There has been a rise in popularity of “Do It Yourself” (DIY) procedures in recent years, quite a scary trend, especially when attempting to self-diagnose or self-treat your health. There has been an increase in people attempting to fix their smiles with rubber bands, paper clips, dental floss and other various materials including “braces by mail” plastic mold kits. While these items may seem harmless, it is easy for them to slide up a tooth, harming the ligament that holds the tooth in place—possibly leading to tooth loss. The reported age range of people attempting to straighten their own teeth is from 8 years old to over age 60. DIY braces in any form and at any age is just not worth the risk and is best left to the experts.

What’s the danger?

Performing DIY or at-home orthodontics can lead to or cause:

  • Infection
  • Loss of teeth
  • Damage to the gums

The potential damage that can incur from DIY procedures is often more costly to repair than the investment in specialist orthodontic care. The cost of dealing with replacing a lost tooth can easily exceed $20,000 over a lifetime.

How to talk to your kids about this trend?

  • See an orthodontist by age 7. Kids learn about oral health/braces at a young age before they find trends like DIY teeth straightening videos. Seeing an orthodontist early helps impressionable young kids avoid harmful health issues such as DIY.
  • Educate your kids on healthy oral habits such as brushing and flossing.
  • Most orthodontists offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this visit and ask your orthodontist about why seeing a specialist is important.
  • Explain to your kids how just as we wouldn’t attempt DIY surgery, we shouldn’t attempt DIY teeth straightening.
  • Encourage self-confidence in kids via positive self-talk.

What are my orthodontic options?

  • If it’s a matter of economics, many orthodontists do an initial consultation at no cost and with no obligation.
  • Most orthodontists work with patients to fit treatment into their budgets. It’s common for TAO members to work out interest-free payment plans.
  • Today’s next-to invisible treatment choices include clear aligners, ceramic (tooth colored) braces, and lingual (behind the teeth) braces. Small, sleek, more traditional braces can be an option, too.