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The Rise of Fashion Braces: Why You Should Avoid This New Trend

We’ve all heard of braces, the traditional metal brackets that create a healthy bite and great smile, but did you know that some people are getting braces just for fun? As shocking as it sounds, “fashion braces” are on the rise, with young people across the nation gluing faux braces to their teeth

While this may seem harmless, fashion braces can have serious consequences on your oral health and may even worsen your bite and teeth alignment. In this article, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) explores the dangers of do-it-yourself braces at home and offers safe alternatives to fake braces.

What are Fashion Braces?

Fashion braces, as their name implies, are fake orthodontic wires and brackets that look like real braces but have no functional use in aligning teeth and jaws. Individual retailers are selling DIY fashion braces kits online, which include the “brackets” and “wires” and a dental adhesive to hold the fake appliance to the teeth. In more extreme scenarios, customers are visiting the homes of unqualified and unlicensed individuals to have fake braces applied to their teeth, which the internet has termed “basement braces.”

Fashion braces are only the latest addition to the rising online trends, following tooth gems and non-prescription glasses. Fashion trend-chasers are racing to get their set. However, even if they only appear to be real, fashion braces can negatively impact your oral health, tooth alignment, and safety.

The Dangers of Fake Braces

For those looking to achieve the metallic grin past generations tried to avoid in middle school, fashion braces can be a significantly cheaper option than the real thing. It can seem easier, more convenient, and more cost-effective to buy a DIY kit online and glue braces to your own teeth, but the health risks involved could ultimately raise the price tag. After all, if fashion brackets don’t fall off on their own, you may need to visit a dentist to get them (or the adhesives they can leave behind) professionally removed. And this is just one possible consequence. If you’re considering fashion braces, it’s essential to be aware of these serious health risks:

Uncontrolled Tooth Movements

Even though they are not designed or applied in a way that makes them functional orthodontic appliances, fashion braces are still glued and cured to your teeth. This applied pressure can naturally encourage your teeth to move, potentially leading to unwanted and detrimental misalignment and tooth damage. If this occurs, you may need to visit an orthodontist to correct the damage with real orthodontic appliances like traditional braces or aligners.


Unlike orthodontic braces, fashion braces are typically sold online by local sellers or applied by unlicensed individuals who have not completed dental school or an orthodontic residency. Because fashion braces are not made, sold, or applied by medical professionals, it can be difficult to truly discern their ingredients, meaning fake brackets and wires may contain harmful and potentially poisonous chemicals like cadmium or lead. These metals, if present in the product and in your mouth for a long enough time, can cause liver damage, cancer, and heart disease.

Choking and Oral Cuts

Whether applied at home or in someone’s basement, having an unqualified individual apply any sort of appliance to your teeth comes with major risks of oral damage. The dental glue most often used for fashion braces is not the strong, medical-grade adhesive that orthodontists use, increasing the chance of the brackets or wires becoming loose and falling from the teeth. Loose wires or brackets can scratch and cut your gums and cheeks, and if they fall off completely, they become a choking hazard leading to dangerous consequences and potentially costly hospital bills.


Beyond the potential presence of toxic chemicals, there is no way to confirm the quality of the materials used to create fashion braces. Unlike the braces at your local orthodontist’s office, fake braces are not made or manufactured from medical-grade materials in sterile and safe environments.  Low-quality materials can raise the risk of oral infection, especially if the fashion braces cut or irritate your gums and oral tissues. In fact, Thailand banned fake braces in 2018 after they caused infections that led to the deaths of two adolescents. Authorities found that the infections occurred when heavy metals seeped from the appliance into oral tissues.

Safe Ways to Straighten Teeth

While it’s exciting to see young people embracing the braces look, that doesn’t mean that fashion braces are the best option. After all, just because you see something on the internet doesn’t mean you should join in. 

Not only can fashion braces have serious consequences for your oral health, but because they’re cosmetic-only, they won’t give you the beautiful smile that typically comes with braces. The only truly safe way to achieve the brace-face look and maintain or enhance your oral health is through orthodontic treatment with a qualified dental professional.

If you’re considering fashion braces, we recommend visiting an AAO orthodontist instead, as they can provide you with tailored recommendations and plenty of braces colors to help you achieve both your unique aesthetic and a healthy smile. Plus, there are a variety of braces types to help you customize your look while correcting any tooth or jaw alignment issues:

  • Traditional braces are known for their efficiency and affordability. They consist of metal brackets and wires that guide the teeth into the correct positions. These brackets can be customized with a wide variety of colors.
  • Ceramic braces provide an almost invisible look, blending in with your teeth seamlessly.
  • Designer braces can add fun accents to your appearance with special shapes like stars, hearts, and even sports-themed designs. They are still an effective and safe solution that can help you achieve the exact look you’re going for.

No matter your motivation for seeking orthodontic care, we recommend going the safe route and discussing your needs with an AAO orthodontist.

Join the Braces Trend with an AAO Orthodontist

If you’re browsing for the perfect fashion braces kit, pause your search and think about the potential side effects. Is the trendy look really worth the risk? After all, potential poisoning, infections, oral damage, tooth decay, and unintended tooth movement can have serious long-term impacts on your health and your smile. 

The safest way to apply braces is through a professional. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is an orthodontist-exclusive organization, meaning that only orthodontists who have completed the additional 2-3 years of postdoctoral orthodontic education beyond dental school are admitted. When you visit an AAO orthodontist for treatment, they will work with you to provide safe and effective treatment options to achieve your desired look while creating a healthy, beautiful smile.

To explore your braces options and find a safe alternative to fashion braces, schedule a consultation with an AAO orthodontist today.

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