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Orthodontists warn about dangers of DIY braces

Kids sharing "simple fix" on social media.
Posted: 11:06 AM, Mar 16, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-16 18:22:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The California Association of Orthodontists is condemning the dangerous trend of "do it yourself" braces.

10News took a closer look at the horrors of the practice.

Youtube Videos show kids and teens demonstrating how to use rubber bands and hair looms to close gaps between their teeth.

The DIY trend—sweeping across social media.

“I see it.  I hear about it on Facebook groups.  It's quite scary,” said San Diego Orthodontist Melanie Wang.

Known as Dr. Melanie to her patients, she runs her own practice in 4S Ranch and says taking matters into your own hands is beyond risky.

“It looks so easy to them in their minds, but it's really like playing Russian roulette with your teeth,” Wang said.

She says she's never personally seen her patients have any success with DIY Orthodontics and says it almost always ends badly.

“They'll wake up in the morning and the rubber band's not there because it has now gone up and embedded into their gums and they can't get it out anymore.”

That can cause permanent damage--like tooth loss and a bill worth 10s of thousands of dollars.

“Something that they're trying to do to save money ends up costing them way more than if they had just gone to an orthodontist in the first place,” Wang said.

“I just feel really sad for the patient that this could have been prevented.”

And because teens are still growing, she says consequences are even more severe.

”You can't get those restorations done until you're older, so you actually have to wait.”

Doctor Melanie gets a lot of questions about DIY braces.  Her advice?  Leave the work to her and you'll walk away with a perfect smile.

“You should definitely stick to home base projects and not your teeth.”

The American Association of Orthodontists says people attempting to straighten their own teeth range in age from 8 to over 60.

Dr. Melanie says most orthodontists in the area offer free consultations.