When it comes to the “perfect” smile, many people feel pressure to work against genetics to make their teeth flawless.
Enter TikTok, a social media network that is home to more than 1.1 billion users.
TikTok is a popular destination for discovering “hacks” to improve your life. While this may be fine for tips on how to organize your closet, there is an alarming array of DIY dental hacks making the rounds as well.
In this article, we’re going to break down three of the biggest trends and why you should not even think about attempting them at home.
Any teeth whitener “hack” using household cleaning products
This should go without saying, but there is a reason you don’t find things like bathroom cleaners in the food aisle. And yet, there is an alarming trend of TikTokers using Magic Erasers to whiten their teeth.
Oh boy, where do we start? For one, the chemicals in cleaning products were not created for human consumption. Magic Erasers in particular also contain formaldehyde, which is highly toxic if ingested and can cause a whole host of symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections.
Like the color of our hair or risk of certain diseases, the color of our teeth is genetic. And it is perfectly healthy for teeth to not be perfectly white, as yellowing is a normal part of the aging process. While the usual suspects (such as red wine and coffee) do have an effect on the shade of our teeth, most people are only going to be able to whiten them so much.
If whiter teeth are important to you, try a safer DIY approach (such as strips or toothpaste) from your local drugstore or make an appointment with your dentist.
DIY braces and gap filling
Rubber bands are great for keeping things like paperwork together….not teeth. And yet, TikTok users are trying their hand at DIY orthodontics with this office staple and raking in millions of views.
But orthodontics isn’t just about closing gaps: braces also help align your upper and lower teeth to reduce the pressure on your jaw and keep your teeth from wear and tear over time. And using a tool like a rubber band isn’t going to help with that.
Even worse, those rubber bands can get caught in the soft tissue of your gums, which may require professional help to extract. And if they are not removed, they can cause nerve damage or a gum infection as they grow closer to the root of your tooth.
Using utensils or tools to file teeth
Even just writing those words makes us cringe. And yet, there are videos of TikTok users doing this very thing. We will spare you the footage, but we cannot stress enough what a terrible idea it is to use tools you’d find in any kitchen drawer or toolbox on your teeth.
Poking and prodding at your teeth can reveal dentine, which is a sensitive second layer of protection that, once pierced, can cause issues ranging from sensitive teeth to treatment requiring a root canal or even extraction.
Another reason to avoid this hack is the risk of exposing your teeth to extreme heat damage. When dentists use tools like drills, they also spray water at the same time, which protects your teeth. Many of these videos have no such considerations.
Finally, unlike bones or hair, teeth do not grow back. Once they are gone, they are gone for good. And that hack you thought would save you money is actually going cost you far, far more.
Moral of the story? You get what you pay for
These at-home hacks are presented as ways to achieve a million dollar smile for just a few bucks. But the risks of using these unproven and dangerous methods far outweigh any potential positives. And that money you hoped to save will likely go straight toward a pricey medical bill.
So don’t get caught up in trendy influencer tips: make an appointment with an accredited dental professional instead.
The bottom line: Take those trendy TikTok dental hacks with a huge grain of salt and do your research on the safest ways to achieve your oral health goals.