JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a post that’s leaving people with their mouths wide open, literally. A Jacksonville woman is apparently advertising for deeply discounted braces, which she puts on at her own home.
A check of Florida databases shows the woman is not licensed as an orthodontist, dentist or hygienist. However, she’s now getting the attention of those who are.
A Facebook post from a woman named Cece Carter, who claims to be working in Jacksonville, garnered hundreds of comments and shares when it was shared in the Duval Beauty Directory and Promo group.
“I do braces! DM me,” she wrote, while showing pictures of children with braces.
She said she was offering a kids special for $400.
“No deposit," she added. “400$ (sic) gets you 12 months of treatments.”
She offered 24k gold braces for an upcharge.
For perspective, the average price of braces is around $5,500, a dentist told News4Jax.
News4Jax found posts, dating back to at least October, in which Carter offered her services online.
Commenters said she was still practicing and worked for a dental clinic, although News4Jax could not find records of either.
On her now-deleted Facebook profile, she claimed was a dental assistant and a future hygienist. She uploaded more than a dozen pictures of people with braces, who she claimed were her customers.
On Square, a digital payment site, News4Jax found a listing where she wrote: “I have no office and I work out of my home … Also be prepared for PAIN … You will not be able to eat normal after this.”
She also offered to do the work at her customers’ homes.
The posts were sent to licensed dentists, like Pauline Le, D.M.D., who practices in Neptune Beach.
“I was livid that someone was doing this and that people were supporting her and going to her for this,” Dr. Le said.
She said she saw the ad Monday and reported it to the Florida Department of Health and the Board of Dentistry.
“She’s definitely breaking the law,” Le said. “This is illegal. This is definitely illegal.”
Le said unlicensed dentistry could cause irreversible damage and patients could even lose their teeth.
She reviewed pictures of the woman’s alleged work with News4Jax and said the braces did not appear to be professionally done.
“It’s definitely not moving the teeth where we want them,” she commented. “That’s what scares me.”
She said the brackets and wires appeared to be professionally made and are usually sold to dentists through a distributor. However, surplus and black market items can be found online.
A dental cheek retractor from one of the pictures appears to be identical to the ones used in the popular game “Speak Out,” a comical challenge where players try to speak with the devices in their mouths. The retractors are also available online on Amazon.com.
Le used her social media platforms to share a warning: You get what you pay for and there’s no shortcut to a million-dollar smile.
“I think these people are going to her because it’s cheaper and they are saving money,” she said. “But the cost of your time, energy and money in order to restore the damage is being done by someone who is not a professional licensed in this, is far beyond what they’re saving.”
After News4Jax started investigating the claims Monday night and other people raised their concerns, Carter removed her post and took down her Facebook page. A Facebook message to Carter was not returned. News4Jax was not able to reach her Tuesday.
News4Jax reached out to a spokesman for the state Department of Health in Tallahassee. In an email, Press Secretary Brad Dalton said:
“The Department cannot comment on any complaints or pending investigations. The Department has a robust health care licensing process which thoroughly reviews applications to ensure that only individuals qualified by education and experience obtain a license. A top priority in the licensure process is the protection of the health, safety and welfare of patients in the Florida. Receiving any health care from an unlicensed person is dangerous and could result in further injury.”