DIY Orthodontics a Troubling Trend

As an Ogden orthodontics provider, our team at Carr Ortho strives to provide affordable orthodontic care for patients of all ages. We know firsthand the dramatic difference orthodontic treatment can make to the aesthetic of any smile.

Not only can orthodontic treatment improve the appearance of your smile, it can also improve your long-term oral health. Crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth can be difficult to properly clean, making it more likely patients develop tooth decay and gum disease as a result.

While orthodontic treatment offers a number of lifelong advantages, you should never consider braces a “do-it-yourself” project. Unfortunately, dentists across the U.S. have seen a growing trend of patients attempting their own home DIY version of orthodontic care, according to the results of a new survey, leading to some pretty disastrous results.

The Dangers of DIY Orthodontics

Examples of patients attempting to straighten their own teeth – often relying on unethical and highly dubious “how-to” guides downloaded online – has increased in recent years, according to an American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) survey.

Patients have started using potentially dangerous objects such as paper clips, string, rubber bands, and fake retainers in an effort to straighten their teeth without visiting the orthodontist.

Unfortunately, this type of improvised orthodontics can lead to permanent damage, warns the AAO.

“What most people don’t understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and rebuilds as teeth are moved into their new positions,” stated AAO president DeWayne McCamish in an organizational press release.

“Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an in-person assessment, including complete diagnostic records,” McCamish explained.

The AAO has pointed to social media as playing a significant role in the recent surge of popularity in this potentially dangerous DIY orthodontics trend. In addition to blogs and how-to guides found online, YouTube alone features hundreds of “tutorial” videos on how to straighten your teeth at home.

In this latest survey, AAO members were asked to describe their own experiences with patients who attempted to straighten their own teeth.

The survey discovered that nearly 13 percent of AAO members said they had patients – ranging in age between age 8 to over 60 – that had attempted to improve the state of their smile by biting on pencils, pushing on their teeth, or by using various household items like paper clips.

In some instances, patients who had attempted to straighten their teeth had inadvertently caused irreversible problems that permanently damaged their oral health.

“It’s really a shame when someone comes in after attempting DIY orthodontic treatment and we determine that the damage they’ve done to their teeth is so extensive that [their] teeth cannot be saved,” stated McCamish.

Don’t Attempt Ogden Orthodontics at Home

The press release issued by the AAO went on to explain that in many cases reported by its members, by the time patients realized something is wrong with their homemade treatments that reversing the problem may not be possible, even with professional help.

For many patients considering DIY orthodontics, cost is the primary reason for trying at home what should only be attempted professionally. Unfortunately, the damage inadvertently done to their oral health can cost significantly more to repair than what they would have paid out-of-pocket for actual braces. Dental implants, crowns, bridges, and dentures can cost significantly more, especially for patients without dental insurance.

Of the orthodontists surveyed by the AAO who reported having patients that attempted DIY treatment, 39 percent said they had to provide treatment to correct the damage that had been caused as a result.

The majority of orthodontists surveyed said they believed their patients would have actually saved time and money if they had gotten professional help to straighten their teeth.

“If it’s a matter of economics, many orthodontists do an initial consultation at no cost and with no obligation,” explained McCamish. “It’s an opportunity to get the expert’s opinion about your problem, options to resolve it and, in so doing, avoid the unintended harmful consequences that could result from DIY treatment.”