5 TikTok Hacks That Make Dentists Everywhere Cringe
Sure, TikTok is great for funny videos, fashion ideas and showing off your dance moves, but at-home dental hacks…not so much. While there are dentists on TikTok offering up good advice, the tips and tricks from those who didn’t go to dental school should always be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, some of the popular TikTok dental hacks can actually cause irreversible damage that will be costly and time consuming to fix. Our Naperville kids’ dentists are sharing the smile trends teens (and, well, everyone) should avoid.
Always See a Dentist First
Before we dive into things like the TikTok teeth shaving hack or DIY teeth whitening, let’s talk about why kids and teens should see a dentist before taking matters into their own hands. While it might seem like, of course, dentists would be against at-home treatments, that’s not the case. We’re all for our patients having an amazing homecare routine.
Yet, there is a reason that after graduating from college, dentists go to dental school for four more years. As specialists, pediatric dentists then spend an additional two to three years in a pediatric dental residency program receiving intensive training in caring for growing smiles. All of this schooling is necessary, because preventing, diagnosing and treating dental issues takes expertise. The teeth, gums and jaws are crucial for chewing and speaking and oral health has a direct impact on overall health.
Any kind of DIY dental treatment can carry serious risks and cause long-term damage.
So, before attempting TikTok dentist hacks, kids and teens should at least visit a dentist for a consultation.
5 TikTok Dental Hacks Teens Should Avoid
1. Shaving Teeth With a Nail File
The TikTok teeth filing trend can cause way more harm than good. The hack involves using a nail file to shave the teeth down and reshape them. While some TikTokers have gained a whole lot of views by shaving their teeth for the camera, teeth filing is dangerous.
The outer layer of the teeth is called the enamel. This hard protective coating not only gives teeth their white appearance, it also protects the dentin and pulp, the more sensitive inner layers of the teeth, and serves as the first line of defense against bacteria and acids. If you file even just a little bit too much of your enamel off, it leaves the dentin exposed and causes permanent sensitivity.
In extreme cases, the TikTok teeth filing hack can cause the teeth to become too short or even expose the pulp, which contains the nerve. Damaging the pulp will cause significant pain, as well as infection that could require a root canal to treat.
If your child or teenager is concerned about the shape or length of their teeth, ask their pediatric dentist. Depending on the situation and whether your child has baby teeth or permanent teeth, the dentist may be able to remove a minimal amount of enamel with a special, sander-like tool or use dental bonding to achieve the desired shape.
2. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Teeth Whitening
There are a ton of TikTok teeth whitening videos, but the one that’s probably the most dangerous promotes using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to whiten teeth. In the original video, the TikToker moistens a small piece of a Magic Eraser and rubs it on her teeth to remove stains.
Magic Erasers are made of melamine foam, which uses a compound known as formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer. As you can probably guess, it’s toxic when ingested. If the chemical mixes with your saliva while you’re rubbing the eraser on your teeth and you swallow it, it can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
As if purposely putting a toxic chemical in your mouth wasn’t bad enough, the eraser itself is extremely abrasive. When used on teeth, it can remove the enamel. Once the underlying dentin is exposed, you’ll have permanent sensitivity and your teeth will look yellow.
For kids or teens who want whiter teeth, ask the dentist about professional teeth whitening or even a take-home whitening kit. A professional-grade formula will produce significantly more dramatic results, while keeping teeth safe. The dentist will also evaluate your child’s teeth and gums and make sure whitening is appropriate for them.
3. DIY Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening
Another TikTok teeth whitening trend is whitening by swishing with hydrogen peroxide or applying it directly to the teeth with a Q-tip. Products like whitening strips actually contain hydrogen peroxide, which makes people feel as if the approach will be safe and effective.
While using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth isn’t as harmful as some of the other dental hacks we’ve mentioned on this list, kids should avoid applying it with a Q-tip and using it undiluted. Studies have found that exposing the teeth to high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide for long periods of time can damage enamel and cause sensitivity.
The safer route is to dilute the hydrogen peroxide by mixing five parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide. Swish with it instead of putting it directly on the teeth and only use it once a day, a few times a week for a short period of time. It’s also worth noting that teeth will only get a little bit whiter and professional treatment will bring about better results.
“Veneer checks” are also a teeth shaving TikTok trend, except this time, the shaving is done by a dentist. Users, who are typically pretty young, show themselves with their teeth shaved down to stubs before getting veneers.
While the choice to get veneers is between the patient and their dentist, there aren’t many cases where a very young patient would benefit from veneers to achieve straighter, whiter teeth. Orthodontic treatment followed by teeth whitening would usually be recommended instead.
Additionally, veneer prep doesn’t usually involve shaving the teeth down to nothing. Instead, a small amount of enamel is removed so that the veneers can be placed. The stubs being advertised in veneer check videos actually look as if they’re being prepped for dental crowns.
A full set of crowns might be advisable for patients with severe decay whose tooth structure would need to be removed anyway. For patients with healthy teeth, however, removing that much tooth structure to place crowns is questionable, at best. Preserving as much natural tooth structure as possible is generally the goal, because it helps to maintain the strength of the teeth.
5. Using Rubber Bands to Close Gaps Between the Teeth
This TikTok teeth straightening hack isn’t new. In fact, years ago, a number of teenagers followed instructions from YouTube videos and put hair ties and rubber bands around their teeth to close gaps with pretty horrifying results. Yet, it seems as if the trend is coming back.
Closing gaps between the teeth with rubber bands or hair ties is incredibly dangerous. Orthodontic treatment involves using carefully controlled force to shift the teeth into place. Shifting teeth too fast with rubber bands can damage the roots of the teeth, leading to tooth loss.
The rubber bands have also worked their way up under the gums of some DIY teeth straighteners, destroying the supporting bone and tissue and causing teeth to fall out at the root. The repercussions can be serious and permanent, and treating the issues will be much more expensive than getting orthodontic treatment in the first place would have been.
Even if you are able to close the gaps between your teeth this way, as soon as you take the rubber bands off, the teeth will start shifting back to their old places. If you’re looking for a convenient way to straighten teeth, talk to an orthodontist. Innovative Orthodontic Centers, which is under the same Innovative Dental Partners umbrella as our practice, offers comfortable, accelerated, safe orthodontic treatment. Thanks to their high-tech approach, patients of all ages will see results more quickly and conveniently, without compromising their oral health.
Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Dentist for Kids
Whether it’s TikTok teeth filing or DIY teeth straightening, when something seems too good to be true, it is! Using dental hacks to save time and money can cause the exact opposite to happen when the ensuing dental problems require treatment. If your child is unhappy with their smile, schedule a visit at Naperville Pediatric Dentistry. We can chat with you about their treatment options to ensure they have a dazzling, healthy grin.