3 January 2023

DIY orthodontics’ is a one size fits all approach to reshaping and altering the appearance of your mouth. Often this is done without seeing a dentist and simply by using a 3D scan of your mouth to make aligners which are then posted to you. This can cause a critical danger to people’s health, according to the latest episode of The Oral Health Podcast.

In the first of a two-part series on the rise of direct-to-consumer orthodontics, the Oral Health Foundation presents the many pitfalls and highlights severe concerns around the growing trend both in real life and social media.

There was a guest appearance from Karen Coates, an oral health educator and registered dental nurse who has worked with the Oral Health Foundation for many years. She describes how DIY orthodontics can cause ‘long-term’ and ‘irreparable’ damage to the mouth, jaw, and gums – and often leads to people going away unhappy and in a poorer state of health than before treatment. This can include everything from pain in eating to needing surgery to correct past mistakes.

Karen said: “You have to take a step back; this is not simple treatment. It cannot be done overnight.

“Step back and think. Would I let someone who was not qualified do fillings on me? Orthodontics is the same, it really is a feat of engineering. You have to rotate teeth, you are pushing them back and pushing them forward, but you don’t want all of them to move.”

Today’s episode addressed Safe smiles, an ongoing campaign about safe dentistry and what that means for everyone involved and some of the stories uncovered in the research for the campaign.

“They are preying really, probably on people who are very unhappy with their teeth. Four out of five people are not happy with their smile, so if you are looking at that number of people who are unhappy and the result doesn’t work for you that’s going to cause not only dental problems but psychological as well.” adds Karen.

The charity’s latest podcast discussed how orthodontists will give you a realistic look at what can be done and if you go DIY you will not have the same level of care during and after the treatment. A young mother tried to get the treatment through the surface to fix one tooth but unfortunately ended up with a huge abscess on her palate.

Karen says: “Cases like these are coming up all the time and permanent damage to your gums is not a great trade-off. We want to give you the tools to know that if you take that risk, this is what you are risking. The companies certainly won’t tell you as they are not trained. It is really scary. “

The Oral Health podcast is available to download and stream on all major platforms.

Or to find out more visit www.dentalhealth.org/safesmiles.