Orthodontic DIY Or DI-Don't?

by Dr. Jason Gladwell // April - May - June 2018

This is the age of Pinterest and DIY projects. As you scroll through Facebook, you see a dozen do-it-yourself video tutorials of projects ranging from painting flower pots to house building. If you are familiar with projects like these, then you are also probably familiar with Pinterest fails. Let’s be honest … some projects are not meant to be done yourself – electrical jobs, open heart surgery, haircuts, and straightening your teeth, just to name a few.

 That’s right, at-home, DIY orthodontic treatments are all the rage. By now, you have probably seen or heard the commercials for different companies offering a “quick and easy” at-home solution for crooked or crowded teeth, in which you essentially become your own orthodontist. Giving yourself orthodontic treatment at home may seem easier, cheaper, and quicker than visiting an orthodontic office; but in reality, it could lead to longer, more expensive, and even potentially dangerous outcomes. Here are a few things to think about before attempting at-home braces or invisible aligners. 
 
There are many considerations an orthodontist looks for and factors in when developing a treatment plan for a patient. It’s not just the visible part of the teeth that has to move; there is also a complex and sensitive root system that provides stability and life to the tooth. The unseen part is just as important, and this is what allows for tooth movement. If teeth are moved without considering the whole tooth, disastrous results could follow.  
 
Along with root health and positions, orthodontists also look at bone health. If they try to move teeth without solid and healthy supporting bone, teeth can be damaged or lost as well. Bone levels and support must be determined to be healthy and stable before any orthodontic tooth movements should be undertaken. Despite what may be said on a commercial or an online post, those de-
terminations should only be made in person by a qualified and trained professional. 

With the DIY approach to orthodontics, people are relying on a lab technician – who has never seen those patients in person – to make decisions about final positions of teeth that could negatively affect their smiles and even give the opposite end result of the desired outcome. All these movements should be thought through by an experienced orthodontist. Facial profiles, tooth angulations, severity of crowding or spacing, and many other factors need to be considered when determining the best course of treatment. 
 
Orthodontists treat a wide variety of cases – some ranging in length from only a few months to complex cases spanning years. In either case, the diagnosis and treatment planning is equally crucial. Even with short cases, it is just as important for the orthodontist to see the patient in person to gather information and confirm essential details to make his or her smile perfect.
 
In an ever-increasing aesthetic world, your smile is one of the first and most impactful impressions you give off. It is a lasting one, so make sure it is healthy and beautiful. 

Dr. Jason Gladwell

Owner of Gladwell Orthodontics, Board Certified Specialist in orthodontics, and the state's only Super Elite provider for Invisalign. Gladwell Orthodontics is located at 2824 Rogers Rd., Suite 200 in Wake Forest.