Some could argue that the last decade has been an era of do-it-yourself trends. With the growing popularity of social media and video sharing networks, it’s never been faster to get access to the information you need in the blink of an eye. New technology advances that debut every month make it easier and easier to create your own videos and people now spend more time watching videos online than they do watching television.
While this 24-hour access to unlimited information can be a great asset, it also comes with many concerns especially when it comes to teens. One particularly alarming trend that recently made its way around YouTube is homemade braces. In the videos, teens show how to use things laying around the house to attempt to fix gaps in their teeth themselves. They can be heard at points in the video encouraging others to try it themselves and to post before and after photos.
One method the videos show is using small plastic rubber bands that are typically used for hair to stretch over two teeth. The bands are left on the teeth for weeks in order to exert pressure on them and shove them closer together. A further search online leads to graphic photos of teens with teeth pushing out through the top of the gums, requiring extensive work and repair to reverse the damage. Some teens have even had to have their teeth pulled as a result of this dangerous trend.
Another concerning practice involves actually gluing earring backs onto each tooth. Then, using floss or craft string to connect the metal pieces, the teeth are forced into moving closer together with no control or plan. Again, homemade remedy gone wrong stories abound from this method as well. The damage is almost always worse than any small gap or crookedness that caused the attempt in the first place.
Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, Spokane area cosmetic and family dentist says,
“Braces work by carefully guiding the teeth and bones into the correct position and alignment for optimal aesthetics and function. Extensive training and education go into the work an orthodontist performs to correct smiles. If the tooth is moved into the wrong position, it can throw off your entire alignment and bite. If it’s moved too fast, it has the potential to cause a lot of damage, not just to the teeth, but to the gums and bones as well.”
The trend became so problematic that at one point the American Association of Orthodontists put out a press release and series of videos to discourage the public from attempting these dangerous stunts and to seek professional care to avoid causing permanent damage. The main message of their campaign was, “Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervisions by an orthodontist.”
Braces have come a long way over the last 150 years. Traditional metal braces are still a great fit for many situations. Those who are candidates for clear braces such as Invisalign have found great success and comfort with this option as well. If cost is an issue, many dentists have payment plans available. Patients should consider the long-term costs associated with the damage done by homemade solutions before considering something so risky. Getting things done right the first time is far more cost efficient and using a professional can provide peace-of-mind that can’t be found elsewhere.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788