An increasing number of Asian teens are flocking to buy fake braces, which can have a dangerous impact on their health. Previously most popular in Thailand, the phony braces are gaining popularity in Indonesia and China as well.
In these Asian countries, wearing braces no longer carries the stereotypical stigma of the past. More recently, wearing braces has become a status symbol. Real braces, which can cost around $1,200 in Asia, have become a symbol of wealth and, with brightly colored rubber bands attached, have also become a fashion statement.
Celebrity endorsement has only increased the frenzy. As reported by Oddity Central, countless fashion braces blogs include pictures of Thai pop singer “Earn the star” and Indonesian teen idol “Andika Kangen” sporting the potentially dangerous fake braces.
The fake braces also appeal to teens because they are inexpensive and do not require medical application. Do-it-yourself kits can be purchased from the internet or even kiosks at shopping centers. Many of the kits are available for under $100.
Although the kits offer bright colors, teen-friendly prices, and easy application, they can lead to some serious health problems. Two deaths have already been blamed on the fake braces.
Both deaths have been blamed on poor application of the fake braces. They consist of many tiny pieces which can come loose and become lodged in the throat or other soft tissues. Additionally, studies have concluded that the metal pieces in some of the fake braces contain lead.
According to Vice.com, the Thailand government has halted the importation, production, and sale of the dangerous fake braces. The crime is punishable with up to six months in jail.
Indonesia, however, continues to allow the fake braces despite the dangers.
A video advertising the dangerous new fad can be viewed below.