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Why the fake braces trend may be dangerous for users

Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM  |  Updated Jan. 3, 2013 at 3:38 PM   |   Comments

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A fake braces trend that has taken Asia by storm may be harmful for people wearing them.

Unlike in the United States where having braces is associated with being uncool, in some parts of Asia being a 'metal mouth' is considered a symbol of wealth, status and style, Vice reported.

"The reasoning is fairly straightforward – genuine orthodontic braces are very expensive. In Bangkok, for example, a set of tinsel-teeth will cost you roughly £750, a substantial sum for a country with a GDP of $345 billion (the US had a GDP of $15.06 trillion in 2011). So all the kids want to wear these things, because anything worn by the young and rich is obviously super cute," the site reported.

The problem with the trend is that people are using non-orthopedic, do-it-yourself braces that saloons and open-air markets are selling as if they were clip-on earrings.

According to Vice the non-medical braces that have become increasingly popular in Thailand, Indonesia and China pose a health risk to its users for a variety of reasons ranging from the appearance of mouth sores and tooth decay (also caused by the professionally attached ones) to the presence of lead on some of the wires.

So far, the trend has cost the life of two Thai teens, a 17-year-old from Kohn Kaen who contracted a thyroid infection from a defective pair of fashion braces and whose condition eventually evolved to a a fatal heart failure, and a 14-year-old whose death was linked to a pair of illegally purchased braces.

Though many places in Thailand have made the production and sale of the fashion braces illegal and punishable with prison time, the product is still offered in black markets and encouraged by fashion braces blogs and DIY tutorials.

Other places such as Indonesia have yet to take action against the deadly trend, and the movement is also being followed by fashion-driven adults.

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