Maybe you’ve never heard of TikTok. Or you’ve heard of it, but you are not personally on it. The reason you need to care about it is because your children are probably watching all the TikTok videos and getting some seriously bad advice.
We as dentists worry about it because one of the latest #trending “how to” videos affects the teeth.
What is the Trend?
Lately, there has been a string of videos showing beautifully made up teenage and young adult women using a nail file to change the shape of their front teeth. These women have blindingly white teeth and use a flat, wide emery board to flatten the biting edge of their front teeth. They give a short little introductory speech about “fixing” the teeth themselves, and then begin vigorously filing in a horizontal direction with the file.
This gives us the chills just thinking about it. Imagine the sensation of nails on a chalkboard times a million!
Why Would People Want to File Their Teeth?
The videos typically claim a desire to even out the biting edge of the front teeth. Some state that they have small chips or rough edges. Others have one tooth longer than the other does. A crooked or slanted tooth will have a biting edge that is not horizontal but at an angle. All of these cosmetic problems are “reason” people want to file their own teeth.
There is a dangerous trend of our society in general wanting to “DIY” absolutely everything. There are some things you just should not do yourself. Rather than making an appointment with a professional to discuss ways to improve the cosmetic appearance of the smile, people want to “skip the dentist” and take care of the cosmetic problem themselves. This is why we also see an uptick in DIY home teeth whitening and DIY orthodontics, both of which are also very dangerous trends.
Why is this Dangerous?
Using a nail file on the teeth removes enamel. The enamel covering the teeth is one of the few tissues in the body that does not have the ability to rebuild itself. Enamel will not regrow after it is lost. That means when you use a nail file on your teeth, you are performing an irreversible dental procedure.
Another problem with this tactic is that most people do not know how much enamel is present on the biting edges of their teeth. Enamel only provides a thin, outer coating on the teeth and protects the underlying dentin, which is softer and more porous. When enamel is gone, the more vulnerable dentin is at risk for erosion, mechanical wear and tear, and cavities. If the enamel on these biting edges happens to already be thin from teeth grinding or acid erosion, using a nail file on them could easily remove the final insulating layers and expose the dentin.
The last reason this is a dangerous trend to try is the potential for transmission of bacteria from the fingernails to the mouth. We are assuming that people do not go out to purchase brand new, unused emery boards for this, but instead grab the one in their bathroom drawers. These nail files are dirty. They have bacteria from dirty fingernails, and placing that into your mouth is just plain gross.
What Can We Do Instead?
Come see us!
You might be surprised to learn what inexpensive conservative options we offer in the realm of cosmetic dentistry. You don’t have to pay ten thousand dollars for porcelain veneers to achieve a beautiful smile. The cost to have your dentist perform the procedure that would accomplish the same goals as filing your teeth a la TikTok is actually relatively low. And it comes with the peace of mind that you’re not doing anything to harm your teeth and necessitate expensive dental treatment to repair your “DIY teeth hack”.
More Questions about DIY Dentistry and its Dangers?
Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with one of our wonderful dentists: Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer. We might know a lot about TikTok, but we can answer all of your questions about DIY dentistry and the dangers it poses to your teeth.