Don’t DIY Your Dental Health, Dentists Say

Needless to say, dentists are warning people not to operate on their own teeth after a video of someone filing their teeth goes viral.

A 19-year-old Florida woman decided to level her front teeth with a nail file – and thousands of spectators watched. If this had been a one-off event, it could be dismissed as a person with a not-so-good idea. But apparently this isn’t the first video of this kind to be making the rounds.

According to a Washington Post article, a Pennsylvania teenager aged 16 got bored one night last August and remembered seeing a video of another teen filing her own teeth and decided to give it a try and to include. She knew it was a bad idea and said as much as she continued to work on the file against her upper front teeth.

After she stopped recording, the teen resumed her dental home improvement and filed her lower front teeth as well. This time, however, the results were not what she expected. She submitted so much that she began to experience sensitivity to cold that she didn’t have before.

“I probably filed it way too much just because it was the crookedest, so I filed it until it matched the rest of my teeth,” she said in the article.

Medical Daily reached out to the American Dental Association (ADA) to see what they thought of this latest viral activity. “By filing teeth yourself, you are removing valuable protective enamel, increasing the chance of cavities and potentially increasing sensitivity to heat and cold,” the ADA wrote in an email. The damage caused could result in the loss of one or more teeth, they added.

“Some DIY health trends on social media, like the current trend of filing your teeth, can cause permanent damage,” the ADA said. “This is why it is so important to speak to your dentist about potential problems with your teeth, rather than trying DIY treatments. Dentists examine each patient and offer bespoke treatments to help address the root of the problem. “

DIY dental care industry

An entire industry has sprung up to help people perform aspects of dental care – aside from normal brushing and flossing – on themselves, including orthodontics (braces), teeth whitening, cavity filling, and even extractions.


Companies that offer do-it-at-home aligners don’t examine your teeth thoroughly, and tooth movement can cause other problems in the mouth. In an article published last year, Miami, DMD, dentist Monica Gonzalez described a patient who used an ill-fitting device and is now at risk of infection in the mouth due to the way the device positioned one of her molars. The dentist said it’s not that the products don’t work – it’s that not everyone is a candidate for the products.

“There are times when it will work. We just have to make sure that we don’t have any consequences that end up getting worse, ”she said.


Teeth whitening systems were among the first DIY products to become popular. They come in a variety of shapes, from strips to shapes that you bite into to specialty toothpastes. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that you speak with a dentist before trying a kit to make sure the product won’t damage your teeth.

Most kits use hydrogen peroxide, but this can damage the outer layer of the tooth called the dentin. The damage can be temporary, but further investigation is needed. “We don’t yet know if this is something that will have long-term implications for dental health,” Anne Clemons, DMD, a dentist at Cleveland Clinic, said in the article.

The article suggests making sure that any teeth whitening system or product is approved by the ADA. Follow the directions (only some are good, doesn’t mean more is better) and contact your dentist. “If you want a brighter smile, teeth whitening products can be good tools – but they’re not a substitute for good dental hygiene,” said Dr. Clemons.


Several dental offices and dentist blogs are trying to educate the public about dangerous DIY trends related to teeth, including DIY tooth extractions. Because pulling a tooth is technically considered an operation, it must be performed by a professional who can (1) determine if the tooth really needs to be pulled; (2) pull it and be able to deal with potential complications; and (3) prevent or reduce the risk of infection as a extracted tooth leaves an open wound through which bacteria can enter the body.

Cavity filler

Google “DIY cavity filler” and you will find lots of articles and blog posts about the dangers of these products. Everyone agrees that voids need to be filled sooner rather than later, but doing it yourself is not a good idea. You can save money upfront, but you may have to pay a lot later to fix other issues. Cavities that are not treated properly can lead to serious infections that can affect the entire body.

Children’s Dental Health’s website states, “Even with the safer temporary wax you could always buy at the pharmacy without a dentist, all you know is where the pain is and you can’t pinpoint the exact cause or location. Using a DIY method runs the risk of burying the underlying cause of the pain deeper and expanding the professional care that is required to correct the problem. “

The take away

It is true, dental care can be expensive. But if you need to see a dentist and you’re short on money, help is there. The U.S. Department of Health has a page with information on cheaper options such as: B. to attend a dental school. Dental students perform procedures under the strict supervision of their professors at a reduced cost. Dental schools may also offer cleaning and checkups. There are also various state and local resources that may be applicable.

“It is important to keep up with your regular dentist visits as they are important to keep your smile happy and bright,” the ADA wants you to remind yourself. “For more information, see the ADA consumer website,”

And please, don’t file at home.