Debunking Harmful Dental TikTok Trends

Thursday, June 1, 2023
Debunking Harmful Dental TikTok Trends

TikTok is a popular social media platform that lets anyone with a phone create and share video clips. From jokes, lip-synching, and dancing to life hacks and more, TikTok serves up videos with over 1 billion videos viewed daily.

Dental TikTok trends have gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of views of DIY dental videos. But is everything you see safe for your teeth? Dr. Roopali Kulkarni, Assistant Professor of Oral Medicine at Penn Dental Medicine, and dental students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine set the record straight about the worst TikTok trends for your teeth.

Dental TikTok Trends: Why Seeing Shouldn’t Be Believing

“With so much content and information at the tip of our fingers, it can be hard to know what is fact and what is fiction,” shares Dr. Kulkarni. “We’re here to help you understand some of the most popular dental trends that went viral on TikTok and provide you with accurate information on how you can better care for your smile.”

Dental TikTok Trend No. 1: Debunking the Teeth Filing Challenge

“Filing down your teeth with an object such as a file or sandpaper is an increasingly common DIY TikTok trend,” says Joanna Haddad, a third-year dental student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Users think they can adjust uneven teeth this way. Unfortunately, this can cause permanent teeth damage.

Parker Norman, a second-year dental student at the university, explains why: “If you try to file your teeth at home, you degrade the enamel on your teeth. Enamel cannot regrow.” Enamel is the hard white outer layer of your tooth that protects it from damage and disease. Enamel loss can lead to tooth decay, cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease.

What can you do if you’re not happy with uneven teeth? Talk to your dentist. They have treatments that change the aesthetic shape and contour of your teeth that won’t put your oral health at risk.

Dental TikTok Trend No. 2: Debunking DIY Dental

While some DIY hacks can be helpful, “We recommend leaving your orthodontic care in the hands of dental professionals,” says Lauren Hogstrom, a first-year dental student at the university. Recent DIY orthodontic dental trends include:

  • Placing rubber bands around teeth with extra spacing between them to close the gap.
  • Removing orthodontic brackets or wires at home with pliers.
  • Purchasing orthodontic supplies off the internet and attempting to apply them.

Using rubber bands around teeth to close up gaps can cause harmful teeth movement. Bands can also move into the gumline, causing infection along with teeth, gumline, and bone damage. As for removing or installing braces, Dominique Gross, a second-year student at the university, notes, “Individuals without proper dental training likely do not understand the complexity of braces. Tooth roots, bone, and ligament make up the foundation that your teeth sit on, and moving teeth without compromising this foundation requires controlled forces and precision.”

This practice can have negative effects, including trauma to teeth, gums, and bone, teeth moving in unwanted directions, or returning to their original location. Straightening teeth or closing gaps is best left to dental professionals because there’s more to the treatments than wires and rubber bands.

Dental TikTok Trend No. 3: Debunking Oil Pulling

“Oil pulling is the practice of swishing around oil in your mouth and then spitting it out,” explains Saloni Shah, a second-year dental student at the university. Many TikTokers suggest it’s a replacement for mouthwash to treat tooth decay, kill bad breath, heal bleeding gums, and prevent cavities. It sounds like a fantastic solution. But, Shah says, “It isn’t rooted in science.”

Solutions need to be effective against bacteria to treat these issues. Haleema Kamali, a third-year dental student at the university, shares, “There is not enough scientific evidence that oil pulling is effective against the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, so we do not recommend it as an alternative to oral-care products.”

In fact, dentists are unanimous in agreeing brushing and flossing are the two most important recommendations.

For Dental Care, Don’t Turn to TikTok—Turn to Penn Dental Medicine

These are only a few of the most common—and what many dentists feel are the worst —TikTok trends, but “You can see that you have the potential to do more harm than good by following videos you find online,” cautions Dr. Kulkarni. Penn Dental Medicine (PDM) dentists can provide you with top information on how to best care for your smile.

With PDM’s unique philosophy, you’ll receive care from our top-rated faculty like Dr. Kulkarni and senior dental students. Watch the full video for more information about the dangers of these dental TikTok trends and how PDM can help you safely handle your concerns.

Then, download our free eBook, “The Affordability of Truly Comprehensive Dental Care.” You’ll learn how PDM ensures that cost doesn’t keep you from getting the care you need, so there’s no reason to attempt potentially dangerous dental TikTok trends.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Just call our office at 215-898-8965 or contact us.

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