Lilian Min
August 12, 2015 3:07 pm

There’s so much to love about the DIY movement: It’s easily as much about the fun of the process of DIYing as it is the actual results of your crafty creations. But some things are definitely, “cannot stress this enough,” best left to the professionals. Like, say, braces.

As anybody who’s ever had a mouth full of metal and rubber bands can attest, braces are that unholy combination of expensive and terrible, but the reason countless people have gone through the grueling, years-long process of orthodontist visits, spontaneous mouth bleeding, and that weird-flavored doughy thing they put in your mouth to make a mold is because at the end, they work. Those little metal brackets and bands (or for those of you lucky to get Invisalign, plastic teeth covers) actually move your teeth around, a process that’s a feat of modern body engineering.

Of course, the cost of braces is a huge factor in who can or can’t get “perfect” straight teeth, which is why some people are now touting “DIY braces,” which consists of using just elastics placed around sets of teeth. While the movement isn’t as mainstream as DIY face masks or that ubiquitous, nebulous category of “life hacks,” DIY braces are their own mini-movement on YouTube, where you’ll find teenage girls, those mavens of sometimes questionable beauty advice, exclaiming how they spent $5 on cheap elastics and totally closed huge tooth gaps and realigned crooked teeth, all without asking their parents to spend time and money getting the job done professionally.

Now, while some of the results might look surface-level alright, as with the case of Jamila Garza and her 44-day elastics regime, every orthodontist worth their salt would and will immediately caution against the process. The reason braces take so damn long to “work” is because like most things about the human body, you cannot just force something to “correct” itself immediately, like with weight loss, muscle building, and getting rid of wrinkles. The secret ingredient to most beauty procedures is simply time, and by neglecting that component, you could be doing irreversible damage to, in this case, your teeth.

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As one orthodontist interviewed by ABC News puts it, “If teeth are moved too quickly, the roots of teeth can resorb,” which is a fancy way of saying THE BASES OF YOUR TEETH MIGHT DISSOLVE aka you’ll have “straight” teeth that’ll bleed and snap and fall out which is so horrific that I’m getting shudders just typing this. Your teeth will move quickly, sure, but that’ll be because they’re literally being pulled out of your gums willy nilly, and your mouth won’t be able to keep up with the pace of their movement. As one HG editor put it, it’s akin to breaking your own nose to “reshape” it, and while DIY braces might seem less extreme, the side effects of the procedure are definitely still that intense.

In a world where the pressure to conform to a specific, narrow standard of beauty is overwhelming and coming at teens, especially teen girls, relentlessly, we understand that if your parents don’t want to or can’t hand over the cash for braces, that’s small comfort for the kind of body-centric bullying that so many kids are subjected to. DIY braces promise to be the remedy of your woes, but the truth is that they’re promising a fast present reward and an uncertain health future. What if you do break or lose a tooth? What happens when your wisdom teeth start coming in?

Braces are, in the end, a cosmetic treatment, and like most things that can be “solved” by those treatments, there’s oftentimes nothing inherently wrong or bad about the thing they’re trying to correct — even in places like the beauty and modeling industries. We know that’s small comfort against bullying or self-perception, but trust us: Don’t jeopardize your health for other peoples’ tacit approval or acceptance. There is a place for you out there, crooked teeth and all.

Related reading:

I tried out three DIY hair treatments, and here’s what happened

Multimasking is the newest beauty trend that takes a contouring approach to healthy skin

(Image via iStock.)

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