Before my daughter got braces, she totally wanted them. And in sixth grade, her dream finally came true—a mouth full of metal! Of course, once that hardware was firmly fixed to her teeth, she only wanted to know when it could come off.
"Soon," I told her at least once a week.
It would be three long years before she finally got to 86 those suckers—a lifetime in tweendom. And that's one of the motives (along with saving money) behind the horrifying crop of tutorials over on YouTube that feature teenage girls DIY-ing their own sets of braces with things like dental floss, rubberbands, and hair elastics to close up gaps and realign crooked teeth.
I so wish I was joking. But check it out, guys:
This DIY braces video has more than a million views:
And so does this one:
These clips may make MacGuyering up a brace face look cheap, fast, and easy, but experts say it's actually really dangerous.
"In one video I saw, [a girl] used a paper clip and super glue," Dr. Guy Deyton told ABC 13. "I am so horrified and fearful that they are going to do harm to themselves."
So, apparently, is the American Journal of Orthodontics, which has issued a public service warning about the trend. Concerned dentists and orthodontists are also intent on spreading awareness. And a recent blog post on the Straight Teeth Direct website offered seven essential reasons why the DIY route should be a serious non-starter, including the fact that makeshift braces can cause pain, infection, and damage to your teeth and gums—not to mention the emotional trauma that comes from screwing up your smile and needing expensive dentistry to fix it.
Which means at the end of the day, you're not really saving money after all. Look, we get that it can be embarrassing to live with not-so-perfect teeth—particularly for tweens and teens at the height of insecurity. But it's far better to wait to have your chompers properly corrected than risk damaging your teeth and gums for good. So please, kids, don't try this one at home.