If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

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By Dr. Stephanie McGannDMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

Buyer Beware, I heard my parents tell me that decades ago when I earned my first paycheck working as a part time lifeguard.  It was the mid 1970’s and I wanted a stereo. Yes I just dated myself. I listened to music before the ipod,earbuds and pandora.  I knew the sound of a needle skipping on a record and the horror of a cassette tape unraveling and filling my bedroom with a wildly tangled magnetic worm. Yes, I owned 8 track tapes too.  So there, I’ve been around the block a few (dozen) times.

Why does that matter? Well it matters because it seems experience and common sense have been crushed by crowd sourced often times fake opinions on social media.  And to make matters worse, people are routinely turning their back on common sense because they think they can save some money and if they see it online it must be true.  Remind you of anything?  The images of traveling salesmen selling snake oil, potions and cures in the 1800’s comes to mind.

This is not a rant, I’m going to back up some of what I have seen just this week in my own facebook feed with a tiny bit of educated opinion.

Do it yourself orthodontics, sounds like a great way to save money, just bite into some silly putty and get everything you need to make your smile beautiful in just a week or two.

Buyer beware, these companies make money on selling you the stuff that may or may not actually move your teeth. However, they have no control or concern over the outcome.  X-rays were not consulted so many unfortunate things could happen. I could spend an hour listing them but I’ll just hit the highlights.  If there is gum disease present teeth could be loosened and possibly lost. A tooth that has a crack or has decay could abscess and require root canal therapy.  TMJ problems could become more severe.  Most likely however the aligners won’t work. As dentists who do aligner orthodontics will tell you, it’s way more complicated than it looks.  Buyer Beware.

Do it yourself veneers.  I saw this on Facebook and nearly spit my coffee all over the computer. This product is not veneers, it’s mold it yourself Halloween teeth.  Nothing in dentistry is one size fits all.  This product will no doubt do more harm than good and the beautiful smile it promises is unlikely.  This too can be harmful, it can shift move or break teeth. If left in too long and not cleaned appropriately teeth can be destroyed underneath.

Do it yourself dentures. Amazon sells something called “Billy Bob’s comfort flex teeth”.  I probably don’t have to say more, but I will  To be fair, I have actually had patients come to my office with these. No you can’t eat with them and they don’t actually fit anyone.  These products exist because many hard-working Americans cannot afford any better.  Do it yourself denture repairs are hit or miss.  Super glue is not friendly to acrylic dentures and may make any future repairs impossible.

All of these products are just examples of a huge industry that preys on people’s vanity.  It’s not just in dentistry, most of us know that losing weight while we sleep is fake and the Prince of some unheard of country is not your distant relative. Yet, everyday people send their hard earned money off because they believe.

The point is simple, be a wise consumer. If it looks too good to be true it probably is.  And in the case of dentistry, Do the simple things every day like brushing, flossing and regular dental visits and you too can avoid the need for a Billy Bob smile.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and owns and practices at Rainbow Valley Dental, in Valley. She is a past President of the Chester/Delaware Dental Society and she is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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