UNLESS THE DENTIST is on TikTok, it’s not a great platform to get dental health advice from. This year we’ve seen a number of alarming do-it-yourself dental procedures trending, and we want to nip those in the bud for our patients.
A number of TikTok videos have shown teens and young adults trying to even out their smiles by using nail files to wear down the chewing surfaces. This is a very bad idea. Once tooth enamel is gone, it’s gone forever, and amateur tooth filing can lead to fractures, tooth sensitivity, and infection. Dental health professionals will sometimes file teeth, but we are able to do it safely because we have training and use the proper tools.
A similar (but worse) trend involves TikTokers filing their teeth down to pegs prior to getting crown restorations. This is horrifying and can easily result in complications like nerve damage and the need for root canal therapy. Anyone unhappy with the appearance of their smile (especially when their teeth are healthy) should speak to a dentist about professional cosmetic treatment instead of irreversibly damaging their own teeth.
Some TikTokers are using 3% hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth, which can cause gum irritation and long-term sensitivity. This is not a safe way to achieve professional whitening results cheaply. It’s much better to ask the dentist for recommendations on whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, or professional in-office and take-home treatments.
Another dangerous trend we’ve seen on TikTok is teens trying to correct their own orthodontic problems using everyday items like rubber bands. DO NOT DO THIS. At best, it won’t work and will need to be corrected by a professional. At worst, it could turn out the way it did for David Campbell. The rubber bands he used seemed to be disappearing at night, but really they were slipping under his gums, where they strangled the roots of his teeth. The teeth could not be saved.