At our clinic in McAllen Texas, Dr. Taylor has seen cases where patients tried using rubber bands to close a gap in their teeth. His conclusion is that, “Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics Are Not Worth the Risk”. In this day and age, one can find do-it-yourself instructions for nearly everything. The most obvious appeal is of course the money that can be saved by tackling a project on your own. Typically, there is nothing wrong with going this route. However, ideas such as using rubber bands to close gap in teeth can have far worse repercussions.
Performing orthodontic procedures at home however could be disastrous. So disastrous in fact that the American Association of Orthodontists has placed an alert on the homepage of their website in order to inform the public of the inherent risks of attempting to move teeth without the direct supervision of an orthodontist.
In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists specifically states:
Moving teeth without a thorough examination of the overall health of the teeth and gums could result in the permanent loss of teeth, which may result in expensive and lifelong dental problems.
The use of elastics, commonly referred to as “gap bands,” to close gaps between the front teeth has sometimes been used by teens in place of professional orthodontics. Several videos can be found on the internet describing the process, and supposed effectiveness, of using elastics. But these videos do not mention the inherent dangers in simply sticking some rubber bands in your mouth. While it is sometimes possible to close one gap, this method just opens up other gaps and can also create a host of other problems.
Because teeth are not perfectly square, and taper upwards, there is a very real risk of the elastic bands sliding up the teeth and receding underneath the gum. To move the teeth one would need to leave the bands in the mouth permanently and while sleeping it is possible for the bands to move up the tooth and slide under the gum. Once this has happened it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the band. If left untreated, gum disease could occur as well as loss of the bone that holds the teeth in place and ultimately, loss of these teeth. Also when you close one gap this way you open other gaps and this can then misalign your teeth – your teeth no longer fit smoothly together and this can create jaw pain, wearing down of some teeth, and other orthodontic problems.
By having a professional examination conducted, patients are able to gain an in-depth understanding of their dental health. When an individual foregoes this examination they may be unaware of potential underlying problems such as periodontal disease, cavities, root abnormalities or several other issues that would need to be addressed before performing any sort of teeth straightening procedures. Irreparable damage, including permanent tooth loss, could occur if a patient attempts to move teeth in the presence of undiagnosed oral health problems. Also an orthodontist carefully plans the movement of the teeth so that when complete, your teeth still fit together smoothly and do not create uneven pressure on your jaw.
Orthodontists attend 3 additional years of training after dental school because orthodontic treatment is a complex medical procedure and there is no single approach for everyone. Attempting to move or straighten teeth at home using rubber bands instead of orthodontic methods can be tempting for someone looking to save money but it simply isn’t worth the risk. Not only could you cause serious damage, the procedures to correct any damage will likely cost much more in the long run.
You only have one set of permanent teeth in your lifetime. Do yourself, your mouth, and your wallet a favor and only have orthodontic procedures performed by a qualified professional.