Metal braces are a necessary treatment to fix crooked and misaligned teeth. But for teenagers in South East Asia, this teeth straightening measure can serve strictly aesthetic purposes. The so-called ‘fashion braces’ are not only ‘trendy’, with colourful rubber studs and Hello Kitty designs, but also act as a status symbol.
According to Blue Sky Dentistry, the first and most fundamental step to getting braces is consulting a dentist. Without the active role of the dentist, no placement of braces should take palace. Unfortunately, many Asian teens are too concerned with popularity and social status to care about the rules.
Living without the stigma
Teens in America and Europe are complaining about their ‘ugly metal mouth’, while Asian teens are preening over theirs. This difference in attitude can stem from the lack of stereotypical stigma of braces in Asian countries. Celebrities riding on the wagon only serve to erase the stigma and increase the hype.
Other than being a fashion statement, braces are a symbol of wealth. In most Asian countries including Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, real braces and complete orthodontic treatment can cost around €1100. So, sporting a mouth full of metal is comparable to owning the latest iPhone model.
The positive outlook would’ve been helpful, except these fashionable black-market braces are useless at best, and deadly at worst.
The fatal dangers of fashion braces
The appeal of these do-it-yourself braces largely lies in the fact they’re inexpensive and highly accessible. Most of them can be bought online or even at shopping centres for under €100. Fashionable or not, the effect can be deadly.
The braces can cause sores on the gum, or can loosen and slide into the person’s throat. Some of them may even contain lead in the wires. Vice UK reported two deaths in Thailand have been linked to these faux braces, with one teenager suffering from heart failure.
The Government has repeatedly sent out a warning regarding the danger of DIY braces, but the dangerous trend shows no sign of slowing down. The trend has to stop, and it starts with parents and other adults leading the right example.