Orthodontic treatment is considered a sign of financial prosperity in many countries outside the U.S. For this reason, fake braces for kids are becoming popular in several parts of the world. Real braces can cost around $1,200 in Asia, so teens who want to appear wealthy and stylish are choosing to spend just $100 for imitations. But they take on certain risks by doing so. This is particularly true in Thailand, according to CBS News and the UK's Daily Mail, which report the government in that country has gone so far as to discuss punishing sellers, suppliers and importers with fines and prison sentences.
How Fake Braces Are Made
Fake braces are made from a piece of wire with brackets that are glued to the wearer's teeth. The wire is bent to fit the exterior of the teeth and then clipped around the two back molars for support. The braces support multicolored rubber bands, and the "brackets" are often small plastic or metal shapes fashioned after Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse icons. Unlike real braces, these are fitted personally by the wearer, by local beauty salons and by unauthorized street vendors.
Risks to the Wearer
Investing in fake braces for kids carries a significant number of health and safety challenges, not only because of the materials used, but also because they aren't fitted by dental professionals. According to CBS News, a Thai government official listed the following as major risks:
- During the fitting, the braces can slip into the wearer's throat and cause choking.
- The metals used in the braces contain lead, which is toxic to the wearer's system.
- Fake braces may also lead to mouth sores that can become infected, and the glue used to attach the brackets to the teeth can cause discoloration and tooth decay.
Alternatives for a Beautiful Smile
Orthodontic treatment can be important for a child's oral development. If your child needs (not wants) braces, you should explore professional orthodontic treatment that you can afford and that your child can benefit from. Braces, as well as the correct oral care procedures, can help produce a clean and healthy mouth with strong teeth. A good oral hygiene routine includes twice-daily brushing and flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash that kills germs for up to 12 hours. Products such as Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ Mouthwash freshen breath and help to remove stains from the surfaces of your teeth. This item also offers WhiteSeal® technology, which helps prevent new stains from developing.
A dental professional will be able to advise you on alternative methods of improving the appearance of your teeth, such as:
- Wearing clear retainers to correct mild alignment problems.
- Cosmetic bonding, which uses tooth-colored material to close gaps and repair damaged teeth. This only takes one visit, so it isn't as expensive as wearing braces.
- Porcelain veneers, which can correct multiple problems.
Ultimately, it's best to avoid fake braces for kids and other fashion fads that imitate temporary appliances. Because these can cause damage to your teeth, as well as to your health, reinforce your family's oral care routine so your child won't need hazardous accessories to look sharp.