The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Braces
2015 l 2:00 pm

You may or may not have heard about the recent fad known as do-it-yourself braces. The “Do-It-Yourself Braces” trend started with a YouTube video by Shalom DeSota in 2012.

To give the teenager credit, all she did was make an honest report of a self-experiment she attempted, using rubber band material to reduce the gap between her teeth. Her method was to take a broken rubber band, place it around the two front teeth, and tie it tightly enough to hold it in place. She explained that she had chosen to do this, because her family was too poor to be able to afford braces for her.

Shalom’s tooth-gap problem was not complex. She used rubber bands that were not too strong. In fact, she said the rubber bands usually broke daily. She was careful to place the rubber band so it did not damage the teeth. While enduring tooth pain as the teeth moved, she succeeded in closing the gap.

As with any viral trend, copycat videos sprang up, which led to all kinds of teenage experimentation and dangerous attempts to use do-it-yourself braces, along with other unorthodox methods to try to straighten or move teeth.

On top of the radical and dangerous experimentation, unscrupulous vendors started selling do-it-yourself braces as kits on the Internet. There is nothing inherently illegal about selling these kits for do-it-yourself braces. Any risks in using them are the responsibility of the users. However, that is like saying a person can, if they want, take a hammer and hit themselves in the mouth with it.

Let’s face it, most teenagers can be easily convinced to try anything that seems “cool,” no matter how stupid and truly dangerous it really is. This is a normal process of growing up. Hopefully, they survive this period without great harm and do not have permanent damage to deal with for the rest of their lives.

Danger of Do-It-Yourself Braces

Yahoo Health noted that after enough people tried the misguided amateur attempts using do-it-yourself braces, huge disfiguring disasters occurred including:

  1. Mouth and gums became infected.
  2. Teeth became permanently damaged.
  3. Teeth died from having the blood supply cut off.
  4. Teeth fell out.

Complex conditions of misaligned teeth cannot be repaired using faulty techniques of do-it-yourself braces. In fact, it is more likely that severe damage is done. There are plenty of ghastly photos of such disasters on the Internet that show these “fails,” including one showing a young man losing his front teeth.

Educating Teenagers on the Dangers of DIY Braces

Today reported that the American Association of Orthodontists became so concerned about the trend of  Do-It-Yourself braces causing tremendous harm to teenagers, that they created a public service announcement video about the dangers. This made big news and was widely reported on the Internet.

As of August 2015 the American Association of Orthodontists PSA about the risks of DIY braces, has just over 500 views on YouTube. It is especially hard to find the PSA, which has the title on YouTube of “The ExpertSmile PSA TV 60 AAO 150160H 60sec Match Source High bitrate.” The video does not come up at all when searching for “DIY braces” on YouTube.

The PSA is made for television broadcast. Teenagers watch television a lot, but also get plenty of information from the Internet and are especially influenced by social media.

The issue is so important and the dangers so real, that parents need to add this worry to the” top-ten concerns list” along with drugs, alcohol, and sex/pregnancy. Parents owe it to their kids to check on what they may be doing to their teeth and have an open discussion about it.

How Low Income Families Can Afford Braces

Professionally installed braces are worth what they cost; however, they are expensive. Angie’s List says the average cost for braces is $4,937 for those without any dental coverage and about $1,000 less for those with a dental insurance policy. That is a huge amount of money for many people in the United States, especially if they have more than one child needing braces.

One alternative is for lower-income families to contact a dental school. They have low or no-cost programs where qualified orthodontists supervise dental students learning how to do the work properly. The results are usually quite good and certainly more affordable.

When it comes to a big new problem, such as the dangers of do-it-yourself braces, the best approach is to work hard to get accurate information more widely known about the serious complications that might occur.