Dangers of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Orthodontics:
There are plenty of internet videos and websites that encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth. While it may be tempting to be able to do this in the comfort of your own home and to save money, there are many dangers of DIY orthodontics. Moving teeth without a thorough examination of the overall health of the teeth and gums could end up being more expensive in the end to correct the problems, such as permanent tooth loss, and can cause lifelong dental problems.
Straightening teeth is a medical procedure and requires supervision by an orthodontist. Most orthodontists spent at least 10 years of higher education to correct your smile, and we continually learn to improve our skills. So it should be no surprise that suggestions posted by people with no dental expertise to move teeth can cause serious damage to your teeth and gums. Rubber bands, dental floss, or other objects ordered online can be harmful if used improperly. So whether it is DIY “braces” or clear aligners through the mail, it can do more harm than good. Remember that orthodontic treatment is not a product or device – orthodontic treatment is a professional, medical service. It involves the movement of biological material, which if not done correctly, can lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss and changed bites.
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Questions to ask about DIY Orthodontics:
Before you decide to proceed with a direct-to-consumer product, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) believes there are a number of factors and questions you may want to consider.
- As part of your treatment, are comprehensive diagnostic records like x-rays taken before your treatment?
- If YES,
- Does the treatment and fee include x-rays of your teeth and jaws?
- Does the treatment and fee include a clinical examination of your jaw alignment, teeth, bite, and the relationship of your teeth to the skeletal structures?
- Does the treatment and fee include taking photographs of your face, facial profile, mouth, and teeth?
- Does the treatment and fee include taking digital scans or other impressions of your teeth?
- If NO, are you comfortable starting orthodontic treatment without comprehensive diagnostic records? If you still want comprehensive diagnostic records taken, are you all right going to another dental professional to take them? If yes, what will that cost?
- If YES,
- As part of your treatment fee, do you receive any in-person visits to a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office during your treatment?
- If YES,
- How many?
- What occurs during these in-person visits?
- Is there a licensed dentist or orthodontist in the office to supervise the visits?
- If NO, are you comfortable with orthodontic treatment that does not involve any in-person visits with a dentist or orthodontist?
- If YES,
- If a dentist or orthodontist is involved with your treatment, do you know the name of the dentist or orthodontist who will be specifically involved with your case (for example, is it available on the company’s website or elsewhere)?
- If YES,
- What are his or her education and credentials?
- In what state is he or she licensed?
- In what state does he or she practice?
- What do other patients being treated by him or her have to say?
- NO – are you comfortable not being able to research your dentist’s or orthodontist’s background, credentials, patient reviews, etc. before you begin treatment?
- If YES,
- Is only one treatment type offered (such as invisible aligners or a certain appliance)?
- If YES, how do you know that is the best treatment option for you, given your unique situation and oral condition, compared to other treatment models (such as braces)?
- If NO, how is the decision being made for the best treatment model for you, and who is making that decision?
- How do you know if your teeth and gums are healthy enough for orthodontic treatment?
- Who is making that decision and how is it being determined?
- If the decision maker is a dentist or orthodontist not associated with your treatment, who pays for that assessment?
- What are the possible risks (financial, health, etc.) associated with your orthodontic treatment?
- Who can you speak with at the online orthodontic company about your orthodontic treatment?
- What is his or her education, background, qualifications and/or experience with orthodontics?
- Who is responsible for detecting any issues that may occur during your orthodontic treatment?
- Is it you?
- If it is a doctor not associated with your treatment, who pays for those check-ups?
- If an issue arises during your treatment, how will it be handled and who will be responsible for handling it?
- If a doctor is involved with your orthodontic treatment, how can you contact him or her over the course of your treatment? How can you contact him or her if an emergency arises?
11. If an emergency arises, does the company have a dentist or orthodontist in your area that you can see in-person? If not, who would cover the costs associated with seeing a dentist or orthodontist in your area?
12. If you are injured or have a dispute involving your orthodontic treatment, what rights do you have against the person or company involved with your orthodontic treatment? Are you asked to sign any forms that seek to release them from liability?
Bottom line: If you don’t trust yourself to cut your own hair (albeit it’ll grow back), you shouldn’t attempt to fix your own teeth since they won’t grow back and you can cause permanent damage or lose them.
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