There are lots of “do it yourself” projects you can complete successfully with just a little time and effort. However, “do it yourself” braces is not one of them. Despite that, there are a rising number of videos on YouTube instructing on how to fix your teeth at home, and even more online sites selling braces kits for those who want straighter teeth but want to avoid the orthodontist.
“There’s a common misconception in the general public that braces are simple — you push on the tooth and it moves where you want it,” says Jeffery Iverson, D.D.S., M.S., an assistant professor at the University of Utah School of Dentistry. “Orthodontics is very complex. Human physiology, occlusion, biomechanics, craniofacial growth and development, tooth size, shape and morphology, as well as the patient’s overall lifelong dental health, must be taken into consideration.”
The most basic method of DIY braces is placing a rubber band around teeth in an attempt to move them together. While this may cause teeth to move, it can also cause a number of complications like tooth fracture, gum damage, root damage, tooth loss, or serious medical complications.
“Blood circulates just below the surface of the oral mucosa, and the placement of toxic, non-sterile items in the oral cavity can injure it and is a good recipe for infection,” says Iverson. “These infections can spread through the blood or through facial spaces, and these infections could become life threatening.”
He has seen the damage a simple rubber band can do firsthand. “I saw a 12-year old patient during my residency that tried to close some spaces in her lower mandibular incisors using a rubber band,” Iverson says. “X-ray evaluation revealed severe bone loss on the distal roots of the mandibular lateral incisors.”
The child ended up needing surgery to remove the rubber band, which had done lasting damage to her teeth.
Another option gaining popularity involves companies that will send consumers kits to take impressions of their teeth, and then will send them clear alignment devices. They claim the process is overseen by a qualified orthodontist and that the kits should only be used by those with a “mild” alignment problem. However, Iverson has his doubts.
“If overseen means a doctor looks at some pictures and impressions over the internet and the patient is never seen in the beginning, throughout treatment nor has the final result evaluated at completion, I could see multiple problems with that type of treatment,” he says.
Iverson also says treating even a mild alignment problem is more complex than simply taking teeth impressions and fitting a device. “In an orthodontic office every patient receives a set of orthodontic records, which include orthodontic x-rays,” he says. “I don’t see where these companies are providing an x-ray evaluation on their patients, so many potential problems could possibly be missed.”
There are also “black market” braces options available, which can cause even greater damage. The materials being used may not be sterile or may even be toxic. There is a chance they could come loose or be swallowed. Then there is the issue of removing them. “Removal of DIY braces can fracture the teeth or extract the teeth depending on the method of cementation,” says Iverson.
The bottom line? If you want straighter teeth, see an orthodontist — face to face.
“It takes a trained orthodontist to position the teeth in their correct positions so detrimental damage doesn’t occur,” says Iverson.
Kellogg Dental and the Kellogg Family Dental Foundation will hold their sixth annual Free Dental Day on Saturday at Kellogg Dental, 1250 Byron Road in Howell.
Dr. Thomas Kellogg and his staff are partnering with Dentistry From the Heart, a nationwide mission hosted by 200 dental offices in 49 states, to provide free dental care to those who cannot afford it.
Six area dentists — Kellogg, Dr. Brian Bishop, Dr. Carolyn Kim, Dr Shana Francois, Dr Jeff Dunwell and oral surgeon Dr. Aaron Ruskin, together with staff and friends — will provide free dental treatment to those in need. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The team will work diligently to see as many patients as possible in that time frame, performing one service for each patient seen. Services available are cleaning, filling or extraction.
The event requires over 60 volunteers and takes about nine months to plan.
“We had many people who were treated last year who are volunteering to work (this) year’s event,” said Sarah Tottingham, volunteer.
Last year’s donation was over $25,000 of free dentistry. The total since the service began is over $150,000 and over 800 patients served. Kellogg believes the event’s response proves that there is a greater need for this type of event.
Over 100 million people do not have dental insurance in the United States. For most, the expense of dental insurance is not an option.
“There are so many people who cannot afford to fix their teeth. Dental pain can be disabling; it is horrible to have to go without treatment. The timing is right for this kind of event. Anyone can help. It feels really good to see these people smile again,” said Kellogg.
After providing dentistry overseas in countries like, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Guatemala for years, Kellogg’s staff came up with the idea to benefit the local community, partnering with Dentistry from the Heart.
“We’ve seen a lot of people who have lost their jobs and benefits and we wanted to help,” said Beth Roland, event coordinator.
Along with free dental care there will be music, raffles, face painting, prizes and free food.
Kellogg and the Kellogg Dental team offered special thanks to those who donated goods and services to help make the event possible and the enormous generosity of all the volunteers, who give of themselves, serving the community.
“I challenge other dentists to do this kind of thing. It’s great for everybody. It is truly the highlight of our year in our office,” said dental hygienist, Becky Minca.
For questions about hosting a similar event or about Saturday’s event, Kellogg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-546-3330, or visit the Kellogg Dental website at smilemaker.org.
— The Livingston Daily