Do not drill your own teeth! And dismissing other rotten tooth suggestions on TikTok

Watch enough TikTok videos and you’re sure someone is appreciating a special kind of dentistry. Not about brushing and flossing, except flossing through your hair strands. These are videos of drilling holes into your teeth and cementing gems into them or filing your teeth to reshape them.

People throughout North and South America, Africa and Asia have been styling their teeth for centuries. But social media — especially TikTok, where everything old and new is pushed into short videos with trendy sounds and served fresh to young eyes — has breathed life into trends like dental gems. Celebrities like Drake, Rihanna and Bella Hadid wore them years ago. Now, some TikTok influencers are selling DIY gem kits.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are DIY tooth replacement kits and bedazzled grills online for under $25, and recipes for homemade toothpaste and whitening. The TikTok hashtag #DIYdentist has 2.6 million views. That’s enough to make any licensed dentist or orthodontist cringe.

Professionals wholeheartedly agree that DIY dentistry is a very bad idea. Dental care can be expensive, and orthodontic treatment is generally considered cosmetic and not covered by dental insurance—which 65 million Americans don’t have. And, according to the 2020 “Annual Review of Public Health” report, those who are low-income, uninsured, members of ethnic minority groups, immigrants or living in rural areas are more likely to have poor oral health.

So, is the high cost of dental treatment driving this viral trend among young people, or is it the lure of a supposedly painless, instantly changing smile?

Dr. Ruchi Sahota, a Fremont, Calif., dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, says she understands why patients want to do DIY dental treatments at home. “I just don’t know how [they] It can be done safely,” he said, especially by changing the shape of their teeth. While tooth filing is something a dentist can do to remove imperfections or create space between teeth during braces treatment, for example, some people do it themselves for aesthetic reasons to smooth tooth chips or create vampire-like fangs. “When we practice dentistry, we do so with years of training, X-rays, and experience that help us decide when and how to treat,” Sahota said.

Even properly applied dental implants with oral bonding materials are problematic, he said, because they’re “adding something to your teeth that will also attract bacteria. You’re increasing your risk of cavities, gum infections. And you’re increasing your risk of tooth decay, inflammation inside your mouth. “

DIY prices are definitely the tempting part. On Amazon, a 25-piece tooth gem kit is on sale for $12.99 from Tondiamo, a brand that also sells children’s earwax removal tools, waterproof adhesive bandages and chainsaw chains. The kit includes 10 crystals, a mini-LED keychain for curing glue, four wooden sticks, five disposable applicator brushes and five cotton rolls.

But there are no instructions.

Reviews on Amazon complain that the gems don’t stick. Some have suggested using nail glue – which is toxic and can damage tooth enamel. But among Amazon’s “often bought together” suggestions: bottles of epoxy resin glue.

A gold-plated, single-tooth grill front for $7.98 from TCOTBE and a set of silver-plated, brass fronts for $10.99 from OOCC both advertise that “one size fits most,” but reviewers say otherwise. “Save your money and use foil (the old school way) if you want to grill,” warned one shopper. Bleeding gums were a common complaint among reviewers.

Perhaps the wackiest DIY invention was a temporary denture repair kit from CZsy for under $25. It came with different sizes of plastic “veneers” for missing teeth and moldable plastic beads for repairs.

It also didn’t come with printed instructions, but they were buried in the product description on Amazon’s site:

  1. Drop in hot water above 130 degrees for about two minutes.
  2. Shape the size to what you want.

No company information or website was available for some of these brands, but the products had one thing in common: a bar code sticker that read “Made in China.” Instead of responding to KHN’s request for clarification of its policy, Amazon removed the listing for the tooth replacement. Other items were still available to order at the time of publication.

It’s not just DIY dentistry that gives licensed professionals toothaches. Vendors touting certifications for applying composite veneers and partials — which replace missing teeth when someone still has multiple natural teeth — are sprouting up on social media. Vendors like Mary’s Beauty Bar in Philadelphia will apply composite veneers for less-than-perfect smiles — in this case, starting at $1,999 per hour with a $499 deposit — as a low-cost alternative to porcelain veneers, which require shaving natural teeth. . Merchant advertises veneer training for $5,999. Mary’s Beauty Bar did not respond to emails or voice messages seeking comment.

DIY dentistry isn’t just a phenomenon of young people on social media. “There are teenagers, teenagers, even adults who are trying these things,” said Dr. Amber Bonaig, a dentist in Marietta, Georgia, and state director of DentaQuest, a Boston company. “A major contributing factor is lack of access to dental care.”

DIY can prove to be a viable option, especially since a person with severely damaged teeth, severe pain, or mounting dental bills to repair DIY damage rarely has disappointing results on Tiktok. Social media users, for the most part, display carefully curated highlights, not negative reactions.

“‘Cool stuff’ is all these hacks to make things supposedly easier or more accessible right now,” he said. Caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware, he warned. Reviews from influencers who often receive free services in exchange for promotional posts. Bonaig cautioned that complications can occur days, weeks or months after treatment.

Even when people don’t dare to drill their own teeth, they can do damage with other social trends like drinking “healthy coke”, balsamic vinegar – which has a higher acid content than the original soft drink – and flavored carbonated water. This is a recipe for serious erosion of tooth enamel.

Sahota sees what these viral trends can do. “Patients have been drinking or drinking lemon water, or maybe apple cider vinegar, and that has caused acid or decay in their teeth,” he said. “Patients will say, ‘Oh, yeah, you know, I saw online that, you know, it’s going to be better for my health. And so I’m doing it every night.’ That’s when I’ll bring in a mirror and show you exactly what that trend has done to your teeth.”

Such low-cost hacks can end up costing patients much more in the long run. Sahota suggests that consumers looking for safe ways to enhance their smile can scour the Oral Health site for products that sport the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Both Bonaig and Sahota urge patients to discuss their oral and cosmetic concerns with the dentist.

Every tooth and every mouth is unique, and there is no safe one-size-fits-all DIY hack “You can have a beautiful smile,” Sahota said, “even if it’s not perfect.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Along with policy analysis and polling, KHN is one of the three main operating programs of the KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a non-profit organization that provides health information to the nation.

Use our content

This story may be republished for free (details).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.