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The worrying rise in DIY teeth whitening, and other TikTok trends

white teeth

Let’s be honest, we’ve all spent a lot more time on social media over the past year. It’s acted as a forced substitute for face-to-face interaction for months at a time, so it’s no wonder that countless people have become more reliant on it. But there are many, many things that you shouldn’t rely on it for, and one of those things is dental advice.

Over the last few months especially, there’s been a worrying rise in people trying various dental ‘hacks’ as cheap, quick and easy alternative procedures to professional dental treatments like teeth whitening. But, as we’re sure we don’t need to tell you, these ‘hacks’ are typically ineffective, and often hugely dangerous to boot. Here are some of the more worrying ones doing the rounds, and what you need to know about them.

Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar every day

Now this one was technically being promoted as a weight loss trick, and in that sense it’s not even that new of a trend. There’s virtually no scientific basis for the claims, but that hasn’t stopped them from being spouted by various influencers over the years. Not only is it ineffective as a weight loss technique though, but crucially it can be devastating for your teeth. That’s chiefly because it’s highly acidic, and acid in high enough concentration can weaken your enamel, increasing your vulnerability to tooth decay and cavities. Even more concerning, it can also cause swelling or burns in the inside of your mouth. Avoid at all costs!

Swabbing your teeth with hydrogen peroxide

Wow. We don’t even know where to start with this one. If you just winced reading the chemical name, you’re probably in no danger of trying it – and that’s a very good thing! After all, hydrogen peroxide has an even shorter and scarier name: bleach.

There are so, so many reasons not to put bleach directly onto your teeth. At best, you’ll get painful tooth sensitivity. You’re equally likely to get severe chemical burns on the inside of your mouth and lips, and have a similarly destructive effect on your gum health. And of course, bleach can be deadly if ingested. Hydrogen peroxide is sold in limited concentrations over the counter to the public, for all these reasons and more. It’s also not designed for dental use in its pure form.

DIY teeth whitening

Rubbing a banana skin on your teeth

Another teeth whitening hack that’s at best ineffective, and at worst can once again cause long-term damage. As you’ve no doubt guessed, the people promoting it have no dental training or expertise. The people who do (like us here at AP Smilecare) are always keen to point out that banana skins are rich in fructose, which is a sugar. When sugar comes into contact with plaque on your teeth, this can coalesce into an acid. As we’ve covered above, that can cause serious damage to your tooth enamel. While banana skins don’t pose quite the immediate risk of hydrogen peroxide, careless use is just as likely to result in long-term damage.

Filing down uneven teeth

Prepare to wince. No matter what any influencer tells you, you should not use a nail file to file down your teeth. This one is so obviously dangerous that we probably don’t even need to tell you why – but we will anyway, for the sake of clarity. People using nail files on their teeth are demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of how teeth work – they’re not inanimate chips of bone. Filing down teeth will permanently remove the protective enamel (which doesn’t heal itself or grow back), and equally poses the danger of exposing the nerve within the tooth, which will be incredibly painful. Fixing that will require serious restorative work from trained professional dentists, and that will be painful and long-term – not to mention expensive!

So as if you needed telling again – if you do need any dental advice, don’t get it from social media. That’s what our experts are here for! Plus, our expertise and training means that we can carry out professional dental treatments like teeth whitening in a safe, scrupulously hygienic environment. It might cost a little more than the price of a nail file, or bleach bought online, but more than worth it when it comes to your safety, and the quality of the results!

If you want to book an appointment or if you’ve got any questions about anything specific, our friendly team is always here to do what we can. We’re still taking care to offer a daily emergency service, so you can always trust to be here for you if you need some urgent help. If you need some quick advice, or you want to book an appointment for one of our other dentistry services, feel free to give us a call on 01254 270 000!

(A quick post-script here – a lot of these trends are being promoted on TikTok, where the majority of users are 10 to 19 years old, so if you know your children are using the platform, it might be worth having a quick chat with them too.)

Posted on: 26th Apr, 2021