When you're looking for cheap, quick DIY projects, the internet provides a bounty of ideas. Swap your household cleaner for vinegar. Use coconut oil in place of hair conditioner for shiny locks. But when it comes to your oral health, a shortcut to straighten teeth via DIY methods could cause permanent damage.
Recently, a rash of DIY orthodontia methods using teeth gap bands have cropped up online. Before you turn to a $5 solution to close a tooth gap or straighten teeth, you need to understand the consequences. After all, the only person qualified to straighten your teeth safely is an orthodontist – not an online beauty blogger.
What Are Teeth Gap Bands?
So-called teeth gap bands are no more than typical small, clear hair elastics. The idea is that by wrapping these clear elastics around your misaligned teeth, you'll close gaps and straighten your bite. A small package of hair elastics won't cost more than $10, and some of the bloggers who have tried the trick swear that it only took about 45 days to see results. When compared to the cost and time investment involved in getting braces, it's obvious why some are willing to try this DIY method instead of visiting an orthodontist.
Gap Band Dangers
Before you try your hand at orthodontia, there are a few things that you should know. First, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has issued a consumer alert warning against gap bands as a method for straightening teeth. "The American Association of Orthodontists is urging consumers to beware of Internet videos and websites which encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth," the AAO alert states. "Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervision by an orthodontist. Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss, or other objects ordered on the Internet." The warning adds that attempting to alter the placement of your teeth without an examination by a qualified orthodontist could result in lifelong damage and even the loss of your teeth.
Ending up with a crooked smile isn't your only concern when trying DIY methods, although moving teeth at the wrong angle is definitely a problem. The small bands could also cut off blood supply and cause nerve damage to the teeth and gums, resulting in tooth loss. The bands can also sink into your soft tissue and cause pain and laceration. Moving teeth too quickly results in pain and long-term issues, which is why orthodontists typically move teeth slowly and over a period of months to ensure the health of the mouth and preserve the integrity of your results.
Why an Orthodontist?
While it may seem as though an orthodontist is an unnecessary expense, attempting DIY braces could cost you much more in the long run. Orthodontists graduate dental school and then commit to another two to three years of specialized training before licensure. They're fully trained in the methods of braces, invisible aligners, and other oral appliances to help you get the perfect smile. While it's true that orthodontics can be costly, replacing lost teeth and repairing damage from teeth gap bands can be much more expensive.
It's OK to pick up makeup tips online, but don't believe the hype surrounding DIY braces and dental care. The only people qualified to care for your teeth and align your smile are those who have been educated and licensed to do so. Skip the at-home methods and make sure you find someone who can safely correct your smile. Remember, when you have a grin full of professionally made braces, you need to maintain great oral hygiene habits. Brushing and flossing may be tricky, so to clean those hard-to-reach places, swish with a mouthwash like Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield. It significantly reduces plaque, helps prevent gingivitis, and freshens breath.