The Dangers of DIY Braces
By: Dr. Donald Gundlach
Many preteens and teens consider braces to be a rite of passage in their young lives. However, there’s an online trend that’s causing kids to do irreversible damage to their teeth. Videos of kids explaining how to make do-it-yourself (DIY) braces have taken the internet by storm, and this trend is incredibly harmful to your oral health as a whole.
What Are DIY Braces?
To make DIY braces, kids fasten household items to their teeth and move them where they think they should be. In the videos posted online, teens and young adults use household items like rubber bands, dental floss, fishing line, earring backs, paper clips, and more. Some kids claim that these items “get lost” during the night, but in reality they end up lodged underneath the gums.
Straightening teeth isn’t just about closing gaps between your teeth; braces align the upper and lower teeth to reduce pressure on the jaw and keep teeth from wearing on each other over time. If kids try to move their own teeth, they are not taking into consideration other areas of the mouth that professional braces correct.
What Are the Effects of DIY Braces?
Braces are a medical procedure that actually involves slowly and cautiously moving teeth through bone and influencing bone growth. If you try to straighten your teeth on your own you can damage your teeth and gums so severely that we’re not able to save the tooth. There are ligaments that hold your teeth into the bone and when you move your teeth, these ligaments begin to break. Replacing a missing tooth is an expense that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
Even if your tooth doesn’t actually fall out, you could damage the enamel on your teeth which can lead to sensitivity and even cavities. Another side effect of DIY braces are cuts in your gums that can cause further health issues. Your mouth is filled with bacteria and so are the household objects that kids use for their DIY braces. When these objects cut the gums, that bacteria enters the bloodstream and can have negative effects on your overall health.
Advances in Orthodontics
Modern braces have come a long way in the past ten years, which means patients have a more comfortable and less intrusive experience. Here are a few ways braces are more comfortable for you or your child:
- No more pink goo: digital impressions are a dental advancement that allow dentists to take a 3-D scan of your mouth digitally, eliminating the need for the old-school, goopy impression material.
- Smaller and lighter brackets: today’s brackets are made of plastic, ceramic or lightweight metal, making braces more comfortable and less bulky. They also align teeth more quickly than years ago.
- Flexible wires and color choices: the wires that connect to the bracket are now more flexible and lighter, which means there’s less pain. Kids can also choose braces with colored bands to add some fun to their appointments.
- Nearly invisible brackets: tooth-colored or clear brackets are less noticeable than traditional metal brackets.
- Invisalign: clear aligners are less visible than traditional braces but are recommended only for those with minimal orthodontia needs.
How to Make Braces Affordable
Braces can seem expensive at first, but you don’t need to straighten your teeth by yourself! In fact, trying to straighten teeth on your own will cost you more money in the long-run. Dental Associates clinics offer a complimentary orthodontic consultation, which is a great way for you and your child to discuss dental concerns, learn about the in-depth treatment options, and decide what treatment is right for your family.
Beyond the consultation, dental insurance typically pays for a portion of orthodontic treatment. Our clinics also offer a supplemental insurance that can be used with existing insurance or by itself if you don’t have dental insurance already. We also offer monthly payment options to help spread out the cost and make it more manageable. In addition, you can use funds in your Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts toward the cost of braces. Read more about how to pay for braces.
Request a free consultation with one our orthodontists to learn about the wide variety of braces treatment we offer – and remember: never try to straighten your teeth yourself!