A beautiful smile is something everyone desires, and many teenagers are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve perfection. Recently, videos have been popping up on social media that depict other teens claiming to straighten their teeth and close gaps using common household objects. While rubber bands and dental floss may seem innocuous at first glance, this do-it-yourself trend has alarmed orthodontic professionals enough that the American Association of Orthodontics has issued a consumer alert for parents. Fortunately, awareness of this trend can help parents to prevent costly damage to their child's oral health.
Understand the Potential Dangers
Teens are known for taking risks, yet those attempting to achieve the effects of braces with household objects do not realize the potential long-term repercussions. One of the most common forms of DIY orthodontics involves looping a rubber band around two teeth to move them closer together. According to Today, this method can result in lost teeth if the rubber band moves up toward the gums and cuts off the attachments. Gum infections, misaligned teeth and jaw disorders are just a few more of the potential types of damage that teens could face.
Watch for Warning Signs
By the time a child hits their teens, most parents would never suspect that they were putting foreign objects in their mouths. Yet, a teen that is unhappy with their smile may have visible rubber bands, paperclips and dental floss looped around their front teeth. In some instances, earring backs have been glued to the surface of the teeth as a form of makeshift brackets. Parents and dental professionals should also be alert for signs of damage that may be found after a teen removes their DIY appliances. Loose front teeth, swollen gums and facial pain should prompt a serious discussion about a teen's oral habits.
Talk About Alternatives
If a teen is experiencing extreme discomfort with their appearance, then it is important to talk to them about the dangers of do-it-yourself methods. Let them know that this trend can lead to significant and costly long-term damage such as losing their teeth. Professional orthodontists spend on average two to three years beyond their dental school training to learn how to align teeth correctly. If your teen is in need of orthodontic treatment, then a consultation with a professional is the best way to improve their smile while protecting their oral health.
Staying on top of teen trends can be difficult with the constant presence of social media, yet this is one dangerous DIY project of which every parent should be aware. On the surface, rubber bands may seem to be slowly transforming a teen's smile, while serious damage is occurring in the ligaments and bones that hold the teeth in place. While you may think that your teen would never attempt such a silly trend, the growing number of teens showing up to dental appointments with damage warrants a straight talk about your child's dental health today.
To learn more about braces, contact a company like Clark Family Dentistry.