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DIY Orthodontics

From at-home workouts to recipes for facial scrubs to hair removal, online beauty influencers are encouraging us to take more of a DIY approach than ever before. However, there are some procedures which are best left strictly to the professionals.

In recent years, orthodontics has become accessible as an at-home treatment with some teeth-straightening options now available through online stores. But Health Partners dentist Dr Tim Burton says there are several things that can go wrong when using these treatments without a professional diagnosis and guidance.

Moving teeth is complicated

“Undertaking any tooth moving procedure requires a properly formulated plan to ensure the best chance of success,” Dr Burton says. “First and foremost, before beginning any treatment your dentist or orthodontist will want to ensure that you have a healthy mouth. This means no tooth decay or gum disease. They will also take x-rays so they can get the full picture of what is going on, including what is happening with the roots of your teeth. After they have given you a full diagnosis they can then work on a treatment plan which takes into consideration your lips, facial profile and your bite.”

What can go wrong?

People who purchase at-home orthodontic treatments generally start the process by taking an impression of their own teeth using dental putty and trays that are posted to them, and then sending these back to the company involved. These impressions are then used to manufacture a series of clear aligners which are designed to be worn in sequence – each with a slight alteration that will move the teeth towards the end goal.

“There can be several problems with this approach,” Dr Burton says. “First of all, the impressions that you do yourself may not be accurate. It is difficult to manipulate the trays into your own mouth and set the putty correctly. The next concern is that there is no ongoing consultation as you move through the different aligners. If you are seeing a dentist or orthodontist in person they can modify your treatment plan as it progresses to ensure any problem areas are corrected. Also, even if the aligners work as expected to straighten the teeth, they can cause changes to the bite that could lead to tooth wear or jaw pain.”

Dr Burton says that even if these companies have an orthodontist overseeing the treatment, they may not have all the information needed to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and plan.

“The impressions do not show the lip line or muscle profile, or the length of the teeth roots,” Dr Burton says. “All of these should be assessed when deciding what type of orthodontic treatment is appropriate.”

But I want a perfect smile

If you wish to alter the look of your teeth or smile, then your first step should always be to speak to your dentist.

“Your general dentist and orthodontist will be able to discuss with you what the treatment options are and ensure that you have a healthy mouth before beginning any work,” Dr Burton says. “Undertaking any tooth moving procedures requires a properly formulated plan. Unfortunately, we do see people who have used these types of products without the correct professional supervision run into some problems. At-home orthodontic treatments may be less expensive to purchase at the beginning, but they could up causing you more problems, and costing you more money overall.”

To discuss your teeth straightening needs with a professional, find your nearest Health Partners Dental provider here.

Meet Dr Tim Burton

Adelaide dentists - Tim Burton

Tim specialises in General Dentistry. Some of his work includes restorative dental, periodontal, endodontic, crowns and bridges. Starting in 2007, he continues to be a valuable team member.

Professional background
Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), University of Adelaide, 2003

A little bit more about Tim
He is a passionate Port Adelaide supporter.

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The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided.

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