Just a couple of years ago, I was asked to comment on a press release and give an interview with the Vancouver Sun about kids who were posting to YouTube about using elastic bands and paperclips to move their teeth. The orthodontic associations were anxious to get the word out that this is potentially a very bad thing for kids to be watching and trying for themselves. My interview warned parents and the public that this can cause significant problems – teeth can be lost, gums infected and there can be a loss of bone in the jaws. These problems can be serious and difficult or impossible to correct later. (By the way, you can also look up DIY braces fails and see some pretty awful things☹).
A few months later, I had a patient came to see me have their retaining wire removed so that they could seek treatment with clear aligners from a company on the internet. This company makes clear aligners, but the patients are not seen and monitored through their orthodontic treatment by a dentist or an orthodontist. This is not dissimilar to the YouTube activity.
In Canada, we take for granted our high-quality standard of living. We have professionals that are educated at excellent institutions. We have laws and regulations that control the quality of the work that they perform. We expect and receive wonderful care.
“…moving someone’s teeth around is complicated. It is important to examine the patient to determine how the teeth, gums and jaws fit together, how they are positioned in the face and how the entire system functions for the individual.”
Professional schools exist because there are things that are a complicated and significant time and effort is needed to fully train people in these areas. In orthodontics, students have approximately ten years of university study required to complete and graduate. In order to be licensed to practice, there are national competency exams that must be passed. All of this is necessary because moving someone’s teeth around is complicated. It is important to examine the patient to determine how the teeth, gums and jaws fit together, how they are positioned in the face and how the entire system functions for the individual. Then you want someone that can design a force system with appliances (braces or clear aligners, retainers etc.) that can actually create the desired movement without any undesirable side effects. You also need someone with an understanding of growth and/or aging as it related to the teeth, gums and jaws. Orthodontists are special people who use all of this information to design custom treatment to create the ideal outcomes for esthetics and health that we are accustomed to.
Your own personal health and well being are not things that you should be experimenting with. The downsides can range from not getting the little fix you were looking for to damaging your body irreversibly. We are so lucky to have people with the expertise to accomplish amazing things in every major city. It is our responsibility to look after ourselves and seek out proper care. This is especially important in all aspects of health care including dentistry and orthodontics.
Your dental professionals are a group ready and waiting to help you achieve your best health. Dentistry has a strong focus on prevention and esthetics has always been a significant part of creating a good result. Remember your teeth are not like your hair or nails where if you don’t like what you have done it will grow out in a few weeks or months. You only get one set of teeth. Your smile is priceless.
Dr. Colleen Adams, Westside Orthodontics