Your teeth are important to you. They’re not only useful for eating and chewing, but they can also make a huge impact on your appearance. With every photo, you may wonder if your smile is too gummy or too toothy. You may wonder if you should get your teeth whitened or otherwise altered.
And perhaps your greatest concern is a noticeable gap between your front teeth. These gaps aren’t uncommon, but some people are eager to rid themselves of the extra space.
One particular quick solution has been on the rise, and many have seriously considered it. For all those thrifty DIYers that want to close a gap, the use of rubber bands has made a more prominent appearance. But what does this method involve, and is it safe?
How Does It Work?
To close a gap, many people have begun slipping small rubber bands around the teeth that frame the empty space. There are some bands sold for this specific purpose, and some folks have resorted to using small hairbands or orthodontic bands. Others even use floss or string to tie the teeth together.
Many believe it to be a fast, effective way to close a gap, as people often see complete results in less than two months.
What’s the Problem?
This process might not seem like it would do much damage, and on the surface, it may actually appear to be that cost-effective DIY fix you’re looking for. But the American Association of Orthodontists has warned the public to keep away from such a method, as it can ruin the gums and teeth.
Several decades ago, rubber bands were used for easy tooth extractions. Once the rubber band was placed on a tooth, the overall shape of the tooth would guide the rubber band up and down the roots, severing the connection to the gums and allowing it to fall out without an extensive removal process.
Similarly, when you wrap a rubber band around two teeth to close a gap, the rubber band can gradually ride up into the gums, pulling the roots together and damaging the surrounding soft tissues and bone. After a while, the visible portions of the teeth will fan out at an unnatural angle.
Eventually, the teeth will fall out, and the gums will become inflamed and painful. And once the rubber band has slipped into the gums, it’s incredibly difficult to remove if removal is possible at all, and the damage can be fairly extensive.
Even if the rubber band doesn’t drift up into the gums, your teeth’s rapid change in position can affect the blood supply to the teeth, changing the color of your teeth. The movement can also affect the blood supply to the gums, resulting in inflammation and eventually infection. This can change the shape of your gums and can also result in bone loss and possible tooth loss.
And even if your teeth look fine after a few weeks of gap banding, you may experience shooting pain in your mouth along with muscle spasms and issues with your jaw joints.
So, if you use a rubber band, floss, or string to move your teeth closer together, you could end up with two missing or discolored teeth in the front. And even if your teeth look fine, you may experience other uncomfortable issues that could affect your quality of life.
What if Something Does Go Wrong?
Braces can be expensive, which is probably why people are considering this DIY approach. But if your teeth fall out or there’s damage to the surrounding bone and gums, the resulting repairs can cost even more than braces. You may need surgery, or if you want to replace your teeth, you may also need implants or bridges.
Why Are Braces Better?
When you get braces, the orthodontist keeps a careful eye on the movement of your teeth. Orthodontists have had years of training and understand the dangers of too much movement in the teeth. The wire used for braces actually maintains that healthy curve of the teeth, and with careful, gradual adjustments, the roots will slowly move with the rest of the teeth.
This movement is slow enough not to damage the blood supply or the roots, keeping the teeth and surrounding gums and bone healthy.
Always Consult Your Dentist
If you’re thinking of trying a new dental trend, it’s always best to talk to your dentist. Even if a new method or process appears safe, checking with a dental professional can protect your teeth from damage and prevent future dental hardship. Your dentist can also offer suggestions or advice for achieving that perfect look.
However, if you’ve already begun doing something different to your teeth, contact a local dentist right away so he or she can ensure your teeth are healthy and not in any danger of damage.