From baking a pie to knotting a bow tie, anyone with access to Youtube can learn how to do almost anything – even complicated tasks. One unusual group of tutorial videos claims to show viewers how to make do-it-yourself braces.

But according to Dr. Kelly Heetland, an orthodontist from Wichita Falls and a past president of the Texas Association of Orthodontics board of directors, the kids who are making and consuming these videos should remember this work is best left in the hands of trained professionals.

“They’re really experimenting with their teeth, their gums, their bone and, in a lot of cases, causing irreversible damage,” Heetland says.

People often resort to trying to treat themselves because of how simple the mechanisms behind braces appear, Heetland says.

“Like a lot of things, it looks simple, but when you dig deep, it’s complicated,” he says.

For those trying to make their own braces, who Heetland says typically include young people from elementary school to college age, the incentives to use DIY methods range from wanting to fit in with a group of friends who already have braces, to wanting to fix a cosmetic problem on their own.

Before taking their children to an orthodontist to seek medical and cosmetic advice, parents should use an interest in home-brew teeth straightening as an opportunity to discuss more deeply rooted issues of self-esteem, Heetland says.

“If you see your kid doing this, be positive with them,” Heetland says. “They have some desire to want to change something either physically in their bite or smile or connect socially, so I think it’s a great place for you to recognize that and you can make this a positive experience.”

 

Written by Morgan O’Hanlon

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