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The Perils of Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics


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With beauty trends always evolving, we are always looking for new ways to feel and look better. Our smile is often a top priority. With the advent of the internet, we have more access to information than ever before, which can be an advantage as people are more educated and have the information necessary to pursue professional care. There is, however, a downside to this excessive amount of unmonitored information, which can sometimes encourage a do-it-yourself attitude towards health and dental care.

While there are certainly instances where DIY is very useful, and there are others when it can be truly harmful. One such example is DIY orthodontics, which ranges from YouTube videos that show the use of rubber bands and floss to close spaces and move teeth, to online straightening of teeth done using pictures and mailed trays, to objects purchased online that will move the teeth. The problem is that those who are tempted to use these methods are often unaware of the dangers, which can include tooth loss and damage to the gums and teeth that will require expensive dental treatment and may even result in irreversible damage.

Orthodontics is a medical treatment. To get the proper results, you must think of yourself as a patient rather than a consumer. As a patient, you are under the supervision of a doctor. The field of orthodontics is a combination of science and art, with biology at the center of the specialty.

An orthodontist goes to 4 years of dental school after college and is required to complete an additional 2- to 3-years of specialty residency after becoming a dentist to earn the title of an orthodontist. This level of education is necessary to learn all of the factors involved in moving teeth, designing the best smile, and understanding the jaws and face in a growing and non-growing individual.

I often hear, “I only have one crooked tooth.” This may be a simple fix, or it may be that several teeth have to move to get the one tooth in the right place. How much are the teeth supposed to move? Where do they move to? What about the bite? What about the bone and gum support? Who is monitoring the movement?

The great news is that these days, orthodontists have several options to treat all patients. Before you try any DIY orthodontics, get a consultation with an orthodontist. Be open about your goals and, if necessary, your financial needs. I highly encourage you to read the alert issued by the AAO to be fully informed; visit here and here.

Orthodontists are here to help you achieve the best possible smile; don’t go at it alone! Be sure to alert your teens about the dangers of DIY orthodontics. You only have one set of permanent teeth, so they deserve the best – seek it! We welcome you to call our office for a free consultation at (703) 433-9330.


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Dr. Rana Barakat, a board certified specialist in Orthodontics, has been proudly serving Northern Virginia for 20-years! She has built her practice on a personal touch and excellent treatment. As a parent, she understands wanting the best for your children in giving them beautiful, confident smiles. She makes it a priority to ensure optimal results, but also believes that each patient’s experience during treatment is just as important as the clinical result. As the 2015-16 President of the Virginia Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Barakat’s dedication and expertise reflect why her peers continue to nominate her as a Top Dentist.

Barakat Orthodontics is located at 45745 Nokes Blvd., Ste. 175, Sterling, VA 20166. Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (703) 433-9330. Download their free app: iTunes | Google Play.


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