The popular trend of Do-It-Yourself dentistry is popping up in social media and online videos, but the American Dental Association is warning consumers to steer clear of doing at-home dentistry.
The ADA launched a campaign that strongly discourages the practice of D-I-Y orthodontics because of the potential risks to patients. They warn “If teeth are improperly aligned, gum tissue may be impinged or stripped.”
“Ask your dentist if it is okay if I do this,” Dr. Monica Gonzalez, a Miami dentist, told us.
Dr. Gonzalez recommends before doing any at-home dentistry you should consult a medical professional.
Dr. Gonzalez says she recently noticed alarming changes to one of her patients who used an at-home teeth straightening system.
“That’s when I noticed they were not fitting properly,” says Johanna Ley.
Ley bought an at home aligner system she saw advertised on T.V. and visited Dr. Gonzalez months after wearing the system.
She found out the aligners weren’t fitting properly and she was at risk of getting an infection.
“There was a tooth in the back that if she was my patient, if she was my sister, I would have never done any form of aligner system on her, period,” Dr. Gonzalez told us.
Dr. Gonzalez says most of the time aligners move teeth safely, but not everyone is a candidate for this type of teeth straightening.
“There are times it will work, we just have to make sure we don’t have consequences that will be worse in the end,” said Gonzalez.
The ADA encourages consumers to look for the ADA seal of Acceptance on Dentistry products.
We reached out to several companies that sell at-home teeth straightening kits directly to consumers.
One company told us:
“Our team completely agrees with the ADA. Generally, DIY dentistry is a bad idea. Unless of course, it's brushing your teeth. Our direct to consumer model is not DIY.” Another company sent us the following statement, stating their company “is not a ‘do-it-yourself’ service… our service is completely doctor prescribed and doctor monitored. All customers are treated by a dentist or orthodontist, licensed in their state, who creates their customized treatment plan and then monitors the process remotely through the platform with regular check-ins. The customer can connect with their treating doctor at any point through the treatment plan.” Their statement when on to say we “have helped over three hundred thousand people get the smile they love, safely and effectively, while bringing access to the over 60% of the US counties that do not have access to orthodontics for mild to moderate spacing and crowding."
As for Johanna, she wants to share a lesson she says she learned the hard way.
“There was one tooth that was even pushed back so it is worse than when it first started,” she told us. “If I can help someone make an educated decision, then it’s for the better.”
Johanna told us she did call the company she bought the aligners from and they gave her a full refund.