Orthodontic work is expensive and often not covered by medical insurance, so it’s understandable that some people might entertain the idea of do-it-yourself braces using tiny rubber bands.
Don’t even think about it.
A report that recently aired on WTHI TV in Indianapolis featured orthodontists cautioning against such a DIY project in response to videos circulating on social media inviting people to improve their smiles all by themselves.
One video, viewed more than 400,000 times, featured a girl using an elastic rubber band to close a gap in her front teeth. But doctors said the results of such adventures can cause not only irreparable damage, but true harm.
“That is very dangerous,” said Dr. Karen Cottingham, an orthodontist.
When braces are applied by a licensed, experienced orthodontist, she explained, “it controls the movement of the teeth in all dimensions – rotational, forward, backwards, up and down – they’re all connected together and they’re stabilized.
“So when you’re moving teeth, it’s in a very controlled way at a certain rate that’s healthy for the roots. If you’re just connecting a rubber band to a few teeth to try to move them, you have no control over the rate if they move too fast it could damage the root. Not only are they going to move together, but they may also move up and down.”
People who move their own teeth using elastic hairbands or similar strictures not only aren’t controlling the movement properly and damaging their teeth, they’re also corroding the bone structure that supports them underneath. They’re at risk for losing their teeth.
Apparently, there were so many reports of such dental disaster that the American Association of Orthodontists issued an alert last year describing the dangers of being your own orthodontist, and warning people away from such amateur repair.
The association said the damage from using rubber bands to wrangle your own teeth can be apparent within about four to six weeks.
Yes, the cost of orthodontia can be high, but permanent damage and tooth loss ultimately can cost more, not only in terms of dollars, but general health. If you or a loved one needs this treatment, see a couple of licensed orthodontists; many offer a free consultation to define a treatment plan for each individual.