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Teeth Gap Bands: What Are They and Are They Safe?

By Kaelyn Johnson, MPH, RD
Teeth gap bands are typically orthodontic devices that are being used in an inappropriate manner. They can have serious, dangerous consequences for your dental health.

If you’re looking into your options for fixing teeth gaps, you might be tempted to use something called a teeth gap band. But doing so could create costly problems and even permanent dental damage. It’s a much better choice to opt for a safe, professional method.

What Are Teeth Gap Bands?

“Gap bands are nothing more than rubber bands used with conventional orthodontics to correct a dental bite. However, its purpose in this regard is not to close spaces but rather to remove teeth from patients who are not good candidates for a conventional extraction,” Charles White, DDS, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

You might see devices that purport to be orthodontic teeth bands you can use at home to close gaps between your teeth. However, these items are not FDA-approved for use in such a manner. 

Additionally, some online sources might recommend that you buy rubber bands typically used for hair and wrap them around two teeth that have a gap between them. This dangerous trend of do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry has been growing due to viral videos that are not generated or endorsed by dental professionals. 

Are Teeth Gap Bands Safe?

“It is not safe to use them. There are multiple cases of patients whose gap bands rolled up along their tooth roots, bringing unhealthy bacteria into their gums and putting pressure on the roots," Paul Springs, DMD, a prosthodontist at Dr. Mondshine & Associates, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

According to Springs, the unhealthy bacteria introduced to the gums and teeth can cause inflammation, which can lead to you losing teeth.

A 2018 case report published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics illustrates the damage that teeth gap bands can cause. In this case, researchers observed that a 9-year-old boy developed acute periodontitis (i.e., gum disease) after using an elastic gap band to try to close a gap in between his teeth. 

The gap band migrated upwards on his teeth—causing serious damage to his gum tissue. Although his doctors tried to save his teeth, they ultimately had to permanently extract them. 

Additionally, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) does not recommend using teeth gap bands to close gaps in your teeth at home—noting that this unsupervised, quick-fix approach can actually create more expensive and serious problems. Instead, the AAO encourages seeking help from a qualified dental professional. 

Other Ways to Fix Gap Teeth

There are multiple safe ways to fix gaps in your teeth, including:

  • Braces. There are many types of braces besides the traditional wire and bracket ones. Other braces options include ceramic (teeth colored) braces and lingual (behind the teeth) braces. A professional orthodontist will install and periodically adjust your braces for the entire duration of your treatment. 
  • Dental alignersClear dental aligners are customized trays that you wear directly on top of your teeth. They can close small gaps between teeth. A professional provider can send aligners directly to your home and provide licensed orthodontic or dental supervision through teledentistry. 

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