“I saw this hack on TikTok!”
Life hacks are something everyone looks for in everyday tasks. However, when dealing with your dental health, a DIY hack can be detrimental to your teeth and overall health. While the ability to do something yourself is understandably enticing, the risks can be extremely harmful. Seeking professional guidance is crucial when trying to enhance your smile and while a cheaper “shortcut” may be appealing, the risks associated with them should not be underestimated.
At-home teeth whitening has been around for years with products such as Crest Whitestrips. However, some viral videos and posts have shown people using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove stains on their teeth. Unfortunately, in addition to removing stains, users are also removing tooth enamel and possibly ingesting harmful chemicals. These magic erasers are made with a melamine resin foam which contains formaldehyde which can be very dangerous if ingested.
FDA approved whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient. Some “hacks” call for using undiluted hydrogen peroxide multiple times a day as a whitening agent. Hydrogen peroxide is an extremely reactive compound, and even ingesting a small amount can result in vomiting, stomach bleeding, breathing problems, and potentially be life-threatening.
Other hacks encourage the use of high acid fruits or vinegar which eat away at your tooth enamel which may expose dentin resulting in a yellower appearance of your teeth.
Other common hacks address shaping teeth by filing them down with emery boards or nail files. Without guidance of a dental professional, people can easily expose the dentin causing sensitivity and increase the risk of cavities on these teeth. Younger adults may have larger pulp chambers and filing too much could expose the nerve which would require a root canal to repair.
Another trending hack shows people using these files to create a diastema or “gap”. By doing this, you are not only permanently altering the shape of your teeth but you can expose the dentin or injure the papilla resulting in pain and costly professional intervention to repair.
On the other hand, some people may search for a DIY to close gaps and spaces. At- home aligners or using tiny rubber bands to close spaces can apply excessive force on teeth and potentially lead to the absorption of the tooth’s root. Without proper supervision of an orthodontist, the damage caused by these at-home treatments can lead to destruction of the periodontal attachment, teeth extrusion, and increased mobility.
One final hack that has been circulating the internet is mouth taping. While this does not address an esthetic quality, it helps promote nasal breathing which is considered healthier than mouth breathing. While breathing through your nose helps to reduce dry mouth and throat at night, mouth taping may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions, obstructive sleep apnea, or breathing issues. Anyone looking to use mouth taping should consult a sleep professional to discuss problems such as snoring and mouth breathing.
DIY projects can be appealing due to the savings in cost and the convenience. Unfortunately, using these shortcuts for our teeth can result in irreversible and costly consequences. These shortcuts can be ineffective, harmful, and pose a major risk to your oral and overall health. Seeking professional dental guidance is the best and only way you should try to resolve any issues you have with your dental health.