Many of us can remember a time when hearing that you needed braces was one of the worst pieces of news that a child could receive. But, times have changed and braces are now considered to be cool — so much so that kids around the world are making and wearing fake braces just to fit in. “DIY Braces” is a dangerous and, in some cases, deadly trend that parents need to be aware of.
DIY Braces is a Growing Fad
Wearing fake braces started in Asia and is now spreading across the globe to the U.S. Braces became known as a status symbol in China, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries around 2012.
Because braces cost thousands of dollars, they are increasingly seen as a status symbol for the wealthy. Middle school students that want braces resort to making their own so they fit in. Even those with straight teeth that would not otherwise require braces are jumping on the bandwagon.
Videos and articles on how to make braces out of paper clips, beads, and glue are easily found online. Other methods call for rubber bands and earring backs that claim to look closer to the real thing because they snap into place.
Yes, that’s right, teens are voluntarily applying these homemade braces to their teeth. Companies are also cashing in on the trend selling DIY braces kits for around $100. This provides a more affordable alternative to the real thing that can seem appealing to a teen.
Long-Term Damage from At-Home Braces
What may seem like a good idea can cause permanent damage and even death. The American Association of Orthodontics issued a warning against fake braces in 2014, including a graphic image to show just how much damage they can cause.
Two teens in Thailand died from complications as a result of fake braces, and others have reported choking while trying to apply beads or other items used as brackets. The metal used in paper clips and other materials can be toxic if left in the mouth for extended periods of time.
Beyond choking or other medical issues, the snapping of handmade braces can crack enamel and result in the need for a crown or root canal.
Anything other than real braces applied by a trained orthodontist can cause permanent damage to a child’s teeth. Orthodontists carefully control which way teeth move when applying braces, something that handmade counterparts do not.
DIY braces can also lead to infected gums which can lead to the need for dental extractions. What starts out as a way to look cool can actually lead to embarrassment from missing teeth.
What You Can Do As a Parent
If your child or someone you know starts talking about wanting braces when they don’t need or can’t afford them, talk to them immediately about the dangers of DIY alternatives. The image from the American Association of Orthodontics might be enough to change someone’s mind!
Reiterate that the feeling of acceptance gained from wearing fake braces is not worth the longterm harm they can cause. In a few months, their friends will have moved on to something else but mouth damage can be permanent.
If your child is insistent on the need for braces then we encourage you to book a free consultation. Our team at Midwest Orthodontics will provide you and your child with an honest opinion. If braces or other orthodontic treatment is not needed and you are concerned about your child trying DIY braces, we are happy to discuss the dangers of this with you and your child.
And, of course, if you see braces on your child’s teeth that were not put there by an orthodontist, contact us immediately to have them removed and perform an exam to make sure teeth were not damaged during the installation process.
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