Eyewitness News saw video after video on YouTube that demonstrated do-it-yourself braces. Some of the most popular components were rubber bands and the backs of earrings.
“All these little pieces and parts can come loose. You can swallow, you can aspirate these things, besides causing damage to the gum and bone, so it's just a bad idea,” said orthodontist Dr. David McIntosh who is also Tyndall's orthodontist.
In some of the videos, teens used super glue and paper clips in hopes of getting straight teeth.
McIntosh said he and his staff use a high-tech scanner that maps people’s teeth and instantly makes a 3D image that shows teeth alignment and your bite. The orthodontist then designs a plan to move the teeth to make the perfect smile.
McIntosh told Eyewitness News about a case where one of his patients tried to fix her teeth before reaching out to a professional.
"As her mother explained to me, she decided to try to close the gap between her four front teeth by herself. The rubber band was there, and we took it off, and it hadn't caused any damage yet,” McIntosh said.
Experts said in worse cases, the rubber band can migrate under the gum and cause bone and gum loss.
Invisalign is a popular alternative to traditional braces that uses a series of plastic retainers to straighten teeth.
There are also do-it-yourself versions of Invisalign and mail-order aligners, but McIntosh cautions using those.
"It's another example where it's just kind of uncontrolled. So you're following this. No one's really monitoring how the teeth are moving,” McIntosh said.
*It should be noted that reporter Ken Tyndall who did this story uses Invisalign.
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