Teeth straightening used to be synonymous with orthodontists. However, now it’s possible to straighten your teeth at home – with varying levels of success.
Orthodontic treatment is an investment, so it’s not surprising that there’s a growing demand for cheaper, more convenient treatment options.
DIY braces and mail-order aligners are more affordable than treatment with a specialist orthodontist, but there could be a higher price to pay in the long term.
Specialist orthodontists have years of training and experience, so it’s worrying to see websites and videos showing you how to straighten your teeth yourself.
Unsurprisingly, these aren’t by experts with any understanding of the biology of tooth movement. As one Vlogger says, “I am not a professional but I did it anyway.”
Elastic bands, glue guns and plyers are among some of the tools recommended. If this isn’t enough to put you off, the results and risks should be.
At best DIY braces won’t work. At worst, they can cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums and even tooth loss. For every DIY guide, there is a DIY horror story.
We strongly advise anyone to steer clear of DIY dentistry.
Several companies now provide orthodontic treatment by post. Based on some impressions or scans of your teeth, they’ll decide if you’re suitable for treatment.
If you meet their criteria, you’ll receive a series of clear, removable aligners in the post, along with some instructions. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
Mail-order aligners are a step up from DIY braces, but there are still risks:
- There’s no orthodontic examination or X-rays to check the health of your teeth and gums before you start treatment
- If you don’t take accurate impressions of your teeth (which does take some practice), your aligners won’t fit perfectly, which could affect your outcome
- You’ll miss out on the specialist expertise and techniques orthodontists use to achieve precise results, for example, IPR and attachments
- Your aligners will straighten your teeth, but they won’t improve the way they bite together – they could make your bite worse
- The quality of your aligners won’t compare with Invisalign (pictured below), the leading clear aligner system offered by orthodontic clinics
- Without regular check-ups, you won’t know if your treatment is on track
- If you have any concerns, you won’t be able to speak to someone face-to-face
- Towards the end of your treatment, no one will review your results, to make sure they’re the best they can be
- Your treatment might include removable retainers, but you won’t receive fixed retainers or supervised aftercare to help you maintain your new smile
When you compare the cost of mail-order aligners with treatment from a specialist orthodontist, make sure you consider everything they include.
Invisalign treatment at Sensu starts from £60 a month and includes specialist-led treatment, home teeth whitening, teeth contouring, fixed and removable retainers.
You can find out more about safe teeth straightening at safebrace.org, which is a joint initiative between the British Orthodontic Society and the Oral Health Foundation.