Consumer Alert: The dangers of DIY dentistry

Consumer Alert: The dangers of DIY dentistry

Experts are calling "do it yourself" dentistry, a growing industry on the Internet, a prescription for disaster.

YouTube videos show viewers how to do most dental procedures at home, including straightening teeth with elastic bands or wires.

"I have seen more than one instance where harm has been done," said Dr. DeWayne McCamish of the American Association of Orthodontists.

With some videos getting hundreds of thousands of hits, Dr. McCamish expects there is more damage to come.

"I can assure you that with the Internet and the availability of information that's out there for a lot of consumers, that there's going to be more occurring," Dr. McCamish said.

Tina Hicks said she turned to the Internet because she could not afford an orthodontist to fix the space between her two front teeth.

"The perfect smile for me is a smile with no gaps," Hicks said.

She spent $20 on so-called "gap bands" to fix the problem, but said they were so uncomfortable she had to stop using them.

"They were cutting into my gums. It was super painful," said Hicks.

Experts say gap bands are considered one of the most dangerous of the Internet quick fixes. They can cause tooth loss and ongoing dental problems.

"A tooth is shaped like an ice cream cone. That rubber band, as it goes up the teeth, it pulls that tooth out of the bone," Dr. McCamish said.

Hicks said she is learning to live with the space between her teeth.

"I have a love-hate relationship with this gap," Hicks said.

Doctors agreed that the Internet is no substitute for a dental professional.

"We are dealing with a medical procedure. We are dealing with how a person is going to be for a lifetime. This is not today and tomorrow, this is forever," Dr. McCamish said.

An orthodontist can also spot untreated cavities or underlying gum infections before any teeth strengthening is done.

According to WebMD, there are certain things you can do yourself when you run into trouble with your teeth.

Click here for more information.

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