SHREVEPORT, La. - While TikTok is a great platform for dancing and entertaining videos, some are using it for Dental DIY hacks. When it comes to your teeth, the Dental Director of Louisiana DentaQuest, Dr. Damien Cuffie, says you shouldn't be using dental hacks from TikTok.
In some videos, you can see TikTok users shaving teeth with nail files to straighten them or sharpen them into a vampire fang.
"You're actually shaving away the enamel, which is going to expose the dentin. And the dentin is sensitive to hot and cold," said Cuffie.
In other videos, users used hair as floss on-the-go, shared whitening methods, and closed a tooth gap with rubber bands. Cuffie said people should steer clear of TikTok dental care and see a professional instead.
"We are trained professionals, we've gone through four plus years of schooling," said Cuffie. "And the instruments and the materials that we use are all tested and approved by the ADA and the FDA." Cuffie also shared an experience he recently had with a patient who received unprofessional work out of someone's home. It led to serious consequences.
"I've treated a patient who actually had braces put on in someone's home," said Cuffie. "And the movement of the teeth actually caused her to lose a couple of our teeth, because she had periodontitis which is supposed to be diagnosed prior to putting braces on."
In the end, Cuffie urges everyone to not follow potentially dangerous TikTok trends.
"Definitely go talk to a trained licensed professional," said Cuffie. "And that way you can prevent many of these issues that are caused by these 'do it yourself' dental hacks."
DentaQuest laid out examples of dental DIY's found on TikTok and how they can be harmful:
- Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening: Coffee, tea, and medications can all be sources of dental discoloration. While a popular TikTok video promotes hydrogen peroxide as a teeth-whitening technique to combat discoloration, dentists strongly recommend against its prolonged use and suggest people who want a brighter smile to use over-the-counter or professional treatments. Prolonged bleaching with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, especially when used multiple days in a row, can lead to highly irritated gums and sensitive teeth. While 3% hydrogen peroxide is available at most drugstores, it is better to use a toothpaste or teeth whitening product that is much gentler on the gums and enamel.
- Nail file teeth filing: Another popular DIY dental hack involves using a nail file to even out teeth or change the overall shape. A nail file is not intended to be used for teeth--it can cause severe damage to enamel, which protects teeth from sensitivity, pain, cavities, and discoloration. In addition, using unsanitary tools like this can introduce bacteria in the mouth. For people who may be unhappy with the shape or size of their teeth, it is recommended to schedule an initial consultation with the dentist.
- Hair flossing: Using hair as a tool for flossing is also a trend circulating on social media. Flossing daily can help eliminate plaque between teeth and prevent calculus from forming at the gum line, but it is important to use the correct tools because using the wrong ones, such as strands of hair, can cause trauma and lead to irreversible harm to the gums.
- Plaque removal: While plaque scrapers are widely available outside of the dentist’s office, dentists don’t recommend using them at home by yourself as one viral TikTok trend suggests. Plaque scrapers are sharp, and improper use can puncture and damage the gums, as well as cause excessive bleeding. Gum trauma can prompt gum recession, root exposure, and increased sensitivity to foods, beverages, and pressure. It can also injure the tongue, cheeks, and other areas of soft tissue, or cause infection.
- DIY dentures: Using moldable plastic as a solution for missing teeth is another viral hack users on TikTok have suggested. However, it is recommended to avoid using moldable plastic to replace teeth as it is unhygienic and will result in food, bacteria, and plaque getting caught around the plastic and around nearby teeth. This can cause inflammation of the gums and bone, which can lead to permanent recession and bone loss. In addition, DIY dentures can pose a choking risk. Moldable plastic is not as secure as real partial dentures, making it easy to inhale or swallow.