TikTok user @gypsytrax posted a series of videos showing how to replace teeth with prosthetics made out of InstaMorph beads as an alternative to more expensive partial dentures.
In the videos, @gypsytrax speaks about a divide in dental care in the United States, with many unable to afford more expensive dental solutions.
A dental expert says that while this hack is cheaper than the up-front cost of dentures, using InstaMorph beads can lead to expensive and permanent damage down the line like gum recession, tooth loss, and infection.
"It's very important that you don't engage with at-home treatments," Dr. Vanessa Creaven, a dentist, told Insider.
A TikToker went viral for showing how she makes teeth out of InstaMorph beads - an inexpensive product that can be molded after heating - as an alternative to a more expensive "flipper," which is a removable partial denture.
The TikTok creator, who goes by Gypsy Lou (@gypsytrax on the app), posted what's currently a six-part series explaining how to make replacement teeth out of Morph beads. In the series, which has cumulatively amassed over one million views, she also explains why she's been wearing the Morph bead teeth.
While the hack may seem cost-effective at first glance, InstaMorph bead dentures could potentially lead to individuals incurring further costs down the line related to gum recession, an expert told Insider.
@gypsytrax said she's been wearing teeth made from InstaMorph beads for a year, but the company says they're not for internal use
In an initial video that's amassed over 30,000 likes on TikTok, @gypsytrax pitches the InstaMorph beads as a way to replace one or two teeth if you can't afford more expensive dental solutions.
"I'm not rich," she says in the video. "But for $15, I can make the whole world teeth... if you're missing one or two teeth and you don't have the money to go to the dentist, seriously, Morph beads from Amazon will change your life."
In further videos, she answers questions and shows how she makes the teeth, clarifying that she is not a dentist, and saying that while she has "no dentistry experience whatsoever," she does have "a sh-- ton of experience in being broke." @gypsytrax highlights that the product is clearly labeled as not for internal use, but said that she's been wearing teeth made out of InstaMorph beads for a year.
In the third part of her tooth saga, @gypsytrax shows herself placing InstaMorphe beads into boiling water and then molding them into a tooth shape, inserting the bead into her mouth.
Other TikTokers have also posted videos that show them using similar technology to extend chipped teeth. One video with over 147,000 likes from @iciijaylyn shows him melting beads to create a cap for a chipped tooth that makes it appear a nearly-identical size to his other front tooth, saying in a later video that he purchased a kit on eBay.
The comments of @gypsytrax's videos are filled with people saying that she's changed their life and thanking her for showing them the technique.
@gypsytrax did not respond to Insider's requests for an interview.
Dentures made from InstaMorph beads might be inexpensive - but they could cause damage to your gums and lungs
While InstaMorph beads can be less expensive than real dentures, they may cost more for you and your health in the long run, according to an expert.
Dr. Vanessa Creaven, co-founder of Spotlight Oral Care and a dentist, told Insider dentures are made to remain stably in your mouth while causing minimal damage to your gums. InstaMorph beads can technically fill a gap caused by a missing tooth but can also cause serious damage to your mouth in the process.
"Using something like microbeads is not hygienic. It will result in food, bacteria, and plaque getting caught around it and around the teeth nearby," Creaven said.
"This can result in inflammation of the gums and bone in this area which can lead to permanent recession and bone loss leaving the area very difficult to ever restore in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing."
One of the leading causes of gum recession - a condition in which your gums deteriorate that can lead to bad breath, painful gums, and tooth loss - is poorly-fitted partial dentures like InstaMorph beads.
In addition to being a gum hazard, using this hack to create dentures could actually pose a choking risk. Because InstaMorph beads are not as secure as real partial dentures, they can be inhaled or swallowed, which could lead to expensive surgery to remove them.
"There are different ways to replace a missing tooth and some that are more affordable than others," Creaven told Insider. "It's very important that you don't engage with at-home treatments that will long term end up costing more financially and also result in sometimes irreversible damage."
In her videos, @gypsytrax speaks about a very real dental care divide in the United States
@gypsytrax told viewers that her situation came from a divide in oral healthcare.
In a video response to a comment saying that she should have just brushed her teeth, @gypsytrax said that she had sustained facial trauma, leading to a chipped tooth, and then lost teeth as well to bad oral hygiene. "I was raised with no running water or electricity, so oral hygiene just wasn't in the forefront of my life," she said.
"When you're poor and your teeth start decaying, it's much more expensive to fix them than extract them, and so poor people are left with the choice of having that tooth ripped from their head versus being able to fix it because they cannot afford it because our healthcare system is broken," she says.
As The Washington Post reported in 2017, millions of Americans rely on charity clinics in order to receive dental care, unable to afford more expensive treatment like root canals and crowns and having teeth pulled instead. A divide in dental care, brought about by factors including a lack of dentists in areas of great need, financial inaccessibility of care, and lack of connection to a fluoridated water system, has led to dental health becoming a signifier of wealth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists race, socioeconomic status, age, and geographic location as factors that contribute to oral health disparities in the United States.
Read the original article on Insider