The Dangers of TikTok DIY Dentistry
3rd February 2021
Those above the age of 25 may have vaguely heard of TikTok pre-2020 but perhaps not well versed in the social media app. However, as we all started to stay at home more, TikTok wasn’t just favoured by the under 25s, but kept many of us company through the various lockdowns of the past year.
Although TikTok’s content doesn’t take itself too seriously and ranges from dance challenges and lip-syncing rap videos to pranks and pets, we started to see many DIY dentistry trends circulating the platform, which gave dentists up and down the country cause for alarm.
A TikToker went viral for showing how she made teeth out of InstaMorph beads (an inexpensive product that is able to be moulded after heating) — as an alternative to a partial denture. In the video she showed how to melt the plastic down and mould it to fill any missing teeth – a TikTok that received over 30,000 likes!
While InstaMorph beads are less expensive than real dentures and technically fill a gap, they will cause serious damage to your mouth and cost more for you and your health in the long run. Not only is it not safe or hygienic to put in your mouth, it can also result in gum recession (which in turn can lead to tooth loss) and bone loss leaving the area very difficult to ever restore. In addition to this, using this method to create DIY dentures could also pose a choking risk.
DIY teeth whitening
Another trend that took social media by storm last summer was DIY teeth whitening, where young TikTokers bought pure hydrogen peroxide to rub onto their teeth using a cotton bud. Since the TikTok trend began, it’s been reported there has been a huge spike in sales for hydrogen peroxide.
A high concentration of hydrogen peroxide can bring about severe burns on the inside of the mouth, lips and gums and could even result in the need for gum grafts and tooth loss.
Legally, over the counter teeth whitening treatments must be of a low enough concentration so as not to do any harm, which means they’re not usually strong enough to make a huge difference. However, items bought over the Internet can be much stronger but also come with a very real risk of serious health problems.
Whitening your smile has become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades, however provided it is carried out by a dental professional, whitening is safe and a very effective way to a bright, white smile.
DIY tooth contouring
Another worrying beauty trend saw young people using a nail file to file down their teeth in an attempt to make them appear more even.
Filing down your teeth with a nail file can cause severe damage to your oral health as you alter the tooth structure as well as the enamel around the edge of the tooth. Enamel can never be regrown, so the damage is irreversible. DIY filing can also easily cause cracks in your teeth, leave your roots open to infection which in turn can lead to painful bone loss.
Cosmetic contouring should always be carried out by a dental professional and with appropriate sterilised instruments.
Celebrities and TikTokers took to the platform to show off their peg-like ‘veneers’. This then started the ‘veneers check’ trend on TikTok, where young people filmed videos showing off their teeth shaved down to tiny stubs before treatment. Celebrity Katie Price filmed her process of getting treatment in Turkey which shocked the internet and said, “No pain, no gain, if you wanna get your teeth done, you have to look like that.”
These are not veneers!! They are very heavily prepped teeth for crowns that cover the whole tooth. Veneers do not require your teeth to be shaved down to little stubs and doing so can damage them severely. Veneers are merely millimetres thick, only cover the front surface of the tooth and require minimal to no preparation whatsoever. However, once your teeth are down to stumps there is no going back.
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“… You are a genius and an artist (or should it be craftsman/person?) Andrew! Just a small note of thanks for your wizardry and expertise yesterday. It feels and looks amazingly better – and not even a twinge of pain afterwards…” – Patient