DIY braces – the risks of YouTube tutorials and online ‘selfie’ treatments


Experts are warning against the alarming new trend of DIY braces that includes YouTube clips on how to straighten teeth using paperclips and online services offering cheap treatments – without the need to see a dentist.

The ‘How to make your own braces’ video is now a ‘thing’, with teenagers sharing their filmed tutorials online.

Using everyday household objects, such as super glue and hairbands, to move their teeth, they’ve clocked up a huge following.

And now, with a new marketing drive by a website promoting unsupervised teeth straightening solutions, the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has issued fresh warnings about the high risk of these practices.

A number of websites are offering us the chance to get cheaper, speedier orthodontic treatment in the luxury of our own home. And, how are we assessed? By sending in a ‘selfie’, of course.

One website boasts that: ‘You just need to submit six pictures in good light showing your teeth at varying angles for evaluation.’

The website – that says it is ‘designed to cut out the middle man, without jeopardising quality’ – bases its assessment of your suitability for braces using a photo sent on a smartphone photo and claims it delivers a ‘premium cosmetic aligners service that is available exclusively via their URL’ – with results delivered in as little as 16 weeks.

But the BOS – which is the charity with a remit to provide information to patients and is committed to advancing the science and practice of orthodontics – cautions us on considering any option that means we carry out our own orthodontic treatment at home.

Richard George, Director of External Relations, said: ‘When it comes to the health of your teeth, cutting corners is a really bad idea. Buying aligners online to straighten your teeth without a clinical examination and then embarking on unsupervised treatment is risky and could cause permanent damage.’

And there is evidence that dentists are getting patients booking in to have teeth-shaping treatment before undergoing their home orthodontics.

Teeth shaping can be part of orthodontic treatment and is often used to create space for tooth alignment.

Its technical name is interproximal reduction (IPR) and involves removing a little teeth enamel in order to aid orthodontic treatment.

This week, the BOS reveals that, due to the advent of these websites offering DIY orthodontic aligner treatments, dentists are now being asked to provide IPR for people who they have neither diagnosed nor previously examined.

They warn that the only route to straighter teeth involves a full face-to-face clinical examination by a trained clinician.

Both choices and risks need to be discussed and the BOS says that any self-supervised teeth straightening may mean a compromised result – or worse, tooth loss and on-going serious dental problems that could prove costly to remedy.

The Society says that an examination by an orthodontic specialist or dentist with experience in orthodontics should take place before any treatment plan is in place, with the IPR carried out by the same clinician.

In a nutshell, Richard George advises: ‘Anyone considering orthodontic treatment should avoid DIY braces.’
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