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Doctor warns against dangerous braces trend: 'You wouldn't want DIY heart surgery'

Orthodontist advises people to leave it to experts

HOUSTON – To anyone seeking cheaper alternatives to traditional orthodontic braces: A dangerous do-it-yourself trend has emerged, leading to some disastrous consequences.

The web is abuzz with online tutorials showing people fashioning their own braces out of everyday household items, such as paper clips, fishing lines and hair ties.

Type in “DIY braces” and more than 200,000 videos pop up, many with thousands of clicks, all demonstrating cheap alternatives to a dental office visit.

“It’s just bad news,” orthodontist Dr. Tito Norris said. “It’s just dangerous.”

Citing the rubber bands orthodontists use, which exert a precise pressure, Tito cautioned the average consumer, saying hair bands can cause teeth “to become extruded or come out of the socket.”

Additionally, those bands can slide up under the gums, Tito said.

Now, the American Association of Orthodontics is renewing its consumer alert to warn about these videos, and the association posted its own video to counter the thousands of DIY tutorials on the web.

Most orthodontists do offer an initial no-obligation consultation for free, and there are affordable alternatives to traditional braces that can help straighten teeth, such as aligners and retainers.

“You wouldn’t want DIY heart surgery,” Tito said. “You wouldn’t want DIY orthopedics and you certainly don’t want DIY dentistry orthodontics.”