The Dangers Of DIY Orthodontics

Crafting and DIY have really experienced a bit of a revival in the last few years. Between multiple TV shows, Pinterest, and an emphasis on “reduce and reuse,” we’re seeing everyday objects being used for everything from holiday decor and wedding favors to….braces? It’s sad, but true–DIY orthodontics is the perfect example of a good trend gone bad! Here at Sohn Orthodontics, we love the idea of being resourceful and thrifty, but we draw the line at your smile. When it comes to something as important as your smile, you should really leave it to the experts like Dr. Sohn.

Our team takes oral health seriously, and we’re proud to offer top-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in the Bridgeville PA area. Thanks to a wide variety of affordable treatment options, there’s never any need for you to experiment with dangerous DIY methods that aren’t backed by science or skill.  

Keep reading below to learn more about what we mean by “DIY orthodontics” and why you should only trust your smile to an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Sohn!

What are DIY braces?

We know it sounds strange, but typing “DIY braces” into any search engine will yield you thousands of results, many of which are videos. Popular users claim that viewers can straighten their teeth from home using nothing more than common household objects like rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil.

These “tutorials” had so many views at one point that the American Association of Orthodontists felt compelled to issue a consumer alert warning to the public. This warning stated in part that moving teeth is a medical procedure and should only be performed with the personal supervision of a trained orthodontist.

Rubber bands, sometimes called gap bands, are the most popular method of DIY orthodontics. These are basically clear hair elastics you can buy in any drugstore. The idea is that you wrap them around your misaligned teeth for an undetermined amount of time, during which gaps will close and your bite will be straightened.

While we’re sympathetic to the attraction to such a cheap and “easy option,” DIY braces  come with many potential risks. These can include pain, laceration, and infections. We’ve even seen cases where the bands can even become embedded in the soft tissue of your gums! The dental procedures to repair damage incurred with DIY braces can end up being costly and complex.

The Dangers Of DIY Orthodontics

What about mail-in aligners?

DIY braces aren’t the only at-home orthodontic option out there. Direct-to-consumer aligner services have become increasingly popular over the last year or two, too! These companies supply patients with an in-home impression kit for clear aligners that is cheaper than being treated in an orthodontist’s office.

After an impression has been taken and mailed back in, they are purportedly reviewed by an on-site dentist or technician who will determine if the patient is a candidate for the company’s aligners. If the patient is approved for the process, the aligners will be made and delivered to the patient with instructions on how to wear them.

While this is undoubtedly better than using office supplies to straighten your teeth, mail-in aligners come with their own set of issues. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Sohn uses in-person exams, digital photos, and high-quality x-rays to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient that’s based on their specific needs. This information is also used to create the ideal bite for a patient. This is a difficult but important part of treatment since misalignment can cause pain, discomfort, and uneven wear and tear.

There are many problems that can pop up before or during treatment that at-home kits won’t catch. Cavities, gum disease, and other related issues can’t be seen from just a few photos or impressions. This is less than ideal, since the teeth and gums should always be in good shape before attempting to move the teeth.

Mail-in aligner services also leave patients without any meaningful supervision throughout the treatment process. That means aligners can be poorly fitted, or they may move the teeth too quickly or more slowly than expected. As noted above, cavities or gum disease may develop. If there’s no orthodontist overseeing treatment, these problems may go untreated, causing damage to your overall oral health as well as your bite. In some cases, we have seen patients who ended up with more problems than they had before they began!

Dr. Sohn will look at each patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and goals before recommending any particular treatment method. Without access to a patient for an examination, x-rays, or photos, these at-home aligner businesses may not be able to accurately determine if someone is a suitable candidate for their product.

Trust your smile to the experts at Sohn Orthodontics

We understand that DIY braces and direct-to-consumer aligner companies can seem like a cheap and easy way to straighten your smile. Unfortunately, they could prove more costly than you expect over time! Moving teeth slowly over a longer period of time is the only way to ensure the health of your entire mouth and provide superior, long-lasting results.

Here at Sohn Orthodontics, your initial consultation with us will include an orthodontic examination along with an explanation of the options available to you. A smile that looks good and feels great does require an investment of your time and funds, and it’s our mission to provide you with high-quality options that fit every budget. When you have an orthodontist like Dr. Sohn looking out for your smile, there’s no need for DIY methods! If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you safely achieve a beautiful smile, get in touch with us today!