An alarming trend is making its rounds on the internet among young adults and teenagers. Videos featuring teens making their own braces out of household items and encouraging others to do the same are going viral. One of the most popular videos found on YouTube has over 1.2 million views.
Those promoting this idea claim that it’s an easy and cheap way to close gaps between teeth or straighten them without needing to visit a dentist or orthodontist. Many post before and after pictures showing the changes in their teeth from their homemade devices over the course of several weeks.
The methods and materials vary with new videos surfacing regularly with different “so called” techniques. The most basic use small, elastic hair bands to place over their two front teeth and leave them on for weeks in an attempt to push the teeth closer together and close the gap. For anyone considering these practices, when looking at the before and after pictures found online be sure to check out the very graphic photographs of what happens when it goes wrong. Warning: the squeamish may want to skip the pictures and take my word for it that they look horribly painful and disfigured. The slippery elastics can easily slide off the teeth and onto the gums. In many cases, this has caused complete loss of the front teeth, extreme pain and damage to the bone and gums.
Another way these blogs and videos have suggested homemade alternatives for braces is by gluing earring backs onto each tooth and connecting them with dental floss or paper clips. It sounds incredibly dangerous, but we decided to consult a professional to find out just how dangerous. Dr. Kurt Williams, DDS, of Central Kansas Dentistry, says,
“I can’t stress enough how incredibly dangerous and alarming this is. They are risking a lifetime of permanent damage to not just their teeth but also to the gums, bone, and entire mouth. Dental professionals go to school to study how to use safe and efficient tools to precisely move each tooth exactly where it needs to be. The movements must be controlled. Just talk to the poor guy who tried these homemade braces and ended up with the top of his tooth completely punctured through his gums. It’s not as simple as just pushing two teeth closer together.”
With a number of options that exist thanks to advances in dental medicine, there are so many ways to get straighter teeth under the direction of a medical professional. Dentists must undergo vigorous training that usually includes four years of undergraduate school and four years of dental school. Specialists such as orthodontists and oral surgeons typically also undergo post-graduate training as well. Many dentists also attend seminars and conventions multiple times a year to stay up to date on the latest technology, trends and to perfect their skills.
If you suspect your teen may be unhappy with their teeth, or if you are less than satisfied with your own smile, consider all of your options before making a decision. Never try to take things into your own hand when it comes to your health and safety. The costs are exponentially higher when things go wrong, and surgery or complicated procedures are required to fix it. Not to mention having to spend several weeks unhappy with your appearance while things heal. Traditional braces are much more affordable than they were in the past and now clear braces such as Invisalign offer an affordable and subtle way to get the results you desire.