Orthodontists warn against do-it-yourself braces treatment

DIY braces

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A do-it-yourself method to achieve a perfect smile has orthodontists raising a red flag after videos continue to surface on social media showing the dangerous trend for DIY braces.

Do a search on YouTube and you will find hundreds of videos about the treatment.

A majority of the users said all you need is an elastic rubber band. But doctors said the results can be beyond repair.

“That is very dangerous,” said Dr. Karen Cottingham, Cottingham Orthodontics. “Very dangerous.”

In one video, viewed more than 400,000 times, a girl can be seen on camera using an elastic rubber band to close a front gap.

“When you have braces on it controls the movement of the teeth in all dimensions — rotational, forward, backwards, up and down — they’re all connected together and they’re stabilized,” said Dr. Cottingham.

Dr. Karen Cottingham runs Cottingham Orthodontics on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

“So when you’re moving teeth it’s in a very controlled way at a certain rate that’s healthy for the roots,” Dr. Cottingham said. “If you’re just connecting a rubber band to a few teeth to try to move them, you have no control over the rate if they move too fast it could damage the root. Not only are they going to move together, but they may also move up and down.”

She has been treating patients for 17 years and said that the do it yourself method can cause irreversible damage.

“Certainly you can move teeth with elastic hairbands, but you have no control over that movement and you can actually damage the teeth, the supporting bone structures underneath, and it can even result in the loss of teeth,” said Dr. Cottingham.

The consequences were so alarming that the American Association of Orthodontists issued an alert last year warning about the dangers.

“Most people doing this aren’t professionals at it,” said Cameron Kincaid, an orthodontic patient. “I think I would be too lazy to do it.”

While Kincaid, 16, and his mother, Julie, chose the conventional route for his treatment plan, the price tag was not cheap.

“As parents with crooked teeth, we always had a feeling that he would have to have braces as well,” said Julie Kincaid. “We just kind of knew the expense was going to be coming so we had to saved up for it.”

Dr. Cottingham said most orthodontist will offer a free consultation to find a treatment plan that will work for the individual.

“Go and see a licensed orthodontist in your area, don’t take treatment into your own hands, said Cottingham. “It take years to learn how to do this properly and so you definitely shouldn’t play around with that yourself.”

The American Association of Orthodontists said you can start to see the damage in about four to six weeks of using the rubber bands.

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