Natural teeth straightening: a dream or reality?

Medically Reviewed by a
Licensed DDS

Table of Contents

  1. DIY Methods to Avoid
  2. The Hazards of Natural Methods
  3. Building on Decades of Research
  4. References

We often equate the word natural with the word good. If we can get something we want — like straighter teeth — without the help of medical professionals, that seems ideal. We all want to work within natural structures.

Plenty of people are investigating natural tooth straightening. In fact, in a survey of orthodontists, 13 percent said they'd worked with patients who tried to straighten their teeth with so-called natural or DIY techniques.

Unfortunately, these steps can backfire. In extreme cases, they can even lead to tooth loss or systemic infection.

If your teeth need straightening, you must work with dental professionals. But if your smile is only moderately or mildly impaired, you could use telemedicine techniques and stay in touch with your doctor while you straighten your teeth at home.

DIY methods to avoid.

Watch videos on YouTube or read online message boards, and you'll believe that straightening teeth is a matter of applying pressure to the right teeth in the right way with tools you have around your house or inside your body.

Various solutions seen online include:

  • Tongue thrusts. People claim that pushing your tongue against your teeth while sucking in air can shift crooked teeth to the proper place, and you need no tools at all.
  • Rubber bands. People buy inexpensive rubber bands, and they wrap them around tooth sets. The bands stay on constantly, and they apply pressure to move the teeth into a new formation.
  • Stick chewing. The idea here is that gnawing on something hard, like a branch from a tree, will help you put pressure on your teeth to shift them into the right positions.
  • Pushing. Online commentators suggest that you can move your teeth with your fingers, if you apply pressure whenever you're reading, thinking, working, or doing something similar.

All of these methods have similarities. They cost very little, if anything, and most don't require special tools or equipment.

These methods also eliminate a dental professional entirely. No one discussing these options online mentions visiting a dental expert first to plan how the teeth should move, and none recommend checking in with a pro to ensure that the plan is working properly. If you choose one of these options, you're working completely alone.

Your teeth are made up of delicate, living tissue, and choosing a DIY, natural teeth-straightening technique, and you could damage that tissue.

The hazards of natural methods.

It may seem harmless enough to push and pull on your teeth with items you have at home. But your choice to use natural, DIY methods could have catastrophic consequences for your teeth.

Your teeth are not inert. Each tooth is made up of sensitive, living tissue. Pressure of any sort can harm that living tissue, and when that happens, even professionals may not be able to fix the damage done.

Use these natural methods, and you run the risk of:

Losing Your Teeth
Rubber bands are a major culprit here. They can slide up your teeth into the gum tissue, where you can't see them or remove them. One person tried this method, and he lost his bands. His teeth started to protrude and push forward. Then, he lost both teeth at the root.
Weakening Your Teeth
The pressure you put on your teeth triggers a complicated bone process. Molecules of bone resorb and then rebuild. It takes time, and if you move your teeth too quickly, it doesn't happen at all. The result is teeth that have moved, but they're completely unmoored from structures below.
Causing Pain
Without a formal plan from a dental professional, you don't know how your teeth should move. Shift them in the wrong way, experts say, and you can cause muscle spasms, clenching issues, and joint pain. You might even develop shooting pain in your face and jaw.
Developing Infections
Blood nourishes the tissues in your mouth, and some DIY techniques restrict the flow. Toxins in your mouth can proliferate, and in some cases, they can spread through your blood and into your body as a whole. Those infections can be life-threatening, experts say.
Discoloring Your Teeth
When blood can't reach the center of your teeth, you'll see that issue on the surface. Your teeth could turn blue or black, dentists say, and that issue might be permanent. It could also indicate that the tooth is dead or dying, and you might need it pulled.
The urge to take control and save money is understandable. But your teeth are so critical to your overall health. It makes sense to protect them, and that means avoiding these dangerous practices.

Building on decades of research.

Orthodontics, as a practice, isn't new. The British Orthodontic Society has records of orthodontics research that go back to the mid-1800s. Each time you work with a professional, you're building on all of that work to protect your teeth.

Orthodontists know how to assess your current smile and determine what teeth need to move and how quickly the shift should take place. They work with staging, shifting one tooth out of place to make room for another.

And they can pivot and change course if something unexpected happens while your program moves forward. That can, and does, happen. It's best that you're working with a professional when it does.

Orthodontists use braces to move your teeth, and that's very old technology that has been around for decades. Braces are made up of:

  • Glue. Hardware is affixed to your teeth throughout the entirety of treatment.
  • Brackets. Small pieces sit at the front or the back of your teeth as spots for tugging.
  • Wire. A metal piece connects all the brackets together, so your teeth stay connected throughout treatment.
  • Rubber bands. Some people need extra pushing and pulling to amend a smile. Rubber bands attached to brackets and wires can help.

All of this hardware can seem unsightly, and it's certainly hard to ignore. Anyone who looks closely will see that your smile is a work in progress. And braces can be uncomfortable. The metal can scrape your lips and tongue, and the constant pressure can make your head ache.

But the process is safe, and it shouldn't cause you to lose your teeth or develop infections. It's the safest way to transform major problems with your smile.

Aligners offer another route to a better smile. Choose this method, and you'll skip all the hardware and metal. Instead, you'll use plastic trays that wrap around your teeth and offer constant pressure.

Some companies use telemedicine techniques, so you're always working with a doctor even while you are at home. This route works best for mild or moderate smile problems, and it's a much better option than hacking at your teeth with tools not made for that purpose.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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