When it comes to bad dental advice on TikTok, the hits just keep on coming. After a much-publicized series of viral videos about do-it-yourself teeth filing, several new and equally horrifying dental trends have emerged on the social media platform.
While you might have hoped TikTokers would have learned their lesson after the tooth-filing debacle, apparently that was just the warm-up. Here are some of the newest and most widely viewed harmful dental trends on the social media platform right now.
Using household cleaning products to whiten teeth
Scrubbing teeth with an abrasive pad that contains sulfurous acid and formaldehyde might seem like an obviously bad idea, but at least one TikTok user disagrees.
In a (since deleted) video viewed more than 2.5 million times, TikTok user @theheatherdunn revealed that for the past two years, she’s used pieces of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which the manufacturer advertises as having the “muscle to take on tough messes all around the house,” to whiten her teeth.
In the video, in which she also advised against using fluoride on teeth, Dunn said, “Yes, I am prepared for all the dentists that are going to come on here and be like, ‘Don’t do it — she’s crazy!’ I don’t care.”
Maybe you should, Heather?
In a video viewed 9.5 million times, a young woman wrapped her front teeth with several elastic hair ties, claiming she was going to close a gap between her front teeth in three days. She also posted a follow-up video showing off her alleged results. And just to drive the point home, she created a video mocking dentists who responded to her DIY braces videos in horror.
The dentists’ reaction was warranted. The practice shown in the video can restrict blood flow to teeth, potentially changing their color or even leading to tooth loss. The elastic bands can also lead to gum inflammation or infection.
While the TikTok videos are new, this trend has been around for quite a while, as DIY braces also became a viral phenomenon on YouTube in 2015.
Making prosthetic teeth and partial dentures with art supplies
Another cringeworthy trend involves using InstaMorph beads, made from a polyester thermoplastic that can be heated and molded into various shapes, to repair or replace teeth.
TikTok user love86emily posted a video, which has almost 47,000 likes, showing how to mold a handful of the tiny choking hazards into a “tooth.” Another user’s video showing how to repair a chipped tooth with the beads, which aren’t certified food-safe by the FDA, has received 1.7 million views.
Creating “shark teeth” for crowns
One of the most destructive TikTok trends involves people filing their teeth into narrow pegs so that they can be fitted with crowns, or in some cases, what the subjects mistakenly believe are veneers. While dentists have pointed out in replies that veneers often require little or no prep, let alone grinding your teeth into nubs, these videos continue to appear frequently on the platform.
Gluing vampire fangs to teeth
For some, Halloween means going trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, and gluing fangs to their teeth with a cyanoacrylate adhesive, otherwise known as super glue or nail adhesive. Although it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a toxic permanent adhesive is both toxic and permanent, that hasn’t deterred the many TikTok users who have used the glue to get the perfect vampire grin.
But wait, there’s more!
The general mindset of these DIY dental fans seems to be best summed up by user claudes244: “If you’re a dentist, don’t tell me this is wrong — spare me the grief. The damage has already been done.”
How can I protect my patients?
While TikTok may be full of terrible dental tips, it’s also a platform you can use to educate and reach new patients. Many dentists and dental professionals have posted TikTok videos of their own warning against dangerous dental practices and promoting safer alternatives.
Other ideas to consider:
- Email or text your patients, particularly the parents of teens, to alert them to these trends and warn them of the dangers.
- Post information on your practice’s social media about the danger of these fads and alternatives.
- Talk to your teen patients about safe ways to fix imperfect smiles, such as cleanings, orthodontics, cosmetic procedures and professional teeth whitening.
- At the same time, be cautious about increasing awareness of these trends and consider with whom you share this information.
And finally, while some of your patients might think these DIY trends seem like a good way to save money in the short term, remind them that long-term, potentially irreparable damage to their teeth is never worth it.