The do-it-yourself trend is alive and well in our world. Unfortunately, it's also spilling over into dental care and orthodontics, and that can be a big problem. Some of the latest DIY dental trends include using charcoal or lemon juice to whiten teeth, self-fitting snore guards and even DIY braces. The internet is alive with these how-to's, many of which have been posted by teens. Some of these DIY dental trends can be dangerous and lead to long term damage to your teeth.
Lots of people would like to have whiter teeth. Powdered charcoal and lemon juice are two popular DIY options. Charcoal hasn't been scientifically tested as a whitener, so while it might work, but no one knows what the long-term effects may be. It's abrasive and may damage teeth. Also, charcoal could make the problem worse if it wears away tooth enamel and stains the lower layers of the teeth. The acids in lemon juice are known to erode enamel, which can lead to serious problems down the road.
Some people who are looking for straighter teeth are using rubber bands, self-molded mouth guards and other materials like paper clips to move the teeth into better alignment. This practice has multiple risks. First, orthodontics takes all dental issues into account – crooked teeth, gaps, overbites, underbites and jaw size and alignment. It's a complicated process that requires professional knowledge. Second, some of these treatments can be dangerous. A rubber band that gets tightly embedded next to the gum can't be removed and may lead to infection. Paper clips can damage gums or even break teeth.
There are Safer Options
Dentists offer teeth whitening treatments and can advise you on the use of at-home treatments as well. Over-the-counter products may be quite effective for minor stains, but even those can be misused, so professional advice is beneficial. Yes, braces are expensive, but so is the treatment for infections or damage to teeth and gums. DIY braces and whitening treatments can cause serious problems that may lead you to need extensive restorative work just to get your teeth to a healthy state.
Parental Guidance Recommended
Teens often get much of their information online. While that can be a good option in some cases, in others, it carries considerable risk. Parents should discuss the potential pitfalls of DIY dental trends with their teens and younger children. As a parent, it's also a good idea to supervise your child's internet use. You should pay attention to their comments about their appearance; a teen who keeps talking about wanting whiter teeth may just decide to take a leap into a DIY whitener.
While oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing are definitely DIY projects, professional recommendations and treatment are better and safer for teeth whitening and braces. Please call us at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry if you have questions or concerns about these DIY dental trends.