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Posted on October 1, 2020
In the age of lockdown, we’ve seen some pretty strange trends pop up on social media. The latest headline to make us go “huh?” was this gem from Washington Post: “TikTok Users, Dentists Warn Others Not To Join Tooth-Filing Trend.” Excuse me?
That’s right. Apparently a few TikTok users took it upon themselves to use metal nail files to do their own dentistry at home, it became a trend, and now they’re having regrets. But it’s not like this happens a lot, right? It’s not like most people fancy themselves dental MacGyvers, right? Sadly, we see this all to often. Here are a few DIY dental don’ts.
Listen, we get it. You chip a tooth, it’s a little sharp, you could just lick that off with a file, right? Same for evening out the appearance of your front teeth like those clever TikTokers!
Maybe it should be obvious, but this is a terrible idea. First of all, trying to even out slightly uneven front teeth with a metal file not only sounds horribly uncomfortable, but it also does not take into account the appropriate shape of the teeth. Teeth should not be perfectly square, and they’re rarely the exact same length. Cosmetic dentistry is an intricate field of study. The length, curvature, symmetry, color, and contour of each tooth has very specific ideals. Better to trust even minor adjustments or cosmetic corrections to a dentist who has the training and artistic eye to create your ideal smile.
Also, an uneven appearance usually has less to do with the shape of your teeth than the position of your teeth. That means orthodontics may be a better solution for your cosmetic concerns.
Even more important than the appearance of your teeth is their health. Filing your own teeth can create weakness and lead to further chipping and fractures. If your teeth chip frequently, we need to address the root cause of this problem, which could be anything from acid erosion to grinding. We need to stabilize your bite and protect your enamel while smoothing out those chips. Otherwise, the process will just keep going.
Also, filing your own teeth can cause some serious sensitivity. All in all, it’s just a terrible plan.
I have never worked with a dentist who hasn’t seen at least one patient come in with a superglued denture or crown or bridge. Crown falls out, just stick some superglue in there to hold it until you can get in with your dentist. It’s just temporary, right?
Sadly, these types of adhesives can actually kill your teeth and cause serious damage to soft tissue. Not to mention most strong glues have seriously toxic compounds which you absolutely do not want to have anywhere near your mouth or lungs.
Most times, people trying to give themselves a quick fix(ative) end up costing themselves a ton of money and usually lose a tooth or two in the process. Even if the involved tooth doesn’t die, we usually cannot salvage any crowns or dentures that have had superglue on them and have to start over from scratch.
If you need some temporary adhesive, you can find over-the-counter temporary cement at any drug store. We usually recommend something like DentTemp. These glues are made for use in the mouth and will not damage your teeth or your restorations. Of course, these glues should not be considered a long-term solution and you should get to your dentist as soon as possible to fix your problem properly.
This one is a little less clear-cut. There are some acceptable over-the-counter temporary filling materials that you can use to cover up a painful cavity just to keep yourself more comfortable until your dentist can treat the area properly. The problem is that many people consider these temp fillings to be much better than they are.
If you pack temporary filling material over an active cavity, you are effectively sealing in the bacteria that are causing the decay. This will protect them and actually speed up the decay process. Over time, this will lead to infection and abscess. Left untreated, things can get bad enough to land you in the hospital or worse.
It is essential that patients understand temporary filling material is only meant to keep you a little more comfortable until your cavity can be cleaned out and all the bacteria removed, then filled in such a way to seal it properly and keep further decay out.
We know it’s tempting to solve your own dental problems. And I am all about DIY. However, dentistry is best left to the professionals. We are here with our years of training and experience to keep you as comfortable and healthy as possible. Stay healthy but don’t do it yourself, Orlando!
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