3D imaging to produce 3D braces to straighten teeth at home has received a great deal of attention since a popular internet story came out about a college student who used a high-end 3D printer from his school to scan and print 3D models of the teeth he wanted to correct. He then used non-toxic plastic to make molds and ultimately create clear aligners for himself.
While the student’s teeth did move into place, no dental examination was performed before or during his self-treatment. The student did state that he was “worried about accumulated error” and does not recommend that others try the DIY process. When asked if he would print 3D braces for others, he declined, claiming “too much liability”. This story received enough media attention that Rolf G. Behrents, Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics wrote a editorial Do-it-yourself impressions and clear retainers: A fairy tale (Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2016;150:205-7 0889-5406).
Anyone thinking about trying to replicate his self-proclaimed “hacker project” should recognize the dangers of an at-home braces attempt. While 3D printed braces may seem like a cost-effective way to straighten teeth, the potential damage to the bite and bone can be far costlier, not only financially, but to long-term dental health.
Orthodontic treatment costs more than the $60 spent by the DIY college student because orthodontists spend years receiving technical training on how to straighten teeth and align the bite. An untrained person has no control over the pace the teeth move when using an at-home treatment. Just because it is possible to move your own teeth, maybe even into a straighter position, does not mean that you should.
Any at-home or DIY braces, whether they be direct mail aligners, gap bands, or 3D printed braces, run the risk of causing a tremendous amount of dental damage. You should never have orthodontic treatment without a professional consultation that includes x-rays. Many people have discovered that saving money on braces often ends up proving that you get what you pay for.
If cost is a factor in deciding to undergo orthodontic treatment, call our office for a complimentary consultation. We have payment plans available that will allow you to achieve a beautiful smile while being confident that you are receiving quality, safe, and effective orthodontic care.
If you need additional information or have experienced complications with Do It Yourself 3D Braces (DIY braces) or aligners and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972 335 1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.