male with jaw ache

The Dangers Of DIY Orthodontics

DIY is having a moment right now, and it seems like everywhere you look there is a “how-to tutorial” or “step-by-step guide” on making something from scratch. Everybody loves a little DIY project, and while it can be a great idea when you want to build a set of shelves or repurpose some old furniture, it does have its limits. Cute decor, concocting homemade lotions and potions, even changing your own oil or painting all your kitchen cabinets – these can be fun, challenging, successful attempts at creativity and resourcefulness.  But, DIY orthodontics? Not so much.

Here at Lincoln Orthodontics, we take smiles seriously and the overall oral health of our community to heart. Dr. Willett and Dr. Harre are experienced orthodontists, and our entire team is dedicated to providing only the highest-quality care, delivered with compassion and respect. We also have a variety of affordable orthodontic options to suit every patient. You are in trusted hands when you visit us, which is more than we can say for anyone falling for the trend of do-it-yourself braces. Keep reading to learn more about why this is such a bad idea, and why methods that are not backed by experience, skill, or science should always be avoided when it comes to your smile!

What are DIY orthodontics?

Type “DIY braces” into any search engine, and you will get pages and pages of results. Some videos have racked up hundreds of thousands of views by promising straighter smiles using everyday household objects like rubber bands, paper clips, bobby pins, and even aluminum foil to move teeth into more desirable positions. These viral videos, and the subsequent mainstream and social media coverage, have gained so much attention online that the American Association of Orthodontists felt compelled to issue a consumer alert. This came about after a survey of its members showed that nearly almost 15% of them are dealing with problems–including tooth loss– caused by patients attempting to replicate these DIY methods. Their alert states, in part:

“The American Association of Orthodontists is urging consumers to beware of Internet videos and websites which encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth. Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervision by an orthodontist… Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss, or other objects ordered on the Internet.”

The most popular method of DIY orthodontics seems to be “gap bands.” These are nothing more than cheap hair elastics that can be bought anywhere for just a few dollars. The idea is that by wrapping these elastics around your misaligned teeth, and wearing them daily or nightly for an unspecified amount of time, the gaps will gradually close and your bite will be straightened. Some of the YouTubers touting these DIY “braces” claim to have seen results in as little as 45 days. When you consider the time, effort, and finances that go into orthodontic treatment, it is understandable that people would be attracted to this kind of cheap and easy option for straightening their smile. However, this is truly a case of getting what you pay for (and what you do not.) These hair elastics can easily slip under the gums and then cannot be retrieved non-surgically until the tooth is stripped of its attachment to the gums and bone… and eventually lost. A missing front tooth when the goal was to straighten is a high price to pay.

Young girl is confused

DIY dangers

It is not a new phenomenon to use elastics in dentistry and orthodontics. Once upon a time, practitioners would extract any problem teeth by placing a rubber band around them and simply waiting for the teeth to fall out after enough bone and soft tissue was destroyed. Even this method was done under appropriate supervision!

There is a potential for truly disastrous results with gap bands and other unsupervised methods for DIY orthodontic treatment. The shape of the teeth can vary widely, even in the same mouth, and this makes it very easy for rubber bands to slide into the soft tissues. Once embedded there, it will become difficult to retrieve on your own, if not impossible. If this goes untreated over time, the band will continue along its path right into the roots, potentially causing nerve damage. Throughout this process, the crowns will fan out as the roots are pulled together, and the teeth will begin to erupt and loosen, sometimes enough to fall out.

There are other serious consequences that could occur from attempting DIY braces, including:

  • a crooked smile due to the teeth being moved at the wrong angle
  • lacerations from bands sinking into the soft tissues
  • pain from the bands slipping below the surface of the teeth
  • long-term issues from moving teeth too quickly: loss of root length, gum problems, etc
  • choking hazards in the form of small bands, or makeshift brackets like earring backs or beads
  • toxicity from the metal in paper clips and other such materials if used long-term
  • bands that are snapped directly on the teeth can crack enamel
  • infected gums, which can sometimes result in the need for serious treatment, up to and including tooth extraction
  • a bite that does not fit together from improper diagnosis or the wrong treatment

It is very important that the teeth are moved slowly and over a safe period of time in order to ensure the health of the entire mouth, and the integrity of the eventual results. If any damage is incurred by attempting ill-advised DIY methods to straighten the teeth, including the repair and replacement of any missing teeth or bone, it can result in complex and expensive dental procedures.

