The Truth About Dental Hacks

The Truth About Dental Hacks

The social media site TikTok has popularized “life hacks” – tips on how to improve your life with simple tricks you can perform at home. Unfortunately, DIY dentistry is among the many damaging trends that have emerged on TikTok, and dentists have been seeing the aftermath of the harmful impacts such hacks have on oral health.

TikTok Dental hacks range from seemingly innocent ideas (rubbing banana peels on your teeth to whiten them) to outright dangerous suggestions (using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to whiten teeth). These “dental hacks” are often posted by unlicensed influencers and people who target impressionable young viewers and can cause long-term damage to teeth, the mouth, and your overall wellness.

Among the most popular dental hacks on TikTok:

Hydrogen Peroxide as a Whitener
Whitening hacks are very popular and include activated charcoal, oil pulling, acidic fruits, and hydrogen peroxide. While many of these products are at best ineffective, some can be harmful. Hydrogen peroxide can be carcinogenic, and many DIY bleaching methods can cause severe gum recession and enamel damage. Bleaching products can also vary widely in strength, and online products may not be regulated. Your best bet is to discuss whitening with your dentist before trying any products on your own.

Filing Your Teeth
Using a nail file to smooth a chipped tooth or smooth rough edges can remove the enamel that protects your teeth. Not only can this yellow your teeth and make them more susceptible to stains, it could also cause chronic sensitivity. Removing too much of the tooth can also affect your bite and create a wide range of problems including jaw pain and molar grinding.

DIY Dentures
Using moldable plastic to replace missing teeth may seem like a good idea, but it can be unhygienic and dangerous. The moldable plastic collects food, bacteria, and plaque that gets caught and wraps around the teeth nearby, increasing inflammation of the gums and bone. In addition to a higher risk for permanent recession and bone loss, DIY dentures can also pose a choking risk – the plastic is not as secure as a real denture and can easily be inhaled or swallowed.

Removing Plaque with Scrapers
Plaque scrapers, like those used by your dental hygienist, are widely available, but your dentist would rather you don’t use them on your own. These tools are very sharp and can cause damage and bleeding if used improperly. Trauma to the gums can trigger gum recession and root exposure, resulting in increased sensitivity. You can also injure the tongue and cheeks or cause an infection.

Make Your Own Braces
There are hundreds of videos showing people tying teeth with rubber bands to close gaps and shift teeth in their mouths. Moving your teeth is an extremely complicated process that requires knowledge and planning. When your teeth move, the condition of your gums, bones, and teeth are all affected. Without the proper knowledge and experience, you can do permanent damage to your jaw, cause tooth loss, and suffer unnecessary pain.

To protect yourself and your family, discuss any “dental hacks” that you see on social media with your dentist. It can be hard to know which viral hacks are harmful and which are just nonsense, but your dental professional can help you take the best possible care of your teeth.