It often feels like there's a YouTube tutorial to DIY just about anything. As moms, we, in particular, generally love a good life hack as a way to save some cash. But one DIY trend is proving to be pretty darn dangerous and could not only affect your child's dental health, but end up costing you a lot more to fix in the long run.
People are actually trying to DIY braces in an effort to cut costs while straightening their teeth. Both teens and adults are engaging in the sketchy practice and the risks far outweigh any potential success.
London-based dentist Dr. Uchenna Okoye is appalled by the trend and hopes to educate families on why this hack for braces is not only outrageous, but harmful.
For starters, Dr. Okoye says rigging your own braces can lead to both inflammation and infection. She notes that when teeth are forced to shift, gums receive a ton of indirect pressure. "As the blood supply is cut off, this changes the shape of the gums, leading to trouble," she explains. A board-certified orthodontist knows exactly how to make sure your gums are receiving just the right amount of pressure as not to cause damage. Your average YouTuber making tutorials does not.
She also points out another negative effect of jiggering your own metalwork -- when you move a tooth, the tooth could change color, again, because of that damaged blood supply. "When a tooth appears darker, it's an indication the nerve endings may have died," says Dr. Okoye. This is entirely worse for the health of your mouth than holding off on proper braces. Once those nerve endings are goners, there's no way to bring them back to life.
Braces that are installed in-office by a professional orthodontist also come with routine check-ups to make sure that the appliance is doing exactly what it's supposed to. When you take matters into your own hands with a DIY hack, not only do you not get that initial expert attention and application, you also don't receive the expertise of professional adjustments. There's choreography involved in tightening those wires and making sure teeth are shifting correctly.
And if it's money that's your biggest concern, Dr. Okoye warns that you really aren't saving anything by trying a DIY technique because repairing any wrongdoing is extremely costly. "DIY braces typically involve ‘gap bands’; tying small, cheap hair elastic bands around their teeth in an effort to close the gap," she says. "Yet, while this is done to save cash, repairing the damage done by these bands could prove even more costly."
The lesson here? Find a trustworthy orthodontist who can work with your insurance and budget to ensure a healthy, happy smile.