To this date, there are several online advertisements for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) braces spreading like wild-fire on the internet hence for those patients who are on tight budget (yet wants to look posh) would grab the chance to have these controversial braces. Through their advertisements, they would provide claims, good reviews and great feedbacks enticing readers that what they are selling are safe and effective. They would also make a mockery out of our technique and why most dentists charge sky high prices for a fraction of the cost degrading the dental profession. To further attract customers, they contradict our claims and scientific studies with their assumptions, acting like they know everything about being a dentist.
Collectively speaking, this black market trade has been circulating for years and only surfaced in our midst when the demand for supply increased. While illegal traders are making a staggering profit from this online service, it has been discovered that even undergraduate dental students are now joining the bandwagon, eagerly looking out for the next victim who is willing to compromise their health in exchange of having braces at a very low price. How is it possible that this trend caught on in our society?
Without knowing the repercussions of this wayward practice, our patients are only doing harm than good to their oral cavity. To confront this professionally, we must supply adequate dental education to inform the masses about the inevitable consequences if they patronize these DIY braces.
Here are the facts. Most online sellers of DIY Braces do not know the mechanics of orthodontic treatment. They only rely on what they see on youtube and other facets of information on the internet. What they don’t know is that that these prescription brackets are invented to improve the alignment of teeth, occlusion as well as the facial profile of patients. This lack of adequate knowlege and experience alone is a prelude to a disastrous outcome combined with improper handling of the materials.
Second, these perpetrators prey on individuals who lack the budget for a proper dental treatment. By offering their products at a low price, it easily attracts customers to purchase by indulging their victims to have braces. And because they do not know what they are getting themselves into, they submit to these contemptible overtures.
Due to the complaints reported by these victims, the Philippine Dental Association has spearheaded a nationwide campaign against the illegal trade and practice of dentistry in order to safeguard our patients and the integrity of our profession. In addition, NADTI and the PDA has signed a Memorandum of Agreement that stipulates to control and enforce stricter measures of selling their dental products to bonafide dental professionals only.
However, the efforts are still minute compared to the increasing numbers of online sellers sprouting everywhere and giving false information about their products and services. This constant deception to the masses must be stopped. But, the question is, how?
In order to contend this matter, we need to be vigilant against this illegal practices. Spreading the word that DIY braces are not like your shampoo hair color, or instant cake mix that you put inside an oven toaster are some ways to generate awareness to our patients. We have to accentuate that DIY braces are generally NOT SAFE! These home use braces do not even come with a real product information which pose an extreme danger to its users.
Surely, after this campaign, some operations may dissipate waiting to cool their heels before they resume their enterprising businesses but sooner or later, this will all end. As long as we spread the false claims of these advertisements, continually educate our patients by using the PDA’s campaign materials, keep a close cooperation with the chapter members, we will succeed from this notoriety that wrecked havoc in our profession.
The bottom line is we need to educate our patients about the consequences of the DIY braces. I am sure that through this vigilance, our efforts will cause a ripple in our industry that will resonate throughout the masses.
These online sellers are not our competitors. We must uphold to our patients that we are dental professionals who can provide their needs in oral health. We have the answer to their queries and not the search engines that they constantly resort to. Let us impress to the masses that we are proficient dental practioners dedicated to deliver clinical results and that DIY braces is not the new Martha Stewart advocacy in Dentistry.
About the Author: Dr Harris Co is a graduate of Centro Escolar University. Currently he is the Editor in Chief of Dental Access Publications.