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Experts Warn Against DIY Dentistry

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It seems that you can turn to the Internet to learn how to do just about anything.

Sometimes learning from the web can save you money, but there is one new 'do it yourself' trend that might do more harm than good.

It's 'do-it-yourself dentistry.' YouTube videos show viewers how to straighten teeth with elastic bands or wires, but experts call it a prescription for disaster.

"I have seen more than one instance where harm has been done," said Dr. DeWayne McCamish of the American Association of Orthodontists.

With some videos getting hundreds of thousands of hits, he expects there is more damage to come.

"I can assure you that with the internet and the availability of information that's out there for a lot of consumers, that there's going to be more occurring," he said.

Tina Hicks said she turned to the internet because she couldn't afford an orthodontist to fix the space between her two front teeth.

"The perfect smile for me is a smile with no gaps," she said.

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She spent $20 on so-called 'gap bands' to fix the problem, but said they were so uncomfortable she had to stop using them.

"They were cutting into my gums. It was super painful," she said.

Experts said gap bands are considered one of the most dangerous of the internet quick fixes. They can cause tooth loss and ongoing dental problems.

"A tooth is shaped like an ice cream cone. That rubber band, as it goes up the teeth, it pulls that tooth out of the bone," Dr. McCamish said.

Hicks said she is learning to live with the space between her teeth.

"I have a love-hate relationship with this gap," she said.

Doctors agreed that the internet is no substitute for a dental professional.

"We are dealing with a medical procedure. We are dealing with how a person is going to be for a lifetime. This is not today and tomorrow, this is forever," Dr. McCamish said.

An orthodontist can also spot untreated cavities or underlying gum infections before any teeth strengthening is done.

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