You know what they say about things that look too good to be true…they probably are. And that’s definitely the case with the latest craze that claims people can successfully straighten their own teeth.
Whether it’s using rubber bands or home straightening “kits” bought on the internet, orthodontic work is never a DIY affair.
In fact, the ramifications of attempting to straighten or shift your teeth offer far from an ideal result, with tooth loss, bone degeneration and pain amongst the likely results.
If you’re at all tempted by the internet claims about straightening your own teeth, here are the cold hard facts about the dangers of DIY braces.
The usual suspects
From rubber bands to dental floss, superglue and paperclips, it seems people will try all manner of tricks to straighten their smile, with many an online blogger sharing their tips on how it can be done.
What they aren’t revealing is the sometimes-irreparable damage that can be caused which can cost far more to treat than professional orthodontic work would have cost at the outset.
In addition, a worrying new trend has popped up where some companies offer mail order teeth aligners, further encouraging people to take teeth straightening into their own hands.
These treatments are undertaken without personally seeing the patient, without understanding their history and without proper supervision.
It’s natural to want a winning smile you can be proud of, with a recent survey by Orthodontics Australia finding 55 per cent of Australians are self-conscious about their teeth, and 62 per cent of them are keen to do something about it.
But the internet is not an orthodontic professional, your stationary drawer is not a dental technician’s toolkit, and your loungeroom is not a sterilised medical facility.
And if you choose to attempt to treat them as such, a whole host of things can go very, very wrong.
The cold hard facts
Many of the DIY teeth straightening methods we’ve mentioned involve using everyday household items to forcefully shift your teeth, and that creates a whole host of potential problems including:
Infection – Household items are not sterilised nor are they medical grade, which means they can and do cause infections.
An infection may not sound serious, but not only can it result in the loss of your teeth, it can actually spread into your bloodstream and facial tissues, becoming life-threatening or causing severe bone loss.
Root destruction – Shifting your teeth forcefully and quickly sees them loosen at the roots. At best they’ll probably move back into position, at worst you might actually damage these vital foundations and lose your tooth.
In addition, tools like rubber bands can cut circulation to the gums and teeth, which also results in root destruction and teeth loss.
Pain – There is nothing gentle about using household items as a makeshift way to move your teeth, and the biggest likelihood is it will cause you significant pain in the immediate area.
This pain can then become a whole lot worse if your gums, roots and jawbone are affected, or if an infection takes hold.
Tooth damage – Teeth are tough, but they’re not impervious to damage and having a rubber band wrapped around them or a paperclip glued to them can damage the enamel of the teeth or cause wear.
Enamel damage promotes decay, can be obvious and costs very real money to fix.
Speech alteration – Your teeth are major tools in speech, affecting how you form letters and sounds. Shifting them without proper supervision can see them fail to align correctly. This can make forming sounds correctly a challenge.
Improper bite and jaw alignment – Not only do your teeth need to meet correctly for speech, they are also more prone to wear, tear and damage if they fail to interact at the correct angle. Over a lifetime this may see some teeth chip and crack or wear down, which leaves them more prone to decay.
This is a very important fact to consider if you’re pondering purchasing a DIY straightening kit. As these companies do not offer a trained professional who physically looks inside your mouth or takes a digital image, they have no idea about how your teeth and jaw align.
The result may be a lifetime of dental problems due to improper jaw alignment.
Facial shape impact – Just consider the important role your jaw plays in the look of your face. Should you damage the structure of the jaw through tooth loss, gum infection or bone degeneration, it can have a very real and long-term impact on how you look.
Major cost – Repairing damaged teeth, affected bone and misaligned teeth that have been subjected to improper treatment can be very, very costly – far more costly than going to see a trained orthodontist in the first place.
Replacing lost teeth with implants is complex and invasive. Surgery to address infections and bone loss is a major medical procedure, and make no mistake, in some cases your teeth, jaw and look will be impacted for life.
The right course of action
As Orthodontics Australia explains: “Moving teeth is a health care procedure and it requires the personal supervision of a specialist orthodontist to ensure treatment is carried out safely and effectively”.
Proper treatment sees an individual patient assessed, their teeth digitally scanned, and a custom-made, supervised treatment created specifically for them.
This treatment involves straightening the teeth using gentle, appropriate force over time. Meanwhile, the bite and jaw alignment are also taken into account.
Once teeth have been straightened, the bite and jaw are gently guided into the optimum position, so teeth meet at the right time in the right place.
Only a fully trained, specialist orthodontist is qualified to undertake this type of work. In addition to five years of studying general dentistry and two years clinical experience working as a dentist, an orthodontist undertakes a further three years study to specialise in this field.
About Norwest Orthodontics
Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.
We also have a suite of treatments available that include discrete, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.