DIY Braces as a Fashion Statement? Here’s Why the Latest Trend Is a Bad Idea

DIY Braces as a Fashion Statement? Here’s Why the Latest Trend Is a Bad Idea featured image
Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty Images

If you’ve ever had braces, it can seem like certified lunacy to see fake DIY braces going viral. Who wants to look like they’ve got a mouth full of hardware? Just like all trends, we’re seeing statement metal mouths gaining traction in a blast to our Y2K pasts. And kids these days will make a trend out of anything—even braces.

But how safe is it to take kitchen scissors and glue to your own teeth? If you thought: it isn’t…your dentist agrees.

Featured Experts

  • Joe Kravitz, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in Rockville, MD
  • Joseph Field, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in Los Altos, CA
  • Sonya Wintzell, DMD is a cosmetic dentist based in Huntsville, AL

DIY Braces for Fashion

“This is a terrible idea,” says Rockville, MD cosmetic dentist, Joe Kravitz, DDS. “I’m not a fan and they could easily cause more harm than good.”

In theory, this trend isn’t about trying to correct your bite or straighten your smile. They’re explicitly a fashion statement, like a grill. And there are custom-built products and even a WikiHow that walks you through making a slip-on temporary grill that looks like metal braces for costumes or cosplays. And even those come with serious warnings, including not wearing them for too long, not using any lead-based products and being careful of potential tooth damage.

But recently, a viral video has ignited a new round of fake DIY braces. And yes, it involves glue and kitchen scissors.

“I get around 15 to 20 direct messages from people a day, asking me where they can get them,” Chelsey Ochulo, 18, and original poster told the Wall Street Journal.

Dentists Warn of Serious, Toxic Problems

“We use adhesives that are designed to work with the teeth and be in the environment of the mouth,” says Los Altos cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS. “Glue does not belong in your mouth—please do not do this. Aside from damage to the enamel and the gums, glue can be very toxic.”

According to the Missouri Poison Center, products like super glue usually hold a medium risk and includes a choking risk. The actual glue bonds themselves also won’t hold up in the mouth for very long. “If someone has gotten superglue into the mouth, DO NOT try to pull off the glue,” the site explains. “Rinse the mouth out with water. If there is glue stuck inside the mouth, vegetable oil or peanut butter can help soften the glue inside the oral cavity. If there is any glue stuck to the teeth or tongue, it will not be stuck for very long. The bond is loosened due to the warm, moist environment of the mouth.”

“I’ve had patients who have tried to superglue broken crowns back in and it is just not a good idea,” Dr. Field says. “You’re likely to cause more problems.”

Another serious cause for concern with this trend is tooth damage and movement. “You can cause movement without trying to with any homemade fashion device,” Dr. Field says. “And that is a huge problem.”

And any movement not done with care by a professional is a bad idea. “There is a reason orthodontists have an additional two to three years of training past dental school,” says cosmetic dentist Sonya Wintzell, DMD. “Moving teeth is a difficult and delicate biological process and should only be treated and monitored through someone who fully understands the process.”

DIY Braces: An At-Home Dental Disaster

Taking the reigns on your dental care is almost never a good idea. “I’ve seen patients try a lot of at-home straightening methods,” Dr. Wintzell says. “Including trying to replicate closing a gap using rubber bands, based on viral videos. One patient used a wire wrap around his teeth. This led to gum surgery as that wire caused infection and gum loss around the teeth.”

Wearing even fashion braces for any significant amount of time can easily lead to these same issues. “I see direct enamel damage, gum loss, infection, and maybe even tooth breakage as a consequence of doing something like this,” Dr. Field says.

“DIY braces can also cause the tooth to move too quickly, causing tooth resorption, which is not reversible and leads to tooth loss,” Dr. Wintzell says. “We also see issues like gum disease, infection and jaw issues as a result of DIY braces.”

What Goes Around Comes Around

Just like other Y2K and 90s fashion are coming back, Dr. Field says he’s been seeing an uptick in visible cosmetic dental work.

“The grill is coming back,” he explains. “And it’s not uncommon to get requests for a single gold tooth or an embedded gem. Done by a professional, none of those have negative consequences.”

Metal braces being a trend is still a bit surprising, though. “We’ve been moving away from obvious dental hardware for so long that a lot of professionals have reduced their stock of metal braces and carry almost exclusively clear aligners,” Dr. Field says. “It’s perfectly possible that you could go in and ask for metal braces only to be told that office no longer does them or needs to order the supplies.”

So there’s a chance that demand will outweigh supply in some cases, at least in the short term. But that all depends on how long-lived fake DIY braces are going to be.

Related Posts

Find a Doctor

Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you

Give the Gift of Luxury

NewBeauty uses cookies for various reasons, including to analyze and improve its content and advertising. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more about how we use this data. By continuing to use this site, you agree to these policies.