Unsupervised DIY braces bought online can cause irreparable damage!

The Mail on Sunday recently published an article which highlighted the problems of buying braces online. As you can imagine, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a great temptation, which in some cases, according to the interviews the paper undertook, have led to irreparable damage, including the loss of teeth.

The braces being offered look very similar to the Invisalign aligners that we offer that gently move your teeth into position. A layman would be hard pushed to see the difference – but it’s there and any underlying dental problems will make that very evident!DIY Braces

The General Dental Council, which regulates dentists and orthodontists in the UK, is “gathering evidence about the potential risk of harm to patients from direct to consumer orthodontics”, the article quotes. This follows on from reports that these aligners are being sold directly to the public via Facebook and Instagram. Whilst this is legal, it’s the lack of medical support or supervision that is causing concern.

The chairman of the British Dental Association, Mick Armstrong, is another who has warned that DIY braces could leave a patient with “irreparable damage to the mouth“. And Peter McCallum from the British Orthodontic Society added: “many of our members are already seeing patients who have had problems after DIY brace treatment. If a tooth is moved to an unstable position, the damage can be permanent.”

According to the article, the Mail on Sunday found companies offering DIY braces designed by using a 3-D image of the teeth, based on the dental moulds made at home by either the patient, or taken by an assistant at one of the companies’ stores. And this is where the first problems can occur – 3-D Scans don’t show if there are any dental health problems.

When a patient comes to us requesting treatment, the first thing we do is an examination, followed by an x-ray. Without undertaking these, we wouldn’t dream of going forward with treatment. Mouths with gum disease should not be treated as the risk is too great; the gum disease has to be addressed first. Secondly, not all teeth have long enough roots or bone around them to take even gentle movement, without the risk of loosening the teeth too much. It is impossible to detect these problems using 3-D scans.

The article went on to describe several cases where there have been preventable problems and where lack of medical care has been demonstrated. The paper, who had intended to name the three companies investigated, have been prevented from doing so by the threat of legal action from one firm.

To read more about the stories that they uncovered and the problems that occurred please follow this link.