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A perfect smile is worth more than money can buy, yet some people still try to cut costs on their orthodontic treatment by choosing to use DIY methods that are often unsafe or ineffective. While you may see tons of advertisements online and are passed around on social media, the truth is that DIY braces often fall sort of the goals that you want to set for your oral health.
- 1 Before you Start
- 2 It’s a Bad Start
- 3 In-Office Orthodontic Care with Dr. Gluck
Before you Start
Before you hop on the latest trend, make sure that you and your family understand this information about why it’s simply not worth learning how to make your own braces at home.You should first know that it’s completely impossible to make professional grade orthodontic appliances at home. For instance, you could never learn how to make your own braces if you want traditional metal types because these require precision when they are placed on your teeth.
For this reason, the majority of mail order braces companies use clear plastic aligner trays that they make using impressions that you make of your teeth. While you may be fine with aligner trays that are made to work like Invisalign, you need to know that you will not receive proper monitoring throughout your treatment that is necessary to make sure that it works.
It’s a Bad Start
One of the biggest problems with DIY Invisalign is that the treatment begins with you doing the bulk of the work yourself. Typically, one of these companies will send you a kit that tells you to make an impression of your teeth. While it may seem simple enough to put putty into a tray and bite down, the truth is that this only creates a small snapshot of how your teeth fit together at that moment. When you have issues with your bite, you may bite down differently each time. Alternatively, you may have trouble completely biting into the putty. Even an accidental bump or debris particle can throw off the impressions and lead you to receive an incorrect fit for your aligner trays.
Once you take your impressions, the mail order company then uses these to manufacture your trays before sending them your way. To seem professional, the company may ask for x-rays from your current oral health care provider, but this still does not give enough information for them to create a treatment plan. A full in-person mouth examination is critical for making sure that you get the right type of treatment to fit your needs.
What are the Risks with Mail Order Braces?
Trying to do your own braces comes with many risks. Unfortunately, you may not notice that you are causing damage to your teeth and gums until it is too late. With mail order orthodontics, you may receive plastic aligner trays that are not perfectly fitted to your mouth.
When this happens, you could experience irritation on your gums and cheeks due to the friction. Alternatively, a poorly made impression could cause the trays to not push your teeth into the right positions. You also need regular orthodontic exams to make sure that the treatment is working. With DIY braces, you could keep wearing your trays for months without seeing any benefits.
A professional orthodontist monitors your teeth and bite for changes throughout your treatment so that adjustments to your tray can be made as needed. Remember that your mouth is constantly changing, and the position of your teeth can be affected by things such as an injury, illness or newly emerging wisdom tooth. All of these things are caught by in-person orthodontic visits, and mail order companies simply cannot get an accurate view of your mouth when they are many miles away.
Do They Even Work?
The truth is that mail order orthodontics can actually work in some instances. However, they are not as effective as an in-office treatment plan, and you place your health at risk by forgoing professional care. You should also be aware that these types of braces are not for everyone.
For example, you may require a different type of appliances such as traditional braces or a palatal expander if you have severe tooth crowding. These mail order companies also fail to provide proper follow-up treatment. Often, retainers are critical for making sure that teeth stay in place once you have the ideal smile.
Understand How Straightening Teeth Works
When you just look at your teeth in the mirror, you see imperfections. Such as two teeth overlapping or a huge gap between several teeth. While this perception of your smile is important, you must also know that an expert looks at your teeth in a different way. When we look at your smile, we see how the different mechanisms of your mouth all work together to create the way your teeth fit.
For instance, did you know that that little flappy piece of tissue on your top gums that is called a labial frenum can sometimes be the wrong size and pull your front teeth apart? Without treating that, you will find that any gaps that you close with Invisalign will just keep coming back. Additionally, your bite, or the way that your jaws close together, can also affect the positions of your teeth. If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, then this can place tension on the ligaments that hold your teeth in place and cause them to move.
Straightening your teeth requires us to look at multiple features of your mouth that you might not even think about. We can also guarantee you that any company that advertises at home braces is not taking a full view of your mouth before sending you the devices. Unless they provide an in-person consultation.
Think About the Need for Additional Treatments
We’ve already discussed how some people need a frenectomy to correct issues that cause gaps between the front teeth. And there are more treatments that may be needed to support what the clear aligners are doing. While it is rare, some people need to have a tooth extracted. This is most common when you have an extra tooth or a baby tooth that never fell out and is causing problems in your mouth.
There are also certain situations where you may not be a candidate for treatments such as Invisalign initially. This often occurs if you have a severe issue with your bite. Or extreme gaps between your teeth that need traditional braces to correct at first. Some people are also not a candidate for clear aligner trays simply because they do not have the type of personality to remember to keep the aligners in their mouth. This is common with teenagers. Who are still developing the maturity that they need to comply with a treatment plan that relies upon them to be responsible.
So I Need an Orthodontist?
There are several things that your orthodontist can do to help you get straighter teeth instead of relying on DIY Invisalign. First, your orthodontist will perform a thorough oral exam. This exam may include them checking your bite visually as you open and close your mouth. They may also take measurements of your jawbone and the spaces between your teeth. During your in-person consultation, you can also expect your orthodontist to ask questions about your lifestyle.
For instance, you may not be the ideal candidate for Invisalign if you tend to forget things easily since the trays must be removed and put back into your mouth at various points during the day. In this case, you may be a better candidate for traditional braces, but a mail order company would never tell you that.
Rubber Bands and Other Attempts
The internet abounds with stories about people who try to make braces by using rubber bands, hair elastics, paper clips, and other items that were never intended to be used as orthodontic appliances. Using these unorthodox methods can damage the roots of your teeth and cause your teeth to fall out. Braces gently and slowly realign the teeth, which is essential for a permanent and safe solution. Rubber bands can slip on the teeth or they can become lodged in the gums and require surgery to extract.
Other outré items used for DIY braces include earring backs, dental floss, and Super Glue. All of these items can cause irreparable and permanent damage to your teeth and can be hazardous to your overall health as well. Super Glue was never marketed for internal use. Watch here for a video of the wrong thing to do.
In-Office Orthodontic Care with Dr. Gluck
When you seek care at a traditional orthodontics office, you receive that personalized touch that makes a big difference in your final results. While a millimeter may not seem like much, it makes a big difference in how your smile looks, and your braces may need these tiny adjustments as you progress through your treatment plan. You will also find that the costs between the two types of braces are comparable, but you get so much more from a regular orthodontist. When you know that someone is able to visually check your teeth for signs of progress, you can trust that it is easier to stay on track with your treatment plan.
Besides that, it’s just easier to have professional handle things such as making impressions rather than trying to stress out as you attempt to do it yourself. Are you so eager to get straighter teeth that you’ve explored mail order orthodontics? If so, we understand and have seen the results from low-quality DIY attempts. Give Dr. Gluck a call today so he can show you how we can work together to give you the best results for an amazing smile.
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2002 Richard Jones Road
Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 615 269 5903
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Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.