Smile shortcuts do not exist

High quality orthodontic work generally is not quick, easy, or inexpensive. It is an incorrect assumption that orthodontic treatment can be performed to the standards expected when it is not supervised.  Creating the perfect smile requires education, training, and skill in the physics and biology of moving teeth. Shifting the teeth is a complicated biological process involving bone dissolving and rebuilding as they move into their new positions. It is not as simple as encouraging teeth to move closer together to close a gap or push teeth out to straighten a smile. Orthodontic treatment should always be done under the supervision of a certified orthodontist.

Closeup of beautiful girl on dental braces check up

Quality care you can trust with Lincoln Orthodontics

Do not trust your smile to the beauty bloggers and YouTube stars when quality, affordable orthodontics are available from Lincoln Orthodontics! Our team is dedicated to making it as easy as possible for every patient we see to achieve a beautifully-aligned, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.

If you are in Lincoln or the surrounding area, give us a call or click here to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Willett and Dr. Harre. We will provide a thorough evaluation of your orthodontic needs, discuss which treatment options will suit you best, and work with you or your insurance to create a payment plan that makes sense for you. You will always know exactly what to expect before treatment begins.

To get started on the safest path to a straighter, healthier smile, choose Lincoln Orthodontics!

Girl at doctors office

What Is Orthodontics?

Although you’ve most likely heard the term orthodontics before, you may not be familiar with what it actually means. You may not even be sure what an orthodontist really does. Even orthodontic patients can sometimes have trouble understanding the ins and outs of the topic! At Lincoln Orthodontics, we know that the more informed you are about what we can do for you, the more active you will be in your own treatment process. In our experience, patients who participate more fully in their orthodontic journey tend to have the best experiences and outcomes, so it’s important to us that you have a clear understanding of who we are and what we do in order to fully benefit you and your smile! Let’s take a closer look at what orthodontic care entails, and how Drs. Harre and Willett can use it to enhance your oral health.

Orthodontic basics

Underneath the umbrella of general dentistry, orthodontics is a specialty that focuses on correcting teeth and jaws that are improperly positioned. Orthodontists are able to provide this kind of care and treatment after studying the way teeth and jaws develop, and the best ways to correct any issues with that development. Dentists and orthodontists both attend college and dental school, but their paths diverge at this point, with orthodontists going on to an additional few years in an American Dental Association-approved Orthodontic and Dentofacial Orthopedics training program. When someone finally becomes an orthodontist, they have the in-depth knowledge, training, and experience necessary to tackle oral issues requiring orthodontic care.

Although most people will tend to connect orthodontics with a straighter smile, the benefits don’t stop with cosmetic improvements. Orthodontic treatment can correct a wide variety of dental problems, which often leads to better oral health, as well as improved health overall. Crooked teeth are an excellent example. While they can detract from your appearance, the bigger issues is actually how their poor positioning can make it difficult to keep your teeth and gums clean and free from bacteria. This not only increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease, the misalignment can also cause extra stress on the chewing muscles. This may lead to frequent headaches, TMJ discomfort or syndromes, or pain in the neck, shoulders, or back.

There are several common dental issues that may benefit from orthodontics, such as:

  • Overbite — where the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
  • Underbite — causing a “bulldog” appearance, where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
  • Crossbite — in normal bites, the upper teeth will be out over the top of the lower teeth when biting down. With a crossbite, this does not happen. There are a few different types of crossbites, depending on where the upper teeth fall in relation to the lower ones.
  • Open bite — leaving a noticeable space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
  • Misplaced midline — where the center of the upper front teeth doesn’t line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
  • Spacing issues — gaps in between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that don’t “fill up” the mouth.
  • Crowding issues — there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate.

