DIY Ortho: Is it Safe?

It seems like the do-it-yourself fad has infiltrated every industry and dentistry is no different. From Facebook to YouTube, videos for at-home, no-dentist-required orthodontics are all over the place. But DIY-ing it can lead to more severe and more costly problems down the line.

Proper orthodontic treatment requires a trained professional. And that expertise costs money. You wouldn’t DIY your eye surgery or hip replacement, so why take such a risk with your mouth? You know, the thing you speak with, eat with, and rely on EVERYDAY to keep you alive? Taking orthodontic treatment into your own hands, without the professional guidance, is a recipe for disaster.

The dangers of at-home orthodontics are so high that the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedists felt compelled to write about one particular case.

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t try to straighten your own teeth:

Risk of Infection– Many online personalities have put tutorials online using 3D printers or other household items. But these materials are seldom sterile and can cause severe infections if you cut yourself while using them or already have an open sore in your mouth. If left untreated, oral infections can spread to the rest of your body causing sepsis, an infection that may require hospitalization to treat.

More Pain– Without the watchful eyes of your orthodontic team, you could experience more pain and discomfort. Your team is trained in the most efficient way to move teeth with as little pain as possible.

Relapse– While relapse may also happen under the care of the most qualified dental team, specially-designed retainers are made to keep post-orthodontic shifting to a minimum. Without this knowledge, your teeth will likely move back to their original position.

More Damage Than Good– Without proper guidance and monthly check-ins, you may do more damage resulting in tooth loss. If your bite is off, you could also develop a speech impediment or have trouble chewing food.

In the long run, do-it-yourself braces may be more expensive than seeing an orthodontist for proper treatment. Between the risk of infection, the cost to make the at-home braces, and the expense of having to correct the damage done, you’re better off paying a trained professional right from the start. The damage might not be noticeable at first, but the long-term risks are great and potentially life-threatening. The health of your teeth is so much more than just the appearance of your smile. Without proper monitoring or periodic x-rays, you have no way of telling what’s going on below the gum line.

If you or child need braces, check with a trained professional. Many insurance plans provide orthodontic coverage, and many offices accept payment plans for the remaining cost. Your dental team is here to work with you and make sure you get the care you need that fits within your budget.

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