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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Orthodontists warn of uptick in DIY teeth straightening-- May 9, '17

During this time when the ability to "Do-It-Yourself" is all the rage, a new survey shows people think that even applies to straightening their teeth.  But the experts say this is becoming a dangerous trend and doing so could have severe consequences.

Results from a poll by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) show 13% of members have had patients who actually tried to straighten their own teeth.  One unnamed orthodontist described a DIY treatment of one of her patients:  "She tried to close the gap between her lower incisors by wrapping string around the two teeth.  I was horrified to see the string deep in the gum and the mobility of the two teeth." 

Orthodontists are seeing a growing trend in the number of patients trying to straighten their own teeth.  The poll shows 13% of orthodontists report their patients, ranging in age from 8 to 60, have tried their own methods for straightening their teeth -- like pushing on their teeth, chewing pencils or using other household items like string, paper clips and even small plastic hair bands.  The AAO warns this type of orthodontics could cause irreparable harm and even tooth loss.

According to AAO President DeWayne McCamish, "What people don't understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and rebuilds when the teeth are moved into their new positions."  He adds that is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist and after a thorough in-person assessment.

McCamish says social media is playing a significant role in this dangerous trend, "There are literally hundreds of videos on YouTube alone, with 'tutorials' on how to straighten your own teeth." He says those cheap alternatives to braces could end up costing patients a lot more if they have to replace teeth lost to home methods of teeth straightening.  Orthodontists believe people who jerry-rig their own treatments could save time and money if they just seek the advise of the professionals.

If it's a matter of economics, most orthodontists offer an initial consultation at no cost with no obligation.  That's a way to get a professional's opinion about your problem, options to resolve it and avoid the unintended, harmful effects of do-it-yourself orthodontics.

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