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Diatribe: Fake Braces As Fashion.

01/04/2013

FakeBracesWhen I was a very young child, the only children I knew that wore braces were “the rich kids”.  The field of cosmetic dentistry had not yet come to be and the cost of orthodontia was outrageous.  Many of my peers had a crooked tooth or something else that would be “corrected” today.  Most insurance companies didn’t cover the cost of braces for children and adults would never consider the possibility of adjusting their smile.  Kids with braces were the exception, not the norm, and were sometimes bullied and called names like “metal mouth”.

My how times have changed.

Teens in Southeast Asia are wearing fake braces all in the name of style.  Teens in Thailand, Indonesia and China are buying black market braces for about one hundred dollars.  While this certainly seems odd to Americans, for whom braces represent the awkwardness of adolescence, the metal and tiny rubber band accessories have become a bit of a status symbol in the far East where dental care remains a costly luxury.

Asian teens can purchase non-medical fashion braces in local beauty salons.  They can even buy cheaper pairs, which they can apply at home, from open-air stalls in local markets and, of course, on the internet.  Apparently, these fake braces come in nearly every color and in cartoonish themes like Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.  There are several tutorial videos on YouTube that explain how to put them on your own teeth!

This fad is not without risks.  Doctor-approved braces can sometimes pose health risks so it’s safe to assume that braces bought at the mall and installed at a bathroom mirror could be outright dangerous.  Officials have warned that the wires on some of the fake braces may contain lead.  The metal brackets can also cause sores on the gums and inside the mouth.  At least two deaths in Thailand have been linked to the fashion trend.  In one instance a seventeen-year-old reportedly contracted a thyroid infection from a poorly made pair of braces and her condition quickly progressed to fatal heart failure.  In Thailand the production and sale of these braces is now punishable by up to six months in prison!

In my neighborhood, when they want to sport a status symbol, the kids wear shirts with a little moose on the chest that they get from Abercrombie or with a seagull from Hollister.  I certainly hope they don’t make the installation of their own braces a fad in the States.  We don’t need another kiosk at the mall!

I suppose parents in Asia see some of the things that American teens wear and think they must be crazy, too.

What do you think about fake braces?

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9 Comments
  1. I think fake braces are just another way for a savvy marketing firm, and umpteen numbers of businesses to make a profit while offering, really, nothing.
    I try to live by a simple credo: To want the things I have, not have the things I want.
    Who really needs fake braces?

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    • I suppose fake braces aren’t as permanently disfiguring as ear gauges or tattoos and can be removed like some of the unusual piercings that we see once these kids mature. SOMEONE is certainly making a lot of money from the fad.

      I love your credo!

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  2. Having been called four-eyes for most of my young life, I still am amazed how kids want “personality” glasses. As for the braces, as long as they are made from safe materials, then so what? Better then gold capped teeth!

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  3. I was one of the unfortunate children who had to wear braces, as did my sister. My parents could not afford orthodontia so we had to go through rigorous testing to get accepted to the University of Manitoba Dental School for students to learn on our teeth. Luckily for both of us we had horribly deformed smiles & both got in. Because I was congenitally missing 2 teeth in my lower jaw, I had to have 2 teeth pulled from my top jaw before we could start anything to make room for the other teeth. I remember the days when my wires were tightened & I couldn’t eat anything but scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes & milkshakes for days because my mouth was so painful I couldn’t eat anything else! I also remember when the braces first went on & I had to pack them with paraffin to keep the insides of my mouth from bleeding. In the end I had a nice smile for a couple of years, then one of my front teeth started crossing in front of the other & the only way they could fix it was to put a gold splint between my 2 front teeth. No thanks! I’ll keep my slightly crooked smile.

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  4. It reminds of the time people bought eyeglasses with clear lenses to make themselves look smarter. I am scared to ask what may come next.Thanks for sharing, BTG

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  5. That’s just bizarre.

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  6. I’ve never heard of this before. I wore braces (and was tormented) for years. i would have given anything to be able to NOT wear them. This makes about as much sense as wearing colored and decorative contact lenses when a person doesn’t need to have his/her vision corrected.

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