Ranging from home repairs to colorful manicures, the Do-It-Yourself trend has fully made its way off Pinterest and into the average American home. And, apparently, it’s already taking over the dental industry.
That’s right — DIY dentistry is now a trend.
For example: just a couple weeks ago, a boy named Anton Androshchuk posted a video on YouTube of himself and his pet parakeet. The short video starts out normally, but then Anton opens his mouth and allows the bird to pull out one of his teeth. According to Fox News, the parakeet has now successfully performed five tooth-pullings on Anton.
It takes about 30 seconds and a bit of persistence on the bird’s part; even though Anton doesn’t hint that it hurts at all (likely because the tooth was a baby tooth and was ready to fall out anyway), the cameraman’s reaction sums up the general feeling well: “That’s disgusting.”
If you keep perusing YouTube, you’ll find a plethora of DIY dental videos — perhaps none as interesting as a parakeet dentist — that provide instructions on how to fix certain dental problems that would normally require orthodonture (or, at the very least, professional dental help).
The concept of DIY dentistry doesn’t have to be dangerous; it can be as simple as using at-home whitening strips rather than paying for a professional treatment. But as CBS News has noted, the most popular and recent videos on DIY dentistry are much more invasive: using simple items like elastic bands and metal wires, people are trying to straighten their teeth at home, and without the oversight of a dentist.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this form of DIY dentistry has caused some pretty serious damage, and dentists are warning their patients to abstain from it.
But perhaps the popularity of DIY dentistry has a very real — and very preventable — cause: the cost of dental services today means that countless people all over the world are not able to see a dentist when they need to.
In the U.S., much of the blame has fallen on Obamacare and private insurance companies alike. Children must be insured for dental work, until the age of 19, but most insurance companies charge exorbitant rates that make adults refuse to insure themselves.
Exact national numbers on dental costs are hard to find, but the Los Angeles Times states that many treatments, like braces and dental implants, can cause thousands of dollars per patient.
To be fair, the situation isn’t necessarily better in countries that have government-funded healthcare. In Canada, for example, people only pay about $12 billion annually on dental services, but because a large portion of the population lives in remote areas, many Canadians can’t even find a dentist when they need care.
It’s hard to determine who should be held accountable for affordable dental care, but unless a solution is found soon, it’s very possible that Anton’s parakeet could find himself a new career.