Do-It-Yourself Orthodontia May Do More Harm Than Good

A patient's mouth showing metal braces on their upper teeth

Many consider the emergence of the Internet and The Information Age a largely good thing, and it is — for the most part. U.S. adults may have access to endless information, but it is also important for users to assess and process what’s out there, knowing that sources may be ill-informed or altogether incorrect.

In fact, many family dentists, cosmetic dentists, and emergency dentists fear for the future of their patients’ smiles, particularly when they take everything they may see or read online at face value.

YouTube Users Start Troubling Trend
While it began with preteens and teenagers and may have required a one-on-one talk with Mom or Dad, there are now YouTube videos with adults teaching others how to close conspicuous spaces between teeth using rubber bands. This method can be dangerous and unsanitary, no matter how old, meticulous, or careful you might be, dentists warn. “These so-called ‘gap bands’ can work themselves under the gum and lead to tooth loss,” a Feb. 1 New York Times article reports. There has been a notable increase in emergency dental treatments, thanks to do-it-yourself (DIY) dental fixes, such as gap bands, and resulting gum inflammation and infections. Approximately 2.3 million Americans already require tooth replacement options, like crowns or removal dental bridges. Don’t contribute to these numbers with ill-advise, at-home dental procedures.

Are Braces Through The Mail Safe?
Unfortunately, the best dentists agree: the answer is no. While a few companies are cropping up, inviting customers to try Invisalign-like trays and straightening options at lower costs, dentists say that the process can be potentially dangerous. During more traditional orthodontia treatment, a professional will monitor patients’ progress and dental and oral health throughout, making any adjustments as necessary. At-home or by-mail alternatives may not address serious problems, like an increased risk for gum disease and oral infections.

Children already miss 51 million school hours owing to dental problems. Adults similarly miss significant work hours, also to seek routine or emergency dental treatment. Keep these numbers at bay by avoiding risky, at-home orthodontia solutions.