Everybody loves a little DIY project. Whether it’s repurposing furniture, using items at hand to create cute decor, or concocting homemade beauty products, DIY taps into 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. If you can dream it, there’s probably a Pinterest tutorial for it! This is great for collective creativity, but like everything else, it can sometimes be taken too far. DIY orthodontics is a perfect example of that.

We take your oral health – and health in general! – to heart here at Dillehay Orthodontics.

Our team goes above and beyond to provide quality care, compassion, and a variety of options to each patient considering braces or other orthodontic treatment. You’re in trusted hands when visit us, something that’s important to remember when considering the trend of do-it-yourself braces, because this alternative method doesn’t have any experience or skill backing it!

What are DIY orthodontics?

All across YouTube, there are videos racking up hundreds of thousands of views showing children and teens attempting to straighten their teeth using DIY methods such as rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil. These have gained so much attention online that the American Association of Orthodontists felt compelled to issue a consumer alert after a survey among its 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 by using rubber bands, or “gap bands”, to close gaps and straighten teeth. These are nothing more than garden variety 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 doesn’t cost more than $5, and some of these DIY swear they’ve seen 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” option. But this is truly a case of “you get what you pay for” (and what you don’t!)

The dangers of DIY orthodontics

nail biting

Using elastics in dentistry and orthodontics is not a new phenomenon. The use of elastics in dentistry is not a new development. Practitioners once extracted problem teeth by placing a rubber band around it. Over time, the rubber band would work its way up or 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, it was done under supervision even then!

The biggest risk with gap bands lies in the potential for truly disastrous results. Because the shape of the teeth varies so greatly, it’s very easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues. Once embedded there, it becomes difficult if not impossible to retrieve on your own. If left untreated, it will continue along its path into the roots, causing nerve damage as it goes. Throughout this process, 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.

Some of the other risks involved in doing DIY braces are:

  • 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
  • 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

The repair and replacement of any missing teeth or bone due to gap bands, or other ill-advised DIY methods for straightening teeth, can often require complex and expensive dental procedures. Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Dillehay and Dr. J.K. know the importance of moving teeth slowly and over a longer period of time in order to ensure the health of the entire mouth and preserve the integrity of the eventual results.

There are no shortcuts to a better smile

Girl smiling with confetti

Quality orthodontic work isn’t quick, easy, or inexpensive. Creating the perfect smile is almost an art form! It requires education, training, and skill in the physics of moving teeth. Many people don’t understand that shifting teeth is a biological process that involves bone dissolving and rebuilding as they move into their new positions. It’s 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.

Trusted care in Wichita with Dillehay Orthodontics

Dillehay Orthodontics has been providing quality braces and other orthodontic treatment for over fifty years, and we pride ourselves on making it as easy as possible for everyone we see to achieve a beautiful smile that last a lifetime. The cost of orthodontic treatment varies depending on your individual needs and treatment, but we will always discuss this with you first, as well as offer various payment plan options. 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.

Don’t trust your smile to beauty bloggers and YouTube tutorials, when affordable orthodontics are available from Dillehay Orthodontics! If you’re in Wichita, Derby, Newton, Arkansas City, or the surrounding area, get in touch with us today to find out how we can get you started on the road to a straighter, healthier, safer smile.