FYI: DIY Teeth Straighteners Often Don’t Rectify
FYI: DIY Teeth Straighteners Often Don’t Rectify
“A lot of people underestimate how complicated changing teeth is because it ultimately affects your bite, which affects your jaw and your jaw joint and the muscles of your face,” said Dr Howard Holmes, president of the Australian Society for Orthodontists.
– Sydney Morning Herald
At Home Teeth Straightening Kits Causing Problems
In 2020, the use of these clear plastic aligners was worth some $97 million. This has been a huge explosion in popularity in Australia, as customers choose these over the more traditional wire braces. The DIY aligners have been promoted on social media platforms by celebrities like TV star Rob Mills. The aligners by Smile D*rect Club, EZ*smile, By*te, and Won*dersmile remove the dentist from the equation by sending out impression kits for customers to bite into themselves. These teeth moulds are then used to create the DIY home teeth straighteners. The customer in search of straight teeth can save thousands of dollars, as the kits sell at around $2K to $3K, which compares to possibly paying up to $10K for getting the job well done by a reputable orthodontist.
Do It Yourself Dentistry Not Safe
Some of the things, however, that can go wrong are going wrong, according to dentists who are cleaning up the mess left by these DIY dentistry kits. These include pushing teeth out of the dental bone in order to straighten them, losing the vitality of teeth damaged in the process, and gum recession. It does strike me as something crossing over into the territory of specialist medical care. What will be next? DIY heart transplant kits? Brain surgery at home for the steady handed? I can understand that orthodontists would not be too happy about this for a variety of reasons.
“A survey conducted by the Australian Society for Orthodontists in October 2020 found 35 per cent of orthodontists who responded had treated a patient in the past 12 months following failed use of at-home aligners. It’s now calling on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to follow the lead of the UK’s dental regulator in warning the public that there was “no effective substitute for a physical, clinical examination” when assessing someone for braces or aligners.”
– Rachael Dexter, 2021, SMH
“A whopping two million Australians put off going to the dentist or orthodontist in the past year because of the cost. If you’re one of them, then going down the DIY path for things such as teeth whitening or teeth straightening may well appeal.”
I suppose the crux of the situation is the question when is bargain not really a bargain? When it promises to fix a complex problem and makes things worse or is completely ineffective. This is the outcome for many of those who have invested in these DIY teeth straighteners. I see dentists as technicians or mechanics for our bite and smile. The thing is, when things don’t immediately work out for dentists via one process they have the knowledge and access to other things to try. This is why they earn the big bucks and spend all those years getting qualified. I mean if straightening teeth was that easy we would have been at it for years already. History would be littered with teeth straightening devices.
Expense vs Risk
Yes, going to the dentist can be expensive but it has to be put into context. This stuff positively impacts upon your life for many years and the cost has to be measured on that basis. What orthodontists and dentists achieve for us are not throwaway experiences. Indeed, they are long lasting effects for the better when it comes to the functional bite of our jaws. Plus, they can improve the cosmetic appearance of our smile via things like braces and teeth whitening. It is this latter aspect where a lot of the problems lie and dentists make plenty of money from cosmetic dentistry. Too many vulnerable people are messing with themselves in the hope that they will look better. Younger people are usually more susceptible to this.
“Dentist Dr Victoria Sampson says users may underestimate the force aligners put on teeth. If decay or gum disease is missed in a physical check-up, people risk losing some of their teeth. She says she has treated someone who lost their front tooth after using the aligners because they moved her teeth too quickly, skewing her bite. The roots of the patient’s teeth were too short to withstand the pressure from aligners, which would have been picked up in an X-ray.”
The DIY teeth straightening kits and process are not picking up potential problems because there is no in-person detailed dental examination taking place. Orthodontists and dentists will tell you that teeth are a complex business and there are plenty of undiagnosed issues out there just waiting to happen.
DIY Teeth Straighteners Emerged Out Of The Online Pandemic Boom
“The Society’s latest research shows that over half of orthodontists (65%) say the ‘Zoom boom’ is a factor for seeking treatment, with more than three in four (76%) orthodontists reporting an increase in adult patients seeking orthodontic treatment within the past three years.”
The Coronavirus global pandemic created a surge in online use because people were locked down at home. Consumers started trying things that they normally would not consider as online fodder. DIY teeth straightening may have appealed as a great way to constructively use the time in lockdowns. Dentists and orthodontists are now seeing the results of misapplication and unsuitability in the case of a number of home users of these products.
It seems we all want to look beautiful and having perfectly straight teeth is a big part of this for some. However, there are real dangers for a percentage of people who use these products and have underlying dental problems. Dentists want clear warnings on the advertising and the packaging to make customers aware of the possible pitfalls. The reality is that doing things on the cheap, more often than not, costs you more in the long run, especially if you have to visit the dentist numerous times to fix the damage done.
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