A dangerous trend is going on right now with teens using YouTube to find do-it-yourself methods for fixing their own teeth instead of opting to see a professional. The American Association of Orthodontists recently released an alarming study that 13 percent of dentists are seeing patients who have tried to straighten their own teeth, and it is causing irreparable damage.
“It’s really just crazy and it’s become a fairly big thing. I’m thinking that a lot of parents don’t know that their teenagers are experimenting with these dangerous practices,” says Western Dental and Orthodontics Chief Clinical Officer Dr. John Luther.
A common practice for teens wanting to straighten their teeth is that they will use rubber bands to close the gaps (generally in their two front teeth) to save money on going to a professional dentist. However, rubber bands tend to work their way up under the gums, destroying the attachments that hold the teeth in place. Once those ligaments are ruined, the teeth fall out.
“They end up doing damage to their teeth that cannot be fixed,” says Luther. “Under no circumstances should people try to fix their own teeth. If kids can’t afford it, they should wait until they can and have their teeth straightened out by a professional,” he adds.
Western Dental has seen young adults (and adults) experiment on straightening their teeth with rubber bands, wires, and even superglue.
“Super glue is not meant to go in your mouth- it’s acidic and can cause major damage,” says Luther. He reiterates that it’s best to just stay away from DIY solutions that could cause irreversible damage and cost more money and major overall health issues in the long run. The best way to straighten one’s teeth is to go to a professional orthodontist and patients can even get on a payment plan as low as $99 per month for the duration of their treatment.
Luther also stresses that the best way to avoid dental disarray altogether is to start kids early on a preventative tooth decay regiment with regular cleanings. The American Dental Association recommends that kids start going to a dentist as early as one years old or when their first tooth comes in.
“If they do that then they can go a lifetime without decay. (Starting them early) will save a lot of money as opposed to waiting until tooth decay gets worse and leads to an expensive procedure later,” he says. “Parents should keep kids on a good healthy diet and minimize their sugar intake,” Luther adds.
Western Dental provides suggestions on certain things parents can do to help maintain their child’s oral health, such as serving kids fluorinated water instead of milk in their bottles before they go to bed.
“Putting a kid to bed with milk can be bad because their teeth may be bathed in a sugary substance all night that leads to decay,” says Luther.
“Oral health is extremely important to your overall health all throughout your life. If you let it go it can be detrimental and expensive to treat later down the line,” he adds. And his most important last piece of advice- stay away from DIY teeth-straightening procedures, no matter what YouTube tells you.
Western Dental opened its 685 E. Prater Way Suite 103 Sparks location in 2008 with 12 orthodontic chairs and 12 general dental chairs. In April of this year, Western Dental reopened its general practice and will be hosting an open house/ribbon-cutting on Thursday, May 25 at 12 p.m.