Is DIY Teeth Straightening a Real Thing?


You may have seen advertisements for products to straighten your teeth at home. The idea is to cut out the middleman, AKA, the dentist, to save money and time for the customer. While this may sound alluring, there are real dangers to DIY teeth straightening. Yes, some companies sell DIY teeth straightening plans, but you need to know the risks of trying to straighten your own smile.

How Does DIY Teeth Straightening Work?

Often, the companies that sell at-home teeth-straightening products do not require any visits to a dentist. Instead, they send instructions to make a dental impression of the customer’s teeth. The customer then returns the mold to the company. Using this impression, made by the customer, aligners are formed to straighten the teeth. These aligners look similar to top brands like Invisalign and work similarly.

Dangers of DIY Teeth Straightening

The underlying oral-health conditions that may have led to malocclusion – crooked teeth – may go undetected without the care of a dental professional. Teeth rarely get out of alignment all on their own. Gum disease, tooth decay, bone deformities, and tumors are among some of the severe conditions that may exist. Attempts to cosmetically straighten teeth without a comprehensive plan to identify and address all the issues could result in more extensive problems down the road.

Imagine repairing a broken arm with a DIY kit – that sounds ridiculous, but in essence, it is similar to trying to straighten your own teeth. Many factors impact your teeth and oral health beyond their position. When considering teeth straightening options for a patient, a dentist, or orthodontist carefully evaluates their teeth and bone structure’s health. They review x-rays to determine if there are any structural concerns. Not all patients are good candidates for clear aligners – some patients require more extensive orthodontic treatment or may need dental care to repair teeth before beginning teeth straightening.

The DIY teeth straightening program does not involve a dental exam, X-rays, or any interaction between the customer and a dentist. Customers can send in their teeth impressions and buy a teeth-straightening program, even if they are not ideal candidates for this type of treatment. These kits will shift the teeth and impact the bones in the jaw.  If done incorrectly there could be damage to the teeth and jaw. The treatment should always be supervised by a dentist to ensure the teeth are shifting safely and correctly.

And Finally…

Some of these companies have faced litigation, and customers have filed complaints regarding dental problems from their DIY teeth straightening. There is even a class-action lawsuit against one company that provides DIY clear aligners. Some of the complaints filed by customers include:

  • Cracked or damaged teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic jaw and tooth pain
  • Gum tissue damage

The American Dental Association has “strongly discouraged” the use of DIY teeth straightening programs due to the serious dangers of these products. They have also issued complaints in dozens of states that violate specific laws about practicing dentistry.

While saving money is always enticing, you should never short-change your health or your smile. If you want to explore teeth straightening treatments like Invisalign, contact us at Nishan Halim DMD to schedule a consultation at our Washington, DC office on Capitol Hill. 

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