DIY Orthodontics: Don't Try This At HomeIn an attempt to save money, some people have turned to DIY procedures for almost anything. Last year saw an alarming upswing in the amount of teens attempting at-home orthodontic procedures to avoid the costs of proper professional care. YouTube videos such as one posted in 2012 titled “Cheap easy braces!! Without going to the dentist!!!!!” encourage people to close gaps between their teeth with simple tools such as elastic bands.

If it seems too good to be true, that is because it is. While some people have been lucky and closed small gaps in their teeth, many more will suffer permanent damage from trying this method. Elastic bands can slide under the gum to cause infection and cut all attachments to the tooth. Instead of improving your appearance, you could lose the tooth entirely. The gum could be torn, the blood supply to the tooth could be interrupted, or bone damage could be incurred. Severe bone loss can cause the teeth to protrude or fall out. Other possible consequences include jamming the roots of one tooth into another or inadvertently cracking a tooth.

Beyond elastic bands, items such as paper clips, dental floss, and even the backs of earrings have been used to create homemade braces.

An elastic band, or any do-it-yourself technique, is no substitute for being in the care of a trained orthodontic specialist. While braces can be expensive, the consequences of attempting at-home procedures can end up costing a lot more in the long run. An orthodontist has two or three years of training beyond dental school, and performs work that even other dentists are uncomfortable attempting on their own.

Special care must be taken when working with something as delicate as the mouth. You only get one set of teeth. Don’t do irreparable damage to them through the use of DIY techniques to close a gap.