SAN ANTONIO – Orthodontists are warning about what they call a dangerous trend: do-it-yourself teeth straightening.
A survey by the American Association of Orthodontists showed an increase in the number of people trying to move their teeth and close tooth gaps by using rubber hair bands, floss, fishing line and paper clips.
"It's just bad news. It's just dangerous," said Dr. Robert Tito Norris, of Stone Oak Orthodontics.
Renewing its consumer alert, the AAO says to beware internet videos that promote cheap do-it-yourself teeth straightening.
A quick search turns up plenty of tutorials. One even has 1.2 million views over the past few years.
Norris cautions that while orthodontic rubber bands exert precise amounts of pressure on teeth, drug store hair bands are much less controlled.
"The teeth, with that constant pressure, become extruded or come out of the socket," he said. "They can strangle the teeth."
And, the tiny hair bands can slide up under the gums and become embedded or cause infection.
One reason some people try DIY is cost. Braces can cost thousands of dollars.
Norris says there are lower cost alternatives to full braces available.
"You wouldn't want DIY heart surgery. You wouldn't want DIY orthopedics," Norris said. "And you certainly don't want DIY dentistry orthodontics."