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In 2015, more than one million North Americans had braces, with females comprising 70 percent and a majority were aged 12 to 15 years old. Braces are used to correct orthodontic problems like buck teeth, crossbite, underbite, open bite, misplaced midline, spacing, crowding, and jaw joint disorders.
Braces feature brackets which usually run along a wire. The brackets and wires are then thoroughly pressed against the teeth to support minimal movements and correctly straighten and align the teeth.
However, this orthodontic treatment is heavy in the pocket with its price ranging from $5,000 to $6,000. The high cost of orthodontic treatment has led some individuals, particularly teens, into improvising their braces using readily-available materials like paper clips, earring metal stopper, rubber band, among others. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), people aged 8 to over 60 are attempting to straighten their teeth.
A quick search on video-sharing site Youtube of “DIY braces” showed about 533,000 results. A video of a kid teaching her audience “how to make fake braces,” adding that they look so real and she is not kidding has garnered almost 2.5 million views.
But, this improvision may be costing these teens more money and danger than they have signed up. Orthodontists have raised warning on the possible harm of straightening your teeth on your own that could lead to gum irritation, teeth misalignment, and tooth loss. According to Dr. Jeffrey Kong of El Dorado Hills in his interview with Chicago Tribune, while the beautifying projects (DIY braces) might be cheap at first, they carry a risk that could ultimately cost thousand of dollars.
BC Society of Orthodontists President Todd Moore echoed Dr. Kong’s warning on the cost of DIY treatment in the future. He added that DIY braces could cause irreparable damage to teeth. “A patient wouldn’t attempt to set a broken bone on their own, so they shouldn’t try to fix structural issues either,” he added.
Moving the teeth without the proper training, materials, and examination of the teeth and gums increases the risk of infection and damage to teeth and gums that include permanent loss of teeth.
In a Youtube video which has over 410,000 views as of press time, 24-year-old singer-songwriter Brandon Andre detailed how he closed his teeth gap using elastic hair band worth $5 and placed them on his teeth daily for about six weeks. Andre admitted on experiencing soreness and bleeding. Although he considered himself lucky in his attempt to address his orthodontic problem on his own, Andre said that it might not work for everybody. “Luckily for me, I was successful and had no problems, and it changed how I felt about my image,” he said.
What is quite alarming is that Andre is not the first and only person to use elastic hair bands as “gap band.” In 2012, Youtube user Shalom DeSota created a tutorial on how to bridge the gaps between teeth using an elastic hair band. According to her, the hair band must be worn for at least a few weeks or for as long as the method takes to work. The video has over 1.2 million views.
Although elastic bands are used in dentistry to help improve the fit of the upper and lower teeth and jaws while wearing braces and also in teeth extraction, it is not advisable to use the hair bands in closing teeth gaps. “When you move a tooth, the color of the tooth might change because you are damaging the blood supply,” Dr. Juan Rendon of Jefferson Dental Clinics told Refinery29.
Aside from the color of the tooth, the “gap band” method can cause changes in the shape of the gums and severe gum inflammation and infection due to the pressure that cut off blood supply. “Gap band” can lead to bone loss, root damage and tooth loss because the gums may absorb the rubber band.
If you're in Hawaii and in need of orthodontic treatment such as braces, don't hesitate to visit Hawaii Family Dental. We are known to have the most "Best Dentist" in Hawaii by Honolulu Magazine. We have dental offices in Honolulu, Mililani, Ewa Beach, Aiea, Kaneohe, Kailua Kona, Hilo, Lihue, Kahului and Kihei.