That wasn’t going to stop him, though.
The 24-year-old student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology spent some time looking longingly at photos of various clear aligners when he noticed that some of the lines on them were indicative of 3-D printing.
And it just so happens that Dudley is an expert with the three-dimensional printers. So, he got an idea.
“What is to stop someone who has access to a 3-D printer from making their own orthodontic aligners?” he told CNN Money.
So, that’s exactly what he did. The science student goes into great detail about the process on his blog, but basically he did research on the optimal spacing of teeth and created 12 different aligners that gradually moved his teeth to their new locations in his mouth.
“It was very obvious which tooth [the tray] was putting pressure on,” he said of putting in the first tray. “I was sort of worried about accumulated error, but that wasn’t the case so that was a pretty glorious moment.”
He’s still wearing the last aligner tray, but is happy with how his teeth look now.
“I feel like I can freely smile again,” he wrote on his blog. “That’s what’s most important.” The total cost? $60 for materials, compared with the $8,000-plus he would’ve spent at the dentist.
But don’t get any big ideas based on Dudley’s experience; there’s a reason why orthodontists and dentists go to school for so long, so it’s best to leave dental work to the pros.