It probably goes out without saying that it’s not a great idea to take any medical advice from someone who isn’t a doctor. But Covid kept many people away from dentist offices for over a year, and one of the consequences of that was that some turned to TikTok for dental advice, like how to whiten teeth at home (hint: do not use at-home cleaning supplies) or how to close a gap.
We talked with Dr. Nolan Bodah of Carolinas Dentist Wilmington location about TikTok dental trends to skip and why they’re not a good idea.
Filing Teeth With A Nail File
@acerendulicc No one tell my dentist #teethchallenge #fyp #ColorSelector #TimeforTENET #MeTime #dentist #smile #blonde ♬ original sound – Ace
I admitted to Dr. Bodah that once, in high school, I was drinking from a glass beer bottle, and someone accidentally elbowed the end of the bottle as I was taking a sip, causing my front tooth to chip. Instead of telling my parents how I chipped my tooth, I had a friend use a nail file to try to even out the jagged bottom of the teeth (she’d also had a few drinks making it a doubly terrible idea). It, unsurprisingly, did not work.
He cringes when I tell him this story, and for a good reason. “A lot of times what happens is when you file a tooth down, other teeth drift into that space. If I were to file my molar all the way down, the molar above would come down to start contacting that tooth again. So imagine doing that with your front teeth and the changes that can happen with your front teeth as a result of that,” Dr. Bodah says, adding that sometimes dentists do file teeth, but this is done by professionals with a plan and a sterile piece of equipment.
You also risk damaging the tooth’s enamel if you file too aggressively or even potentially exposing the inner layer of the tooth, which would make the tooth hypersensitive.
Using A Magic Eraser On Teeth
@thebentist Did she really just say she uses a magic eraser to clean her teeth… 😳 please don’t make this a trend 😂 #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #teeth ♬ original sound – The Bentist
Magic Erasers are miracle workers when it comes to getting crayons off a wall or cleaning up white sneakers that get scuffed. But, and I wish this went without saying, Magic Erasers should not be used on your teeth, regardless of what TikTokers says.
“That’s a concerning one for sure, because who knows what chemicals are there or how harmful they could be,” Dr. Nolan Bodah of CarolinasDentis says. And while Magic Erasers feel soft to the touch, they’re actually made with a melamine foam that is abrasive and rough and could, over time, wear down enamel; keep in mind that you cannot get your teeth’s enamel back once it’s gone.
@soggyalien22This video is literally just me showing off my blue teeth polish♬ anthropology by awkwardmarina – tower of hell champion
Tooth polish is like non-toxic nail polish for your teeth. The polish, which is made by a brand called Chrom, was developed by dentists, and as the Chrom website says, “will not harm teeth with strong tooth enamel or permanent dental work,” (though those with braces shouldn’t use it, temporary dental work, teeth sensitivities, or chipped teeth).
The issue with tooth polish, as Dr. Bodah says, is not so much the polish itself but the fact that it can be worn for up to 24 hours, a period of time in which someone should not brush their teeth. Instead, the polish will need to be chipped off before the teeth can be brushed. “The idea that they’re telling people to not brush for extended periods of time is the scary part here,” Dr. Bodah says. If you want to use the polish for just a few hours, it’s probably harmless, but it’s never good to make an aesthetic choice that interferes with your ability to brush your teeth regularly. Not brushing can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Using A Rubber Band To Tighten Gaps
@lutheangel If you don’t know about the rubber band method were you rlly insecure about your teeth? 😈#greenscreen #teeth #glowup ♬ YachtMood – JenniferKc
If you had braces, you probably remember that rubber bands were a big part of the experience; I admit that I used to coordinate my rubber bands with holidays (orange and black for Halloween was all the rage).
But some people are taking dentistry into their own hands and attempting to close their gaps at home using rubber bands. Dr. Bodah says it’s impossible to close a large gap at home, and even if someone was successful at closing a “micro gap,” it’s only a temporary solution and not a very good one at that.
“The reality is it’s going to rebound. If you don’t wear a retainer, what happens is your teeth shift. You’re going to create spacing elsewhere. That’s not an appropriate way to close a gap,” he says, adding that having a non-sterile piece of rubber in your mouth for long periods of time is also a bad idea.
If you’re worried or embarrassed about going to the dentist after so much time away, and that’s why you’re seeking out home remedies, Dr.Bodah says that the vast majority of the people he sees are new patients who haven’t seen a dentist in a year or more. “You would be in the minority if you’ve been here in the last six months; very few of my patients were routinely going [to the dentist] through COVID unless they had more of an emergency situation,” he says. “Nobody should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed to come to the dentist. If you are ashamed or embarrassed, you need to find a new dentist.”