Dangers of “do it yourself braces;” teens take up bizarre trend

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s a new trend in the ‘do-it-yourself’ movement. But, now orthodontists are putting parents on high-alert. The American Association of Orthodontists is so distressed by the idea,they are putting out a warning video about the dangers of teens trying to straighten their own teeth.

Shalom DeSota is just one of the dozens of people, mainly teens, who claim to have closed her tooth gap using a few dollars worth of hair elastics.  The promise is this: “painful but cheap.” The video has garnered hundreds of comments and hundreds of thousand of views online.

She said in her YouTube video, “Its going to hurt, especially the first few days, it’s going to hurt really bad. You’re going to want to give up but don’t because it’s totally worth it in the end.”

Dr. Paul Ziarnowski is the Associate Chair of Orthodontics with University at Buffalo Dental.

He said, “With the advent of the internet now though, things go viral and go viral in a hurry.”

It’s unclear as to why the trend has recently picked up steam, Desota first posted this video in 2012. Now area orthodontists like Dr. Ziarnowski are on high alert.

GRAPHIC IMAGE | Click here to see potential damage caused by “do it yourself” braces. 

“It keeps on putting force up the root, up the root, up the root. It damages the bone around the tooth. It can actually cause a tooth to be lost. It can cause a tooth to erupt all the way out of its socket.”

He said trying to close a gap or straighten your own teeth can increase the risk for infection. That’s on top of serious damage to your teeth and gum, including long term harm. While DeSota was able to close her gap as promised in her video,  Orthodontists say it could have been a disaster.

“The movement will occur. Anybody can move a tooth. It’s just a matter of the positioning of it, and then you worry about the relapse afterwards.”

DeSota said at the time she posted the video, her family couldn’t afford health care. Braces can be pricey: They can run thousands of dollars for full treatment. Dr. Ziarnowski said the risks outweighs the benefits.

“It’s not a terminal bad bite, they’re not going to die from it but they could cause harm if they decided to take care of it on their own,” he said. “I would tell the kids, ‘Hey look: ask for Christmas to go see the Orthodontist, or go see the Orthodontist for a no-fee consultation.’ I think that would do wonders for the kid, and for the parents to understand it might not be as difficult and as expensive as we thought it was going to be.”

This trend has become so popular, the American Journal of Orthodontics has issued a public service warning about it. You can find that warning at this page here. Dr. Ziornowski said teens see perfect teeth everywhere, which could encourage them to  do whatever it takes to look the same.

He said, “The Hollywood influence, the selfies, the Kardashians. Everything that’s out there, is putting pressure to make it both a science that we d,o but also an art that we do .”

Ziarnowski said he sees unbelievable things in his office everyday, but he’s hopeful DIY braces will soon be a thing of the past.

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