Smile ‘hacks’ to avoid: the internet is not your orthodontist

With the rise in popularity of social media and DIY projects, there are a lot of health trends and fads to beware of and avoid. Social media users have encouraged their fans to dye their hair at home, use fruit as a form of natural makeup, and even perform minor dental and orthodontic procedures on themselves. While you can certainly do some things from home, dentistry and orthodontic treatment are not on the list. Here are some popular trends for teeth and how they can cause irreversible damage to oral health.

1. Rubber band braces

While rubber bands are often used in orthodontic treatment to close the gaps in your teeth, they cannot replace braces. Trying to fix gaps in your teeth by using small elastic bands is dangerous because your teeth are very sensitive, and these bands are likely putting too much pressure on them. Experts warn against this “treatment,” which could move your teeth through bone too quickly and have detrimental impacts on your oral health. Ultimately, DIY-ing rubber bands is a recipe for pain and tooth loss.

While they might seem like a quick fix, applying your own rubber bands can cause long-term damage and bite issues that will require professional intervention down the line. Avoid this disaster DIY and seek help from real experts instead, if you want to straighten your smile.

2. Hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice as a teeth whitener

Many people on social media are sharing these easy, at-home ‘teeth whiteners’ because they have powerful bleaching properties. However, these very properties are extremely harmful and damaging to your mouth. Hydrogen peroxide, if applied directly to teeth, can cause chemical burns as well as long-term damage to your gums and teeth. Lemon juice, similarly, is extremely acidic, which means it has the potential to dissolve your enamel and make your teeth susceptible to decay.

We can give you safe teeth whitening recommendations after your treatment is over. You should wait until after treatment to whiten, as whitening during treatment could lead to uneven discoloration.

3. Filing your teeth

One of the more extreme trends among young people on the internet involves filing down teeth to make them more symmetrical. Unfortunately, this directly removes protective enamel, which does not grow back. If your enamel breaks down, you will likely have to undergo restorative dental work to avoid chronic pain and tooth loss, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Filing down your teeth can also lead to the exposure of nerves, which is very painful. Avoid needless pain and financial burden by seeking the help of professionals if you’re looking to straighten or improve your smile aesthetics. We promise it’ll be better for your mouth—and your bank account—in the long term.

4. At-home tartar removal

While you might think that you could remove your tartar using a dentist’s tools, it’s not as easy as it seems. You may find scrapers at grocery or drug stores, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. Tartar-removing tools are very sharp, and using them incorrectly can cause chronic gum damage, gum recession, or damage to any orthodontic appliances you might be wearing. It’s also possible to shove tartar beneath the gum line or into your brackets—making it difficult to clean your smile.

It takes specialized training and years of experience to be able to safely scrape plaque and tartar from teeth and around orthodontic appliances. This is why experts go through years of education to treat you safely. The best way to remove plaque and prevent tartar is to follow our instructions for excellent dental hygiene.

5. Pulling teeth

If you have a tooth that needs to be removed, never—ever—try to remove it yourself. If you do, you will risk exposure to infection or snapping the tooth’s root, which is immensely painful. Without proper training and experience, removing teeth is dangerous and may necessitate surgical procedures or extensive orthodontic intervention in the future.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, never assume the role of an orthodontist or dentist. Although these DIY or at-home options seem easy and convenient, they will be more trouble than they’re worth. Skip out on internet experiments and seek the help of professionals instead. Book a free consultation at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics today for all your orthodontic needs!