DIY braces – Just don’t go there

In recent years, a number of websites began offering customers tooth straightening treatments that could be carried out at home. ‘Do it your self’ tooth straightening treatments are a relatively new and seemingly popular trend, many You Tube videos can also be viewed of people trying some devices.

Not long after online companies such as “Your Smile Direct” and “Straight teeth direct” began offering mail-order braces, The British and American Orthodontic Societies issued warnings about the practice. The British Orthodontic Society issued a statement to say that it was ‘extremely concerned’ about the trend and that it would “strongly advise the public not to undertake such treatments.” The AAO was quoted in a number of national publications and published a statement on their homepage for American patients which reads “Do it yourself treatments can cause lasting damage. Whether you’re considering clear aligners or traditional braces, only seek treatment under the direct supervision of an AAO Orthodontist.”

So what’s all the fuss about?

When thinking about tooth straightening as a patient, a main focus will usually be on the goal of closing gaps, opening spaces or aligning crooked teeth, but orthodontics is much more than that. Your teeth are the only bones in the body that are on show and they don’t stop at the gum line. A bit like an iceberg, teeth begin much further into the jaw than what is on show. They are the things that enable you to chew and bite food, speak properly and influence your facial shape. When an orthodontist begins preparing you for treatment with braces, we are considering much more than just the look of your teeth. We are thinking about how your teeth meet together, the health of your teeth and overall facial profile.

Like all medical treatments, orthodontics comes with risk. When treatment is overseen by a professional, this risk is minimal because the orthodontist or dentist is with you throughout your treatment and can spot and deal with any potential issues if and when they occur. DIY braces work on the premise that the consumer receives a kit in the post where they take an impression of their own teeth and send away. The brace is then made using this impression. There is never any physical meeting with an orthodontist or dentist, no one to look at the teeth in person. Some companies have reportedly been known to use a PO BOX address meaning that there is another layer of difficulty in contacting them if anything was to go wrong or the results are not what the patient had envisioned.

Why is a consultation important?

Consultations are an important part of treatment with braces firstly, to determine whether particular types of, or indeed braces at all are in the best interest of the patient. We also use this time to assess the health of your mouth and to make sure that teeth and gums are healthy and you are able to proceed with treatment. After this point, we are able to plan treatment and give you an idea of what will be involved and what your final result will look like.

Orthodontists (like me!) are qualified dentists with an extra three years of training in our speciality. We are well equipped to work along side our patients, every step of the way throughout their treatment to make sure that their experience is positive, to manage and tweak treatment as we progress and ultimately, give you the best possible result.  This short “how to” science video explains how braces work.

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