Who doesn’t love a DIY project every now and then? Social media has really tapped into this desire in recent years, and you can find tutorials and how-to’s on everything from repurposing old furniture to mixing up homemade beauty products. While this has been good news for our collective creativity, it does have its limits. Like most things, this trend can sometimes be taken a bit too far, and DIY orthodontics is a perfect example of that!

Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we enjoy being resourceful and crafty as much as anyone else. However, we also take oral health seriously, especially that of our patients! Dr. Dorie Frank is proud to provide high-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Commack and the surrounding communities. With a wide variety of affordable treatment options to suit every budget, there’s no need to take a risk by experimenting with DIY methods that aren’t backed by science, experience, or skill. Keep reading below to learn more about why you should keep your smile in safe hands by choosing an experienced orthodontic team like ours!

A DIY orthodontics trend? That’s a thing?

Indeed it is. It might sound bizarre, but if you enter “DIY braces” into any search engine, you’ll get hundreds of results. Videos seem to be especially popular, with some garnering several thousand views. Many of these claim you can straighten your teeth by using everyday items such as rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil. In fact, some of these videos had so many views and shares that the media picked up on it, prompting the American Association of Orthodontists to issue a consumer alert. After a survey of its members showed almost 15% of them had seen patients with problems caused by DIY attempts, they issued a statement that read, in part:

“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. 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.”

Successful orthodontic treatment requires a significant investment in time, effort, and funds to produce lasting results you’re proud to share with the world. Because of this, we do understand why someone would be attracted to the promise of a cheap and easy option for straightening their teeth. However, this is truly a case of “you get what you pay for,” and when it comes to your oral health, cutting corners can be dangerous.

Teen patient smiling


The potential danger of DIY braces

Amongst those experimenting with DIY orthodontics, the most popular method appears to be “gap bands,” which are nothing more than the cheap hair elastics you can get from any shop for a couple of dollars. Advocates believe DIY braces can be achieved by wrapping these elastics around misaligned teeth and wearing them daily or nightly for an extended amount of time. Some claim that in as little as 45 days, gaps will begin to close, and the overall bite will begin to straighten. It goes without saying that there’s no actual, scientific proof backing this claim up!

Interestingly, using elastics in dentistry and orthodontics is actually not a new phenomenon. It was once a common method for extracting teeth. Bands made of rubber or other materials would be wrapped around problem teeth, and patients would wait for them to fall out once enough bone and soft tissue was destroyed. But even this kind of primitive tooth removal was done under the appropriate supervision of a medical practitioner! That’s because there is a potential for disastrous results using gap bands, or any other unsupervised method of orthodontic treatment.

Most people don’t realize how widely the shape of teeth can vary, even within the same mouth. That makes it easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues surrounding them, and once bands become embedded in this tissue, they become difficult to retrieve without help from a dentist or orthodontist. If left untreated, embedded bands will continue to move, eventually hitting the roots and possibly causing nerve damage. As the roots are pulled together, the crowns will also begin to fan out, resulting in the teeth beginning to erupt and loosen. Things can even get to the point where the affected teeth will actually start falling out. That’s not all! There’s a long list of other issues that can result from attempting to straighten the teeth with DIY braces. These include, but aren’t limited to things like:

  • the teeth moving in at wrong angles, resulting in a crooked smile
  • gap bands sinking into the soft tissues of the gums, causing lacerations and pain
  • the teeth being moved too quickly, which can cause long-term issues like a loss of length along the root, gum problems, etc.
  • small bands and makeshift brackets (such as earring backs or tiny beads) can be potential choking hazards
  • the metal in paper clips and other such materials may be toxic if used over an extended period of time
  • bands that are snapped directly on the teeth can crack enamel
  • infected gums, resulting in the need for serious treatment, up to and including tooth extraction
  • No diagnosis, an improper diagnosis, or incorrect treatment can result in an improper bite

Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Frank spent many years learning about moving teeth safely, slowly, and effectively in order to ensure overall oral health is maintained. Attempting DIY braces sets you up for failure, and also increases the risk of needing complex procedures to repair any associated damage. Some of these repairs can be quite extensive (not to mention expensive.)

Shortcuts don’t exist

In general, high-quality orthodontic work doesn’t tend to be quick, easy, or inexpensive. That’s because it takes lots of education, expertise, and the very best in modern orthodontic technology to create the perfect customized smile for YOU. Orthodontics is a complex field, and straightening a smile isn’t as simple as just pushing the teeth together with a few bands. Moving teeth into more desirable positions is actually a complicated biological process that involves dissolving the bone and then rebuilding it over time, and under expert observation. Safe long-term orthodontic success simply can’t be achieved with DIY methods, and any orthodontic treatment should be supervised by a certified orthodontist like Dr. Frank.

Bluebird Orthodontics Team

Trust your teeth to our experts!

Viral videos have their place, but you should never trust YouTube for orthodontic advice! Orthodontic treatment is an investment, but one that will pay for itself in confidence over a lifetime. We’re proud to offer quality care that’s affordable for every budget because we believe everyone deserves a beautiful smile! We have no-interest and low-down payment options for our in-office financing, and participate with most PPO insurances, Medicaid for children, and local unions. If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve a stunning smile in a hassle-free environment, give us a call or click here to schedule a consultation with our talented team!