In the ever-changing world of pop culture, trends come and go. But one trend gaining momentum is anything but “lit” or “on fleek.” People are trying to fix orthodontic problems on their own with “DIY Braces” instead of consulting a professional, and more orthodontists are seeing patients who have caused damage to their teeth by trying do-it-yourself methods found on YouTube and other social media outlets, according to a recent survey conducted among members of the American Association of Orthodontists.
The AAO reports that nearly 13 percent of orthodontists who participated in the survey have seen patients who have tried DIY teeth straightening. The results can be disastrous.
One of the most popular – and harmful – DIY methods shown on YouTube is putting elastic bands around teeth to close spaces between the teeth. Please do not try this at home!
It’s difficult to say which is worse – the fact that orthodontists are seeing an uptick in patients who have harmed their teeth with these DIY methods, or that some of these DIY tutorial videos have been viewed more than a million times. If half the people watching these videos actually try the dangerous techniques outlined in them, orthodontists could see even more of these cases where DIY braces methods went wrong.
One video uploaded in 2012 shows a 14-year-old girl wrapping hair elastics around her front teeth to close a space. It has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. Other videos suggest using dental floss or fishing line.
It is important to understand that trying this method can cause irreparable damage. Orthodontists have reported seeing bone loss, gum loss and root resorption.
Root resorption is the shortening of tooth roots. Although it happens in almost every case of orthodontic tooth movement performed under the watchful eye of an orthodontist, it typically is insignificant and is largely unnoticeable on X-rays. However, some patients react more severely. This is one concern orthodontists have for the DIY set – how is a person to know if they will react severely? If tooth roots become too short, the teeth can become mobile or even fall out.
One reason for the damage is that materials wrapped around teeth and tied snuggly can creep up the teeth and into the gum line. There are cases where people left a band around their teeth so long that the band wound up beneath the gums and squeezed off the blood supply to the teeth, killing them.
My advice to people who are unhappy with the appearance of their smile is to contact an orthodontist to schedule a consultation. Undergo a thorough exam to determine the best course of action as recommended by professionals who do this daily. That appointment also will include financing information. You will be surprised to learn how affordable orthodontic treatment can be.
As for the DIY videos, stick to YouTube for learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube or make a pencil case, and leave your tooth alignment needs to the professionals.