need for serious treatment, including tooth extraction.
  • Ending up with a crooked smile due to teeth being moved at the wrong angle.
  • Pain and laceration from bands sinking into the soft tissues.
  • Pain and possible long-term issues from moving teeth too quickly.

Complex and expensive dental procedures are often required to repair and replace missing teeth or bone due to gap bands, or other ill-advised DIY methods for straightening teeth. An experienced orthodontics team like the one at Craig & Streight, know the importance of moving teeth slowly and over a longer period of time in order to ensure the health and integrity of the entire mouth.

Girl at doctors office

There Are No Shortcuts

Quality orthodontic work is not quick, easy, or inexpensive. Creating the perfect smile is an art form! It requires education, training, and skill in the physics of moving teeth. Many people do not understand that shifting teeth is a biological process that involves bone dissolving and rebuilding as they move into their new positions. It is much more complicated than simply encouraging teeth to move closer together to close a gap or straighten a smile, and is best done under the supervision of an orthodontist after an in-person consultation that includes complete diagnostic records.

At Craig & Streight Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on making it as easy as possible for everyone we see to achieve a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. We offer various payment plans and options since we know the cost of orthodontic treatment varies depending on your individual needs and treatment, so we always discuss this with you first. Our team will work with you to create a payment plan that fits your budget, and you will know what to expect before treatment ever begins.

Do not trust your smile to beauty bloggers and YouTube tutorials, when affordable orthodontics are available from Craig & Streight Orthodontics! If you are in the Norman or Oklahoma City area, stop by one of our three convenient locations or call us today! We want to travel with you on your road to a straighter, healthier, safer smile.