Trendy Thai 'Fashion Braces' Can Be Deadly

Filed under: In The News

Thai pop singer "Earn The Star" wears braces, which have become trendy in her homeland. Credit: GMM / Grammy

Brace Face. Tin Grin. Metal Mouth. Those terms might hurt the feelings of some kids, but in Thailand, where it's actually cool to wear braces, they're compliments for trendy teens.

The problem with that, according to a story on the Global Post Web site, is that despite more than five years of warnings from Thailand's Ministry of Public Health and two teenage deaths last year, some Thai girls are still sporting "fashion braces."

What's happening, the site reports, is that kids who can't afford to go to the dentist are picking up braces that come in a wide array of colors and with changeable dental bands at flea markets and living rooms "by entrepreneurs with mail-order dental supplies. Though crudely applied, the braces appear genuine."

The amateur fashion braces ($24 per row of teeth, $45 for a set) can lead to blood poisoning, infected dental tools, nerve damage and swallowing dislodged fittings,Thailand's Dental Council warns, according to the Global Post.

"We just think they're cute. Nice and cute!" Supapich Konkayan, 22, who says her purple braces are real, tells the site. "Some of us have real dental problems. And for the others it's just, well, fashion."

Fashion, however, has had fatal consequences, the site reports: A 17-year-old Thai girl died last August after amateur braces left her with an infected thyroid, which led to heart failure. And an open-air, illegal braces stall was connected to a 14-year-old girl's death, the site says.

"Teenagers shouldn't be deciding whether to get fashion braces, for they only think of what's hip," states a Thailand Dental Council report cited in the story. "All this reflects that Thai society hasn't yet developed into a wise society. It's a society takes advantage of the ignorance of teenagers."

Related: Mouth or Dental Infection

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.