Although crooked teeth are trendy in Japan, teens in places like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are now embracing the “brace face” look. Apparently kids are spending over $100 for the black-market fashion braces to give off the impression that they can afford the expensive orthodontic procedure. The most popular designs are Mickey Mouse, and of course, Hello Kitty.
However, the Thai government has been cracking down on the illegal vendors as the faux braces have caused the death of a 17-year-old who got a thyroid infection, which progressed to fatal heart failure due to poor quality braces. Another teen died from braces purchased at an illegal open-air stall. There have also been reports of parts of poorly manufactured dental appliances coming loose and creating a choking hazard. Some even contained lead. Anyone caught selling this new fashion accessory in Thailand can be imprisoned up to six months in addition to receiving a $1,300 fine.
I think I’ll stick to less-risky and more flattering fashion trends. I wouldn’t want to pay for food getting stuck between my wires and having to eat porridge every time I got my braces tightened.