TikTok Users Are Closing Teeth Gaps Using Rubber Bands: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Do It

Gap in teeth


Every day it seems that new viral trends are popping up on TikTok. Recently, there have been a number of dental trends, from at-home teeth filing to DIY braces. These ideas are presented as easier, cheaper alternatives to professional dental or orthodontic treatment. However, many of these ideas are risky dental hacks you shouldn’t try.

In one video, which has since been removed, TikTok user @diana..nova documented her progress with “banding” or wrapping her front teeth with cheap rubber bands in order to close a tooth gap. The video has garnered more than 9 million views so far. In another video that has racked up more than 600,000 likes, user @elijahosein talks about using the rubber band trick to close his tooth gap. It seems to work in the short term — but at what long-term cost?

“Banding” might seem like an easy (and cheap) fix for a tooth gap. However, here’s the reality behind this trend — using rubber bands to pull the teeth together is very dangerous and can lead to permanent damage to your teeth.

The movement of teeth is something that should be handled by a trained specialist, not done at home. Here are the reasons why.

This Trend Can Cause Tooth Loss

Using rubber bands to close teeth gaps is not new. It’s been done since the 1870s. And, the fact that it can cause tooth loss has been well-documented in studies. In one case study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, an 8-year-old boy in Greece lost his teeth after his parents used a rubber band to close a gap between his teeth. Within just a couple of days, the rubber band had worked its way under the gums and caused extensive damage to the tissue and surrounding roots. The patient lost his front two teeth and experienced significant pain and swelling. In the end, the parents’ DIY treatment resulted in a costly and difficult treatment.

It’s Only A Temporary Solution

Using rubber bands to shift your teeth may work in the short term, but it’s just a temporary solution. As soon as you stop using the rubber bands, your teeth will shift right back to where they were before.

Repairing the Damage Could Be Costly

Sure, it can be expensive to go to an orthodontist to fix a tooth gap. Attempting to close a gap by yourself might save some money upfront. However, the damage done by gap bands to your roots, gums, and teeth can require extensive oral surgery in some cases. In the end, this could end up being much more expensive than professional orthodontic treatment.

Even if the attempt to close a gap seems successful, it could cause unseen damage that will cost a lot of money to fix later. This happened to David Campbell, who told the Dayton Daily News that he eventually had to shell out over $40,000 for corrective dental work after using rubber bands to try to fix his smile.

What About Mail Order Aligners? Are They a Better Choice?

Companies like Byte and NewSmile promise to fix tooth gaps using clear aligners that can cost thousands of dollars less than professional clear aligners like Invisalign. They also advertise no in-person visits to the dentist ever. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

These DIY systems are so popular because of people’s desire for healthier, straighter smiles. There are many benefits to having a straighter smile and eliminating tooth gaps, including improved self-esteem. But, orthodontic treatment is a serious procedure that should only be done by a trained orthodontist.

Here’s one reason why getting orthodontic treatment from these companies is not a good idea.  SmileDirectClub, which used to be a leader in mail-order clear aligners, suddenly shut down leaving its customers without any support for ongoing treatment. The company promised a “lifetime smile guarantee,” but instead essentially abandoned their customers in the middle of treatment. This is very risky for the customers.

Most of these companies like SmileDirectClub have it written in the fine print that they are not responsible for damage caused by these aligners. So, if something happens with these “treatments,” you are on your own.

There are real risks with these at-home aligners. If they aren’t done properly, it can interfere with your bite and cause nerve damage, misalignment, broken teeth, and other painful problems. One former SmileClubDirect customer told NBC News that the aligners moved his teeth so fast that it led to pain. He may ultimately lose up to six teeth.

Major dental associations, like the American Dental Association (ADA), strongly oppose direct-to-consumer teeth aligners. According to the ADA, there is a risk of irreversible harm with these aligners. In addition, individuals are treated as customers rather than patients.

The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) has also spoken out and lodged complaints against mail-order aligners and companies like SmileClubDirect. According to the AAO, it’s in the best interest of the public to receive orthodontic treatment by a licensed orthodontist. Companies like SmileClubDirect treat orthodontics like a product. However, orthodontic treatment is a complex medical process that requires a professional to oversee it.

Move Teeth The Right Way: With An Orthodontist

If you want to close a tooth gap or straighten your teeth, it’s best to leave that sort of work to a trained orthodontist. An orthodontist is a uniquely qualified specialist who has had years of training and practice to be able to do these types of procedures. Visiting an orthodontist is the best way to ensure that you get safe, effective, and lasting results.

Moving teeth is something that should be done only after a complete in-person assessment and treatment plan. An orthodontist can carefully monitor treatment to avoid serious problems and ensure that your treatment is progressing appropriately and safely. They also know how to correct problems that might arise during treatment.

The Best Ways to Close Teeth Gaps

Gaps in your teeth, known as diastemas, can cause you to feel embarrassed especially if they involve the front two teeth. Tooth gaps can also cause food to become trapped, decay, and other problems, which explains why so many people are looking for ways to get rid of them. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix gaps in teeth using braces and other professional orthodontic treatments. These treatments can help fix alignment issues with teeth, as well. They can be used for kids, teens, and adults.

Metal Braces

Braces are highly effective at correcting tooth gaps. These are a great option for closing gaps because they pull the teeth together, using metal brackets, elastic chains, and wire. Teeth are shifted closer together using a chain of small elastic bands that attach to brackets on the teeth. Gaps can be closed in as little as six months with braces, depending on the size of the gap and other factors.

Clear Braces

If you’re worried about the look of metal braces, clear braces are a more discreet option for closing teeth gaps. They use clear or tooth-colored brackets and wires to close gaps in teeth. They are less visible than traditional metal braces and work just as well. Clear braces are more affordable compared to Invisalign aligners.

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Invisalign treatments are excellent choices for closing smaller tooth gaps. However, if the gap is large, braces may be needed. The advantage of Invisalign is that you won’t have a noticeable wire across the gap. Plus these aligners are removable, which makes hygiene and eating easier. They are also exceptionally comfortable and work quickly.

With Invisalign, the exact treatment process (times, etc) may vary, depending on the size, location, and cause of your gap. Invisalign aligners are prescribed and overseen by a licensed orthodontist.

Paying for Orthodontic Treatment

When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you have many flexible options for payment, many of which aren’t available with mail-order aligners. Options include using a health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), health insurance, or a financing plan that can be used to spread the cost of braces over time.

The Process

Many Tiktokers say that they go the DIY route because they believe that it is quicker than getting orthodontic treatment. Here at Johnson Family Orthodontics, we have the process down to three steps:

  • Call us for a completely free consultation
  • We take digital images to create a precise 3D model of your teeth
  • Then you start the process of Invisalign or braces the same day

That’s it, three simple steps!

Final Thoughts

So what’s the takeaway here? Having a smile that you feel confident with is important. But, TikTok should definitely not be the place that you go for orthodontic advice. Stick with the funny dance videos on TikTok and leave your smile to the pros!

Here at Johnson Family Orthodontics, we offer no-cost consultations to help you understand all the orthodontic solutions available to you. Get in touch for a no-obligation consultation from Dr. Johnson today.