Dentist breaks down ‘scary’ TikTok hacks and what young people can do instead

TikTok is full of helpful hacks but some of them can be downright dangerous. 

Recently, a deluge of so-called dental hacks has been flooding users’ For You pages. Yet, many of these tips and tricks aren’t exactly approved by reputable experts. Dr. Amber Bonnaig is a dentist and Dental Director of DentaQuest in Georgia. She gives In The Know the rundown on all the TikTok dental hacks you should avoid. And quite frankly she found a lot of them “a little scary.”

Using hydrogen peroxide as teeth whitener

Despite TikTokers promoting hydrogen peroxide as a teeth whitener, the doctor — and most dentists — warn against it. 

Prolonged bleaching with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, especially when used multiple days in a row, can lead to highly irritated gums and sensitive teeth,” Dr. Bonnaig says. “While 3% hydrogen peroxide is available at most drugstores, it is better to use a toothpaste or teeth whitening product that is much gentler on the gums and enamel.” 

Instead, she suggests opting for over-the-counter or professional treatments specifically designed to brighten teeth. 

Using a nail file to file down teeth

It probably goes without saying but nail files aren’t made to be used on teeth. Don’t let TikTok convince you otherwise. 

“It can cause severe damage to enamel, which protects teeth from sensitivity, pain, cavities and discoloration,” the dentist says. “In addition, using unsanitary tools like this can introduce bacteria in the mouth.”

If you’re unhappy with a tooth’s shape or size, stick with the pros and consult a dentist. 

Using hair as floss

While most people don’t pluck a hair whenever they need to floss, somehow the idea became ubiquitous on TikTok. 

“Flossing daily can help eliminate plaque between teeth and prevent calculus from forming at the gum line,” Dr. Bonnaig says. “But it is important to use the correct tools because using the wrong ones, such as strands of hair, can cause trauma and lead to irreversible harm to the gums.” 

DIY plaque removal

Now you can get a plaque scraper on Amazon or other online retailers. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve got the skills to use the pro tool as some TikTokers suggest

“Plaque scrapers are sharp, and improper use can puncture and damage the gums, as well as cause excessive bleeding,” the dentist warns. “Gum trauma can prompt gum recession, root exposure and increased sensitivity to foods, beverages and pressure. It can also injure the tongue, cheeks and other areas of soft tissue, or bring on an infection.” 

Schedule a teeth cleaning at your local dentist’s office if plaque removal is what you need. 

DIY dentures

Yes, TikTokers have even started making their own dentures out of moldable plastic. Another big no-no according to dentists. 

“Avoid the use of moldable plastic to replace teeth as it is unhygienic and will result in food, bacteria and plaque getting caught around the plastic and around the teeth nearby. This can cause inflammation of the gums and bone, which can lead to permanent recession and bone loss,” the doctor says. 

Moreover, moldable plastic is also a choking hazard since it’s not as secure as real dentures. 

Drinking pineapple juice before having oral surgery

Dr. Bonnaig was also quick to dispel the TikTok myth that you should drink a gallon of pineapple juice before oral surgery to prevent post-surgical inflammation. Since most surgeries that require sedation would also require no drinking or eating after midnight before, the hack doesn’t really add up. 

The dentist says professionals have ways of mitigating these issues anyway. 

“It’s not something that you really have to take into your own hands, you know, to try to prevent it. We definitely have measures in place to help with that,” she says. 

Putting toothpaste in clear containers

If you’ve seen TikToks on transferring your toothpaste into a transparent container, keep scrolling. 

“You really shouldn’t be putting your toothpaste in like a clear container, basically, because, that’ll just make it less effective,” Dr. Bonnaig says. “It’s one of those things where there’s more air introduced into the tube as you’re replacing it.”

When it comes down to it, most “dental hacks” are best done in your dentist’s office than at home

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If you enjoyed this story, read about how this doctor “terrified” TikTok with a little-known coffee fact.

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