I have a gap between my two front teeth and my dentist has been suggesting orthodontics. I told him I wasn’t really up for the long-term commitment required of braces, so he recommended porcelain veneers. I love the look of porcelain veneers, wow! the price. Those are out of my budget. I recently came across an ad for “orthodontic bands.” They’re very inexpensive, and appear to be the same kind of treatment one might get from an orthodontist, but the results come from wearing rubber bands around the spaced teeth for a couple of weeks or months. The price is right and there isn’t a serious time commitment. It seems to me that if this product was as good as it says it is, dentists would be offering it instead of porcelain veneers and orthodontic treatment. I’d ask my dentist, but I’m concerned that he’ll guide me to one of his options so the cash goes to him. What’s the deal with orthodontic bands? Are they a good alternative?
No! No! No! I want to make sure I’ve been clear about this. This type of treatment is a gimmick, and none of the companies selling them appear to have FDA approval for the way they’re being marketed.
When braces are used to shift teeth, they move in a uniform manner and are gently twisted and pulled until they are in perfect alignment. Spaces are distributed evenly, so no odd gaps are left behind when treatment is finished.
In the orthodontic community, “bands” typically refers to a metal band around a tooth, though rubber bands are also used to help guide the jaw into the right position over time.
The product that you’re referring to wraps around teeth and pulls them together. Because the force applied is different, it loosens the teeth and pulls them into an awkward inward position. Imagine if you wrapped a rubber band a group of straws- that inward pull where the band sits is what happens to teeth that use just bands to remove gaps between them. The teeth may go into a very poor alignment and can also become severely damaged. You could also loose the teeth.
When porcelain veneers are used, the teeth don’t move at all, but the new façade covers up the gap. Unlike ortho or porcelain veneers, the gap doesn’t actually disappear, either. It merely becomes displaced, so it will appear on the outside of the last teeth wrapped in the band.
Lastly, ortho typically concludes with the patient wearing a retainer to keep the teeth in place. The bands you mentioned don’t have anything like that, so the teeth will begin shifting as soon as you take the bands off. Even though they’re cheaper up front, using rubber bands or “orthodontic bands” in the manner you mentioned can wind up being a very costly mistake.
All that being said, I’m surprised your dentist hasn’t mentioned dental bonding. That is the typical treatment for a tooth gap when the patient doesn’t want to close the gap with braces or Invisalign.
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