If you’ve struggled with any of these issues, you could be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment with Lincoln Orthodontics, and we invite you to get in touch with our Lincoln office to schedule a free smile examination. Our complimentary examination gives Drs. Harre and Willett the chance to evaluate your orthodontic needs and address any concerns you have about your oral health. Through a variety of diagnostic tools, our doctors will be able to determine if orthodontic treatment could be beneficial to you. These tools may include:

  • diagnostic records, including x-rays, photos, and impressions
  • a full medical and dental health history
  • a clinical exam

At Lincoln Orthodontics, we analyze each patient’s specific needs based on this exam and accompanying records, because we believe that in-depth planning leads to the best results and a higher level of patient satisfaction. We’ll sit down with you and discuss treatment options, financial options, and time frames for treatment, and we encourage you to ask any questions you have at this point. During this initial appointment, our doctors will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan based on your particular issues and goals.

Orthodontic treatment options

Orthodontists use several different types of appliances to help move teeth into more desirable positions and retrain the muscles of the jaw. Most orthodontic appliances work by placing gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth and jaws, and can be either fixed or removable. Because every patient is unique, which orthodontic approach we recommend will depend upon your specific needs and the severity of your problem.

Young girl smiling wearing braces

Fixed appliances

Braces: Traditional metal braces tend to be the most easily recognized orthodontic appliance, and they are the most commonly recommended as well. With braces, bands are fixed around the teeth and brackets are bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires will pass through the bands, and be attached to the brackets. Modern metal braces are much sleeker and more comfortable than they used to be. Patients can choose brightly colored bands or go with a less conspicuous choice like clear or lingual braces to keep their treatment discrete. 

At regularly scheduled appointments with us, we will tighten and adjust the arch wire, and the resulting pressure on the teeth will begin to gradually move them into new and improved positions. On average, this can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your particular case.

Fixed space maintainers: Baby teeth are sometimes lost prematurely, and it’s important to keep the remaining teeth from crowding that empty space out. Lincoln Orthodontics can provide customized space maintainers that fit into the open space until the permanent tooth erupts.

Palatal expander: This device widens the arch of the upper jaw using a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. Gentle outward pressure is applied to the plate by a turning mechanism which gradually widens the palate by separating the joints in the bones of it.

Removable appliances

Aligners: Clear aligner therapy is the most popular alternative to traditional braces for teens and adults, with Invisalign being the clear aligner system most people are familiar with. These aligners move teeth a similar way fixed appliances do, but they are removable and don’t come with the same restrictions for oral hygiene and diet that can accompany traditional wires and brackets. They are virtually invisible and easy to remove, making them very popular with both orthodontists and orthodontic patients for treating common dental issues effectively but discreetly.

Jaw repositioning appliances: Also called splints, these devices can be worn on either the top or lower jaw, and are used to help train the jaw to close in a more favorable position.

Removable retainers: Many people are familiar with these types of retainers, but don’t always realize how important they are to the success of any orthodontic process. After active treatment has been completed, retainers are worn over the teeth to prevent them from shifting back to their previous positions. Retainers must be worn as directed to keep the teeth straight in the long-term.

family with braces

Creating smiles that last a lifetime in Lincoln with Lincoln Orthodontics

At Lincoln Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful smile they love! Drs. Harre and Willett practiced as general dentists before completing their specialty training to be certified orthodontists, giving them well-rounded experience in routine dental care as well as the best oral hygiene practices to compliment orthodontic treatment. Our talented team is dedicated to providing every patient nothing less than the best orthodontic experience, from our top-notch technology to our amazing atmosphere. If you’re in Lincoln or the surrounding area, and want to learn more about all the ways orthodontics could benefit you and your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your free smile exam with Drs. Harre and Willett. We’ve got your very best smile waiting for you!