Orthodontists warn against DIY braces


Want to keep your teeth in good shape? Don't try and create your own braces, Kiwi orthodontists are urging.

Video tutorials from overseas have been emerging online, claiming to offer a cheap solution to fix teeth gaps by wrapping elastic around them in an attempt to pull them closer together.

The New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO) says it hasn't heard of any cases here, but warns against it as a precaution because it can lead to root damage and ultimately tooth loss.

"You can't control where the elastic works, and if the elastic's right at the end of the tooth, then you'll get a different tipping than if it was further up," says president Alan Isaac.

"The problem is, if it is further up and you put elastic around the tooth and it disappears under the gum, it can in fact do serious damage to the ligament – that's the little fibres that hold the tooth in."

The movement of teeth is reversible, but not if you damage the attachment of a tooth itself, "that's much more serious", he says.

Insurers have also discouraged it, highlighting claims could be impacted.

"We don't reimburse for cheap DIY (do it yourself) treatments bought over the internet under our health insurance policies," says a Southern Cross spokesperson.

"Health insurance is designed to pay for medically necessary treatment undertaken by medical professionals/experts in their respective fields."

The NZAO has the Wish For A Smile Trust available for young Kiwis to consider if they are unable to access orthodontic care.

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