Harmful Effects of DIY Braces


Do-It-Yourself (DIY) braces and at-home teeth straightening kits have become a trend popping up all over the internet, promising dentist-quality results at a fraction of the price. While I understand how attractive these may look and sound, unfortunately, things that sound too good to be true often are. As an orthodontist I have seen some pretty damaging effects of DIY braces and wanted to share a few facts about this dangerous trend.

What Are DIY Braces

We consider DIY braces anything that you do yourself to facilitate the movement of teeth. There are videos posted online where teens and young adults use items like rubber bands, dental floss, fishing lines, earring backs, paper clips, and more to move their teeth. These items are often found embedded or covered by gum tissue. Mail order aligners are becoming very popular but many of their disadvantages are not being addressed. Here we will discuss some reasons why seeing an orthodontic professional is best.

Harmful Effects of DIY Braces

Orthodontic treatment is about more than just straightening teeth. It involves moving of teeth and bone to restore proper form and function. It must be managed properly to yield the best results. Attempting to close a gap or straighten your teeth yourself significantly increases the risk of serious damage to your teeth and gums, resulting in tooth loss, changes in speech and possible infection. It is also worth considering that repairing the damage from DIY procedures could be far more expensive than the investment in an orthodontic specialist.

  • Tooth Loss

Using tight rubber bands or other materials to adjust your smile quickly is detrimental to tooth health. Rather than create the straight smile you crave, makeshift braces could destroy your teeth at their roots.

Unrestricted blood flow is necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Makeshift braces and ill fitting DIY clear aligners can impinge on the tissues and cause unwanted movement of teeth. That subsequent movement can result in conditions such as the one seen below and cause a host of other issues that will require an immediate visit to your dentist.

DIY braces 1.jpg
  • Infection

Since DIY braces involve nonsterile, nonmedical-grade supplies, it’s easy to develop an infection. Rubber bands, paper clips, and similar items can cut into the gums and injure the tissue, causing open sores that aren’t able to heal while you continue to wear the makeshift braces. A gum infection may not sound serious, but it can cause damage to the surrounding tissues, severe bone loss, and spread through your circulatory system.

  • Speech Problems

The position of teeth also has an effect on the way we speak and pronounce words. DIY Braces often do not account for movement outside of the desired areas. This movement must be controlled properly to prevent conditions evidenced in the pic below. As a result, your upper and lower jaw may not fit together as they once did, ultimately affecting your phonetic ability.

DIY braces 2.jpg
  • Relapse

DIY braces offer no guarantees, so even if you try to make your own and successfully manage to move your teeth, the results most likely won’t last. Professional braces are designed to move teeth in slight increments over a period of time. There’s a reason for this: Quick adjustments have a greater chance of shifting back.

Since DIY braces tout quick results in less time, your teeth are more likely to move back to their original positions after discontinued use.

  • Pay More Than You Saved

Most people turn to DIY methods to save money, but when it comes to important dental procedures, you could end up paying much more to repair the damages. Surgery to address infections, correcting bone loss or extracting non restorable teeth can be traumatizing and expensive. When you consider the costs associated with correcting damages from DIY braces and at-home straightening kits, you’re better off saving the money for professional braces and having the treatment done right by a professional.

Please do not fall victim to these DIY trends and fast braces schemes. Do your research and ensure you are choosing the right professional for your smile and overall health.