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Spend enough time on social media researching braces and you’ll probably come across teeth gap bands. They’re promoted as this fast, dirt-cheap method to close tooth gaps. And they do work, but they work against you. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on the things you don’t hear in those videos.
Teeth gap bands are orthodontic rubber bands used improperly to close diastemas (or front teeth gaps). They work by loosening your teeth inside the bone, but the force they apply is much too high and uncontrolled. The results are improper and temporary, and you risk losing your front teeth.
I understand the fascination with such a simple and cheap technique, but it’s ineffective at best, and dangerous at worst. Sure, teeth gap bands close that particular central gap, but new spaces reopen on the sides, so why even go through the pain and trouble? Let’s debunk some of the arguments out there.
What are teeth gap Bands?
Teeth gap bans aren’t a real thing. They’re actually orthodontic rubber bands of various sizes, advertised as ‘gap bands’. You can find them on Amazon, or a couple of scammer sites trying to sell you DIY braces.
Orthodontic rubber bands are used as part of braces, under the strict supervision of an orthodontist. Wearing them in the wrong position on your brackets, or wearing them for too long can cause unwanted effects that make treatment longer and more costly.
Now imagine placing those powerful elastics on your bare, slippery teeth, with no braces to support them. How is that a good idea?
Wearing any elastics on your bare teeth, whether they’re orthodontic rubber bands purchased on Amazon or simple rubber band hair ties is DANGEROUS and you risk weakening your front teeth, or even losing them.
Do teeth gap bands work?
Yes, teeth gap bands work. They apply force, loosen your teeth and move them in a similar way braces would. The problem with this force is that it’s too strong and impossible to control.
This lack of control will cause your front teeth to shift in unwanted ways. If you have a medium to large gap, you will most likely notice your teeth tilting. Because there are no braces and wires to control your teeth, it’s simply impossible to move them in a parallel manner.
Another thing about teeth gap bands is that they’re quick. It takes about 30 to 40 days to close a small gap, and around 60 days to close a larger, 2mm gap. With traditional braces, it would take about 4 to 6 months for smaller gaps, and over 12 months for a large gap that requires full braces.
Teeth gap bands work and they’re fast – so what’s the harm in using them? Well, think about where that space goes. If you bring your two front teeth together with gap bands, new gaps will open to the sides, and you’ll need to use 3 bands at a time to close those gaps too.
But aside from shifting your teeth around, you’re facing far bigger risks like gum disease and losing your teeth. Let’s take a look at what could happen.
Are teeth gap bands dangerous?
The worst thing that can happen with gap bands is for them to slip underneath the gums. Once an elastic gets lost underneath the gums, it continues to slip toward the tip of the root, cutting through gum tissue and bone and slowly ‘extracting’ your tooth in the process.
In the end, you’ll need an implant, and the costs and trauma of the ‘teeth gap band’ aftermath will far exceed the price of regular orthodontic treatment.
As an adult using teeth gap bands, this may not happen to you. Adults are more self-aware. But cases have been reported where parents tried DIY orthodontics on their kids with disastrous results. Like this boy who ended up losing both his front teeth as a gap band made its way through the gums.
And you know what saved the day and gave this boy a chance to live a normal life? You guessed it, traditional braces and bonding on his remaining front teeth.
What to do instead: budget-friendly options
People who look into DIY braces do so because they can’t afford normal braces or the price is more than they’re willing to pay just to close a gap. With the average price of braces going upwards of $5000, I can’t blame them.
However, if you’re happy with your teeth and only have a small gap to close, there are much cheaper options available at your dentist’s office. Here’s what to look for:
Teeth gap bands work on gaps that are 1mm or less, and the results are only temporary, as you’ll need a permanent retainer from your orthodontist anyway. If you’re looking to do this, know that even the slightest change can mess up your bite or negatively affect your gums and teeth.
The irony with ‘teeth gap bands’ results is that they’re not real. Looking at before and after pictures on these scammer sites, I can easily see that the ‘after’ is either a result of bonding, braces or both. In fact, some YouTubers who used gap bands admit going to the orthodontist to ‘finetune’ their results.
Don’t fall for these tricks, stay away from DIY braces and DIY dentistry in general.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze: