TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When Dr. Clayton McEntire first saw the do-it-yourself homemade braces video on YouTube, he had a reaction that he remembers well and describes in one word.
“Scared,” he said with a chuckle, shaking his head. “It’s a fearful thing, that all the things I’ve learned over the last 15 years, you can go home and try to do yourself.”
The Tampa Bay orthodontist couldn’t believe it – people were actually trying out the terrifying trend of making their own braces by binding their teeth with hair bands and rubber bands.
“You can absolutely find everything you want on the internet, but it’s not always good,” Dr. McEntire told 8 On Your Side. “Most of the time, it’s just a space. They’re trying to close a space.”
But, that one dangerous dental deed could do all kinds of damage, including losing teeth altogether.
Dr. McEntire describes how it can happen. “It could go all the way up to the root, and those teeth could get so mobile, that those teeth could come all the way out,” he said.
“I became an orthodontist because I wanted to help young people. [Getting braces] is a transformation, what they go through. We get to be a part of that transition, to see someone go through a rite of passage.”
What drives a person to try out a trend that looks painful and risky?
Dr. McEntire explained just how vital a smile can be. “I think the first thing, people want a dazzling smile, so they can increase their confidence, feel good about themselves. I mean, that’s probably the drive for parents to bring their kids in. They want their kids to have every opportunity they have in their life.”
But, sometimes in a crazy quest for perfection, the internet can intervene and inspire some wacky ideas that turn out to be damaging and dangerous.
It all started in 2015, with a YouTube video that quickly became a viral sensation. The title of the video, posted by Shalom DeSota, was “Cheap easy braces!! Without going to the dentist!!!!!”
We contacted Shalom, who gave us permission to use the video as part of our 8 on Your Side story.
It shows the teenager manipulating her teeth in an effort to straighten them. She is heard saying, “I wanted to get braces, but of course, braces are really expensive nowadays. Today, I’m just going to teach you how to make some homemade braces.”
The video garnered the attention of millions.
There were countless people who tried it. Dr. McEntire explained how one of them was his own patient.
“I just basically begged him not to do that ever again.”
There’s a reason why you don’t want to try this, said the orthodontist. He told 8 On Your Side that people can bind a tooth, and it will definitely move. But, the effect isn’t permanent. In fact, you’ll most likely be moving them in the wrong direction.
“Anybody can put a rubber band on their tooth or they can even, if they pushed long enough on a tooth, it would move. If you throw your bite off, you’re increasing your chances of having joint problems, headaches.”
There’s also the possibility of infection and periodontal disease.
And, of course, the worst case scenario would be – losing a tooth.
Dr. McEntire encourages anyone with questions to seek the answers from a professional.
“Most orthodontists will do a consultation for free. We want them to come in and ask. A smile, to us, is extremely important,” he told us. He described what people are doing as, “naive self-care.”
He added, “There’s always going to be somebody who’s going to coming up with another way to do it and they’re famous on YouTube. Absolutely don’t do it yourself.”
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