DIY Dentistry

The Unintended Consequences of DIY Dentistry

The Real Costs Of DIY Denistry

With the vast amount of knowledge available to us all on the internet, do-it-yourself trends are on the rise. From home improvement projects and car repair to electronics, and gardening and everything in between. However, when it comes to your oral healthcare, you may want to reconsider the do-it-yourself or DIY dentistry approach. Oftentimes the unintended consequences can be much more costly, damaging and even dangerous in the long run.

A Clever Ad Campaign

No, I’m Not, but I Did Stay at A Holiday Inn Express Last Night!
This line from a Holiday Inn commercial was all over the media about a decade ago. The catchphrase found its way in many conversations, and it was a marketing boon for the hotel chain. The phrase followed a scenario in which some time of emergency arises. A fellow then comes forward and as he is just about to begin saving the day responds to the question regarding his credentials. “No, I do not have those qualifications, but since I am smart enough to choose a certain hotel, then I am smart enough to help save the day.”

While a clever ad campaign, it’s logic is obviously flawed. Knowledge or success in one endeavor or activity does not translate into success in another task.

You may ask, where is this column going and what does it have to do with dentistry?

Like it or not we are inundated with all types of knowledge at our fingertips through computers and mini- computers known as smartphones. If you are not online, then I’m sure that you know a friend or relative who connected to this vast amount of knowledge. Today, ideas and thoughts spread like wildfire. I read something and then share it via some social media or email with all of my acquaintances.

I am talking specifically about performing DIY dentistry.

The ADA’s Campaign against DIY Dentistry

Last August, the American Dental Association began a campaign to warn the public concerning providing do it yourself oral health care. One of the latest trends is orthodontics. Recent advances now allow tooth movement to occur with transparent plastic devices rather than braces. Why can’t everyone do this for themselves? If I see a crooked tooth, all I need to do is to buy a kit, read the instructions and voila, I am a dentist.  If you think for a moment about this statement, it is ludicrous. A dental degree takes almost a decade of education to learn how to move teeth. Does it make sense that a company will teach you all of that? If this would be true, then all the very intelligent people who go to school are fools. After all, why not just learn it on the internet?

What about purely cosmetic procedures?

I’m sure that you’re saying that I am right. Self orthodontics is not for me. What about something purely cosmetic like teeth whitening? Why should I pay for professional supervision and education? Just this week, Fox News reported that a patient had a horrible allergic reaction to an over the counter whitening kit. Her lips swelled to double their normal size. They ballooned so much that it appeared that she was in a fight and hit in the face.

Dr. Joseph P. Crowley, ADA president in 2018, stated on this subject “Despite the apparent cost savings as advertised by these products, they can often cost more in the long run to correct.”

In our case of the woman who whitened her teeth, the chemicals involved in changing the color of teeth can be caustic and damaging to gums and hard tooth structure. The techniques for whitening were designed for a dental professional with years of training, knowledge, and skills.

The Correct Approach to Invisible Orthodontics

Coming back to orthodontics, when we move teeth or attempt to the result can cause severe issues down the road. A tooth in the wrong position will affect your bite and wear and tear among the other teeth. I am passionate about using clinically tested and proven products to move teeth. Clear removable aligners like those that come from Invisalign have changed the capability of orthodontics. More patient of all ages are now moving and correcting their tooth position because they have options other than braces. In the past, where I would need to cut a tooth, now it is often possible to move it.

Schedule a Professional Evaluation

If you have teeth that don’t look right, give Megan a call at 440.951.7856 and set up an appointment for a professional evaluation. I will do my best to advise you what is appropriate for you and your situation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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