DIY teeth straightening? Experts say stay away

A major dental group is warning about a dangerous practice being promoted online and in social media: do-it-yourself teeth straightening.

Some things are great to do yourself, but trying to straighten your teeth isn't one of them.

Orthodontists say this alarming trend appears to be on the rise. Most likely it's due to the cost and time it takes for professional straightening.

But they say repairing the potential damage you can do on your own can end up costing you much more in the long run.

The American Association of Orthodontists warns straightening teeth should be left to professionals.

It's easy to find DIY how-to videos streaming across the internet. Many use small, conventional rubber bands.

Dr. Monisha Iyer of Segal and Iyer Orthodontics says fortunately none of her patients have tried a DIY method.

Stretchy bands used by orthodontists apply pressure in a controlled way.

But she says rubber bands looped around teeth to close gaps aren't controlled.

They can cause infections, loosen teeth, and worse.

"They can ride up into the gum tissue, and actually strangle the tooth," Iyer said. "It actually takes a dental procedure to lift the gum to get the rubber band out."

Via Skype, David Campbell told Action News he lost two front teeth 30 years ago.

"The rubber bands kept disappearing, and then one morning, I woke up and found the rubber bands embedded in my gums," Campbell said.

Dr. Iyer says rubber bands can also move teeth into the wrong position.

And fixing the problems can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

"It's going to be way more expensive to repair these damages than to do orthodontics the correct way, with a professional," Iyer said.

Campbell says his fix took seven years and tells others don't try this at home.

"I think it's absolutely insane," Campbell said.

This is the second time in just two years that the American Association of Orthodontists has put out a warning.

They're hoping to prevent more people from trying this at-home method.

For more information, or to find an orthodontist, go to My Life, My Smile.

Segal and Iyer Orthodontics

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