Orthodontists around the country are warning people of a disturbing new trend floating around the internet and social media – “do it yourself” braces. Doctors say there are videos online that supposedly teach you how to use different things to correct your teeth, but they also say none of them are safe. KSEE24’s Connie Tran looked into it more to explain how these do it yourself (DIY) videos can lead to irreversible consequences.

A local orthodontist said he’s heard of patients using paper clips, hair rubber bands – even fishing lines to try to straighten out teeth themselves. Doctors say the only way to safely move teeth is to see a professional. Not many people like to sit in the operatory chair of a doctor’s office.

But this woman – named Miranda – says she’s grateful to be at Unique Orthodontics in Clovis because Dr. John Bayrakdarian is going to correct the major mistake she made two months ago. Miranda used small rubber bands made for hair on her teeth.“I wanted to try to bring my front two bottom teeth in,” Miranda said.

She said she got the idea to try to straighten her own teeth from videos on YouTube. “I would just basically fit it in between and act like I’m flossing and then put it as tight and just keep going and going and going until,” her gums bled to the point of severe pain, Miranda said. She said she couldn’t eat hot or cold foods for days. The 25-year-old said she’s seen dozens of these types of videos on YouTube and other social media outlets aimed at young people.

“They were saying, ‘you know what, like this works – and don’t listen to the orthodontists, they just want your money and this worked for me.’ They would just keep saying ‘it works; it works – look at my teeth,’” Miranda said. But Dr. Bayrakdarian said these videos could not be further from the truth.

“Don’t do it yourself; so I would add on the DIY is DDIY – don’t do it yourself,” Bayrakdarian laughed. Though laughing now, Bayrakdarian explained to Miranda that she had done severe damage to her gums. “The gum tissue is inflamed, why? Because the rubber band had slipped beneath the gum tissue,” Dr. Bayrakdarian said.

He said if Miranda continued on with this practice any longer she could have lost her teeth for good. He said the rubber bands were cutting blood circulation and nutrients from the bone to the tooth. “On a weekly basis I’ve been seeing those kinds of patients coming in,” Bayrakdarian said.

And so have hundreds of orthodontists around the country. The American Association of Orthodontists said DIY braces is a trend they want to see come to an end.

Doctors say patients who try to do it themselves risk losing their teeth permanently. “The trend is on the rise, and we know it’s because our members have reported; we have had 13 percent of our membership indicate that they have seen an increase in the number of patients,” said Dr. DeWayne B. McCamish of American Association of Orthodontists. The doctors attribute the DIY trend primarily to social media.

Bayrakdarian said, “The youngest I’ve seen is approximately 9 years old – 9 years old trying with paper clips to bring teeth together, and that was kind of disturbing. The association says 39 percent of orthodontists who reported seeing DIY patients had to provide corrective and restorative treatment, and the majority of those doctors said the patients would have ultimately saved time and money if they had gone to an orthodontist in the first place.

Miranda said she agrees. “Don’t look at YouTube for braces; that’s it,” Miranda said.

Doctors say it can take months to move a tooth safely. If someone loses a tooth, an implant can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000.