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Need Braces? Don't Do-It-Yourself


The trend of do-it-yourself braces is sweeping the country, but many dentists and orthodontists warn patients that taking matters into their own hands could be dangerous and cause long-term damage. A quick Google search unlocks a plethora of DIY tutorials and videos ranging from how to grow your own windowsill herb garden to how to turn your bike into a Pokémon Go machine to how to make your own braces. While people may feel DIY braces are a cheaper alternative to going to the orthodontist to be fitted for braces, it may end of costing more in the long run.

According to a recent survey from the American Association of Orthodontists, 13 percent of orthodontists see patients who have attempted DIY teeth straightening.2 While the process of DIY braces may sound easy and quick, they can ultimately do more harm than good.[1] Reports indicate people are using rubber bands around two front teeth to draw the teeth together, closing the gap. Medical professionals say this may sound simple enough, but because the rubber band could imbed itself into the gum leading to an infection, it’s much more dangerous than people think. Additionally, the rubber band can travel to the root of the tooth causing the tooth to fall out.


Rubbers bands aren’t the only tools people are using to build their own braces. Reports show people are also using fishing line and paper clips to straighten their teeth.[2]  

On average, braces costs between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on insurance. While that may seem like a substantial investment, emergency dental care can quickly become just as costly if not more. When DIY braces and teeth straightening efforts go awry, it almost always requires medical intervention. So theoretically, any money saved will be spent on repairing the damage.  

Dr. David Buck, a neuromuscular dentist in Washington, sees many serious issues with patients self-treating their misaligned teeth.

"Taking matters into your own hands when it comes to braces and straightening teeth is a dangerous game," Buck said. "It’s just not worth the gamble."

In fact, Buck isn’t a staunch supporter of braces in the first place because he feels they can contribute to long-term issues like chronic pain and TMJ disorders.

"I see a common thread with many of my patients who present with migraines, chronic pain or nausea," Buck said. "That commonality is braces."

He believes that braces can cause a host of long-term issues for patients. According to Buck, braces can be more harmful than helpful, especially for patients with unstable jaw joints and chronic pain. But there is another solution.

"It’s much better to use an appliance to stabilize the bite to help that patient stay comfortable and not have a negative outcome," Buck said. "But that’s not being used at all. The conventional model of orthodontics is to put braces on, move teeth and the bite works out when it works out."

The traditional orthodontic approach can be problematic.

"With braces, unintentionally and while you’re moving all of the teeth, you’re collapsing the bite and compressing the joints," Buck said. "This can create unstable and unhealthy muscles."

While Buck isn’t a proponent of braces, he and experts agree on one thing: when it comes to orthodontic care, don’t do it yourself.


Sources:

[1] Tegna. "The disturbing trend of DIY braces is sweeping the nation." WFAA. N.p., 12 May 2017. Web. 17 May 2017.

[1] Caiola, Sammy. "Orthodontists warn against DIY braces, dental care." Chicagotribune.com. N.p., 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 17 May 2017.

 

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