We recently highlighted some TikTok skin care trends that you should avoid, and quickly realized that there are just as many dental care trends floating around the TikTok For You page. These easy, cheap dental hacks may seem too good to be true, and most of the time, it’s because they are.
Some people will do just about anything to get a whiter, straighter smile without having to pay the premium dental care cost. Ironically, if these DIY dental treatments go wrong, they can cause lasting (and expensive) damage, and they may not even work to begin with.
Keep reading to learn the TikTok dental care trends to avoid.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening
This viral hack is reminiscent of botched hydrogen peroxide DIY hair bleaching. In the same way that hydrogen peroxide was used as a cheap alternative to lighten hair, it has been adopted by TikTok users to whiten their teeth. Both are a testament to why you should see a professional for these treatments.
One poster claims that since store bought teeth whitening strips have hydrogen peroxide listed as an ingredient, that this hack is perfectly safe, but it can be incredibly damaging to your teeth and gums. Constant contact with hydrogen peroxide can cause sloughing of the tissue in the mouth, increase tooth sensitivity, and weaken enamel.
Whitening strips do contain hydrogen peroxide, but they are regulated by the FDA, and the strip is designed to only come into contact with the teeth and not the gums, tongue, or other mouth tissue. Hydrogen peroxide rinses may be prescribed by dentists to help treat a specific oral condition called Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG), but only for about 2-3 days. Swishing around peroxide like mouthwash, on the other hand, is too much for your mouth to handle.
If you want whiter teeth, see a dentist for a professional whitening treatment, or ask your dentist for a recommendation for an at home whitening treatment.
Charcoal toothpaste has been around since the 1800s, and it experienced a resurgence and started popping up all over store shelves a few years back. It quickly became a trendy social media trend to brush with these sooty, black pastes, and show off your spooky looking smile mid-brush. The paradoxical promise of these pastes is that activated charcoal helps whiten teeth, but is it true?
While charcoal toothpastes can help scrape off surface stains from things like coffee, wine, and tobacco, there is no sufficient evidence that shows that charcoal can whiten teeth any deeper than surface level.
In reality, charcoal toothpaste does more harm than good. It can weaken enamel which can actually lead to an even more yellowed appearance, and bits of charcoal can become lodged in between the teeth and gums which can lead to irritation and gum recession.
Using a Magic Eraser for Surface Stains
This trend falls into the same category as charcoal toothpaste – using abrasion to scrape off surface stains in a way that is not intended for teeth.
Magic eraser sponges are made from melamine which is great for scraping stains off of walls and other surfaces, but too harsh for the enamel on teeth.
Once tooth enamel is gone, it does not come back, so steer clear of using harsh abrasives on your teeth so that you do not cause permanent damage.
To prevent surface stains in the first place, try to cut back on tobacco usage and foods and beverages known to stain the teeth. If you do smoke, chew tobacco, or eat staining foods, try to brush immediately after.
Looking for a tooth-friendly alternative to chew on? Click here for some healthy snacks for healthy teeth.
Filing Down Teeth
Some TikTok users who are unsatisfied with the shape of their teeth have turned to using a nail file to reshape their pearly whites.
If you are not a professional and you’re using unregulated tools, it’s easy to file the tooth down too much, which can expose the inner level of the tooth called dentin. Leaving dentin exposed can lead to permanent tooth sensitivity and pain. Furthermore, you could file even deeper and expose and damage the nerve which can cause an infection.
The strength and proper functioning of your teeth far outweighs the appearance, so don’t fret about the shape. If you’re really unsatisfied with your smile, dentists do offer a similar procedure called enameloplasty, which safely files down a small amount of enamel with a drill specifically intended for the procedure.
Oil pulling is an oral care trend that has been making its rounds in wellness circles in recent years, but the process itself is an ancient ayurvedic remedy that has been used for centuries. It involves swishing coconut oil around the mouth for an extended period of time to whiten teeth, reduce harmful bacteria, and eliminate bad breath.
There is little harm to swishing around coconut oil (other than that your jaw may get exhausted), and using coconut oil for oil pulling can have some of these benefits. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not recommend it since there is a lack of significant evidence to prove these benefits, and oil pulling is not a suitable replacement for brushing and flossing.
If you don’t mind the tedium of swishing around coconut oil for twenty minutes, then go ahead and add oil pulling to your dental hygiene routine, but don’t treat it as an alternative to brushing your teeth. There are other natural toothpaste and mouthwash options that are proven to diminish bacteria and brighten the teeth using ingredients like xylitol and baking soda.
Why do Oral Care DIY Trends Start?
These types of dental trends circulate throughout the internet frequently. They usually start with claims not backed by science or evidence-based criteria for the sake of gaining attention and popularity on social media, but there is another side to it.
Research suggests around 36% of Americans have dental anxiety, with 12% having extreme dental fear. On top of that, economic anxiety can lead to the desire to achieve results at a lesser cost. This causes unjustified home remedies and false claims that may seem like the ultimate life hack, but they result in consumers wasting their money and potentially damaging their teeth and gum health.
If you’re dealing with dental problems, or just looking for the best oral care tips, turn to your dentist, not viral TikToks.
Keep reading our blog, and check out Cleure on TikTok for more oral health tips from Dr. Flora Stay!