For a short while this last month I thought it would be really fun to have a removable set of braces. Why, you may ask... I'm sure I can come up with many reasons I'll need a set of braces on-the-go in the future. There's Halloween (nerd costume?), fitting in with my patients (so relevant to my career), hitting up a local middle school dance, oh and April was around the corner... and I love a good innocent prank!
As this April Fools comes to a close, I am still shocked that I tricked my ENTIRE family and almost all of my friends (except for the ones who know me too well) into thinking I gave myself braces by sharing this exceptionally dorky photo of myself:
I could actually convince myself that I had braces with this pic! So, here's the step-by-step process on how to make yourself a fake pair of braces!
Step 1: Prep-work
So you first have to get a model of your teeth - check out my post on DIY fangs as a review on getting an impression/model. I used a very flexible wire (014 NiTi, to be exact) to tie in the brackets for each tooth. Unexpectedly, this was the hardest part: very taxing on your hand/forearm muscles. It's not easy to tie brackets onto a tiny freeform wire, let's leave it at that! I will admit I initially glued the brackets onto the model, hoping that I could tie the wire in in a traditional sense, but the brackets immediately popped off once pressure was applied to them. Superglue may work, but I was worried that the brackets may adhere "too" tightly to the model (you'll see why this matters later).
Once the brackets are tied onto the wire, I used dental adhesive on each tooth and set the wire down onto the model, doing my best to center the brackets on each tooth. Using a flexible wire is key, especially if your teeth are not perfectly straight. But the flexibility is what makes this part so challenging, as well. But it was worth it.
Step 2: Braces and Plaster Model are ready to go
Did I pick pretty colors? I feel like you can't go wrong with shades of blue...
Here we are once the brackets are glued onto the plaster model of your teeth. Basically the curing light solidifies the glue, and the wire/braces complex is being lightly held to the model. If your teeth aren't perfectly straight, you may need to press the brackets onto the plaster while curing. That's why we use a flexible wire. The glue is designed for teeth, not plaster, which is why it's not a strong bind. But this will be important for later on so we can separate the braces from the plaster.
Step 3: Plastic Vacuum-Form
So most of the hard work is done (phew!). Give yourself a pat on the back. You may be confused right now and wondering why the braces were glued to the plaster cast, if they need to be worn in your mouth.
Similarly to the fangs I made in October, we need to make a plastic vacuum-form suck down over the model. Basically a thin sheet of plastic is melted and the negative pressure wraps it tightly around the model (and the braces). Boom! This is just what we want. The braces and wire will create an undercut which mechanically locks them into the clear plastic. So now you have a custom-fitting clear mold of your teeth with the braces embedded in the exact location of where they need to go, as if they were actually in your mouth!
We're almost done... just one more thing left to do before you can enjoy your dorkiest new (fake?) attribute.
Step 4: Trimming the Plastic
Here we are, this looks pretty legit now right?
Last step! Cutting out the plastic is a bit of a pain and can also be tedious to be completely honest. You can cut it out literally with a sharp scissor or you may use a dental bur/drill to cut it out. Using the drill is definitely a lot faster, but you need to have a steady hand.
When trimming, you should follow your anatomy: cut the plastic so that the plastic rests slightly over the margins of the teeth and then make sure the edges are smooth. You don't want to cut yourself in your mouth when you are actually wearing this thing. Unless you're going for a vampire braces look? That may have to be my next project...!
From here we are good to go! Your braces are ready to be worn out and about. Removable fake braces for all, anytime and anywhere :-)
A Step-by-Step Recap: