The Internet Is Not Your Dentist: Avoid These Pitfalls

You’ve seen the social media fails, no doubt – DIY don’ts are all over the Internet. DIY cabinetry is one thing, but tinkering with your mouth is quite another. Young people are being lured in by online tutorial videos and the promise of saving a buck (in the short term), which has the American Dental Association concerned.

In fact, in August of 2018, the ADA launched a public awareness campaign warning that “DIY dental treatments can affect the gums, bone, ligaments that support the teeth or the teeth themselves.” A 2017 survey by the American Association of Orthodontists found that 13% of orthodontists have seen the ill effects of DIY dentistry in their practices, including “irreparable damage.”

Curious whether any of those online dental treatments are safe? Here are some often-advertised at-home treatments and what you should know about them.

Direct-To-Consumer Aligners

Braces and professional clear aligners aren’t cheap, which is why DIY aligners offered online for a fraction of the cost might seem tempting. But the truth is that not everyone is a candidate for teeth straightening. And if you’re not a dental professional yourself, how would you know?

While having straight teeth is a noble goal, it’s typically not the only issue at play in your mouth. A dentist should check to make sure there are no underlying problems, like gum disease or cracked fillings, that might be exacerbated when teeth are on the move.

“Rubber Band” Braces

The DIY braces tutorial is a social media phenomenon that most people wouldn’t have predicted. People – typically, tween and teen girls – use tiny rubber bands, aluminum foil, paper clips, fishing line, and pierced earring backs to create their own makeshift braces. Though the teeth do move, dentists are aghast. Teeth that shift too quickly can damage bones and gums, and in at least one notable case, someone caused enough damage to lose their front teeth permanently.

Charcoal Toothpaste

Charcoal is a wellness industry darling right now. (Charcoal deodorant! Charcoal smoothies! Charcoal ice cream?). But there’s no evidence that it’s safe or effective for your teeth. Stick with toothpastes that contain fluoride and the ADA approval seal.

OTC Whitening Trays and Strips

At-home teeth whitening has come a long way. And there are plenty of products approved by the ADA on the market that use whiteners like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. However, OTC products can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity if not used as directed. And know that most at-home products don’t have the potency to do much – though you wouldn’t want to use anything more potent without a professional anyway.

Bite guards

Boil-and-bite” guards are meant to treat bruxism – clenching and grinding – but the OTC types don’t treat the underlying causes and can even make things worse.

DIY Extractions

Please, DIY tooth extraction is practically medieval, but you can find videos online of people attempting it. Tooth extraction is more or less surgery – with all the attendant risks, namely infection. Plus, why pull it at home when you can have a hygienic, pain-free experience in a dental office, thanks to numbing agents and perhaps nitrous oxide if you like?

DIY Fillings

There are a handful of OTC products to help bridge the time between losing a filling and seeing your dentist to get it fixed, but they were never meant as a long-term solution. DIY sealants are meant to last only about 48 hours. And then there are really rogue sealants, such as one that is a potentially toxic epoxy used to fix cars.

One key problem with DIY fillings – there are so many – is that improper sealants can trap bacteria underneath, making the problem even worse. Simply capping a problem doesn’t fix it.

Just don’t do it

“We know it’s harder than ever to know who to trust,” reads an ADA ad. “The ADA believes that ongoing supervision by a dentist is critical for any dental care you receive. Dental diagnoses and treatments are not do-it-yourself projects.”

Just remember – more often than not, you get what you pay for.

The renowned dentists at Herald Square Dental & The Denture Center help thousands of people each year restore their healthy smile. Well known for their warmth and caring, in addition to the quality and precision care that is their hallmark, Herald Square Dental & The Denture Center have been helping patients Smile with Confidence for more than 40 years. An experienced dental team matters.

-Laura Lambert for Herald Square Dental & The Denture Center

The above content was provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider for medical advice, or reach out to Herald Square Dental & The Denture Center to schedule an appointment.

This paid post is produced by Studio 1847, a division of Tribune Publishing Co., on behalf of The Denture Center. The newsrooms or editorial departments of Tribune Publishing Co. are not involved in the production of this content.