Dr. Lauren Vitkus

Dr. Lauren Vitkus

(Editor’s note: October is National Orthodontic Health Month.)

Most of you probably have seen the videos or articles about DIY orthodontics by now.

The newest is the Tik Tok fad about filing uneven edges of your teeth with a nail file. Prior to that, it was placing rubber bands around your teeth to close gaps. There are multiple companies that now offer mail order impressions and clear trays to straighten your teeth at home without ever consulting an orthodontist Following the instructions of these companies or the people in these videos could be one of the worst decisions you could make for your oral health. Despite the apparent conveniences of do-it-yourself orthodontics you should always schedule an appointment with an actual orthodontist before doing anything to move or adjust your teeth or your child’s teeth.


Because when it comes to your teeth, there is much more than meets the eye. Any treatment you complete at home does not include X-rays, and without X-rays there is no way to identify what is going on under the surface.

Let’s start with filing your teeth — when you file your teeth you are removing the protective layer of enamel on the outside; if to much is removed or if this is done wrong, you could experience severe tooth sensitivity.

In regards to using rubber bands to close gaps, a simple rubber band can have terrible consequences. A recent article in the American Journal of Orthodontics reports on an 8-year-old boy who had a gap between his top two front teeth. Taking matters into their own hands, his family placed a rubber band around his two teeth and after a couple days the gap was gone! What was unknown to them at the time, however, was that the rubber band had slid up the teeth and under the gums. In a short period of time it cut off the blood supply to the teeth, and severed the attachments between the gums and the teeth. The two front teeth were soon lost.

These are certainly extreme examples, and you may still be thinking that taking a mold of your teeth and ordering aligners in the mail to just straighten your teeth a little is harmless enough. But without an X-ray you can not identify unforeseen issues that may occur. The shape of your teeth and roots influences how teeth move. You may have short roots, or impacted teeth that you can’t see in your mouth. What could appear to be a simple fix, likely is a little more complicated than you think.

An orthodontist has years of training in understanding how teeth move and can ensure the most efficient and effective treatment for you. The chances of you getting your ideal, healthy smile are much better when you get an expert’s help from the start!

Our office, and the majority of orthodontic offices, offer no charge consultations. And while many of you have concerns about the cost of orthodontics, most orthodontists now offer affordable treatment options and payment plans. You only get one set of permanent teeth, and we want you to protect them! Trust your smile to an orthodontist. You won’t be disappointed!

Dr. Lauren Vitkus is a practicing orthodontist and owner of Vitkus Orthodontics in Geneva. She is a graduate of Brown University, Buffalo Dental School and Eastman Institute for Oral Health. She currently serves on both the American Association of Orthodontics Council on Communications and the American Dental Association’s Committee on Annual Meetings. More information about her can be found on their website at www.vitkusortho.com.

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