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The TikTok dental ‘hacks’ that are dangerous for your teeth

Whilst Tiktok can be the source of multiple DIY hacks that make our lives easier, it can also be home to dangerous advice that has the potential to impact our health. The Oral Health Foundation wrote an article addressing some of these trends, stating that they are ‘becoming extremely concerned for the safety of some Tiktok users’ following the popularity of these dangerous dental advice videos.

Tiktok’s DIY beauty tips have soared in popularity over the last year of lockdowns, and advice on how to achieve the perfect smile has also emerged from multiple untrained users.

Experts have warned that these online hacks won’t only fail to work in the long term, but may potentially lead to pain and lasting damage for your dental and oral health.

Here are some of the most popular Tiktok DIY dental advice trends and why they are so dangerous for your teeth:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

The most popular topic of Tiktok’s dental hack videos, multiple users have shared their own DIY methods of whitening their teeth at home. But why are some of these methods so dangerous?

A viral video that made headlines last year shows user @clauds244 mixing water and 3% hydrogen peroxide before applying it to her teeth as a whitening treatment. In The Oral Health Foundation’s article, Dr Ben Atkins suggested that “For somebody not trained in dentistry, applying hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns and has the potential to cause serious and permanent damage to the teeth and gums.” In the UK, teeth-whitening products can be sold over-the-counter only if they contain less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide – a rule that Dr Atkins states is in place for good reason.

2. Lemon Juice

Aside from using a powerful bleaching and cleaning agent like hydrogen peroxide, Tiktokers have also recommended the use of lemon juice, most commonly mixed with baking soda, as a treatment for a whiter smile. In our previous blog post, we noted that citrus fruits are extremely acidic, and therefore can be detrimental to your oral health if ingested too often; the acid in lemon juice dissolves the enamel that covers our teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay. Whilst this method may see subtle results, it is much safer to try toothpastes that contain baking soda instead, without the acid of the lemon that could  damage your teeth.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Similarly, Tiktokers have commonly promoted the use of apple cider vinegar as a ‘hack’ for weight loss. However, The Oral Health Foundation pointed out that, in the same way that lemon juice is harmful to our teeth, apple cider vinegar is extremely acidic and increases vulnerability to tooth decay when ingested undiluted.

4. Filing down teeth

Other than pursuing a whiter smile, other Tiktok users have sought to make their teeth straighter and more symmetrical by using a nail file to file down their teeth. The video from user @miadio has shocked experts; Dr Atkins, dentist and president of The Oral Health Foundation, stated “using a nail file on your teeth will permanently remove the enamel. This enamel does not ‘grow’ back, so this could lead to expensive restorative work…” Another risk of this dangerous method is that the nerve of the tooth will be exposed, leading to pain and sensitivity, according to Dr Atkins.

5. Rubber band braces

It only takes one search for ‘gap bands’ for multiple YouTube and Tiktok videos to emerge showing step-by-step tutorials for how to close the gaps in your teeth using rubber bands. Whilst small elastic bands are used in orthodontic treatments, the DIY method places pressure on your teeth that causes fast and damaging movement. Whilst this might work, experts have warned against the impact this could have on your gums, bones, teeth and jaw, potentially leading to pain or even tooth loss.

These dangerous trends are spreading misinformation to younger audiences, as well as placing greater emphasis on their appearance than their health. Unfortunately, the majority of these trends are not ‘hacks’ as they cannot replace the advice of a dental professional, and many can actually lead to lasting damage or further issues. The Oral Health Foundation has advised that those looking for a more aesthetically pleasing smile should consult their dentist before attempting anything they see online.