TikTok has sprouted a number of unhealthy trends that dental professionals need to be aware of.
Social media platforms have started and spread some fun and encouraging trends; consider how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and, more recently, the quarantine family Olympics have gone viral just within the last several years. But just as these entertaining trends pop up, so too can dangerous ones.
Take, for instance, the ‘Kylie Jenner lip challenge’, where teens would use a shot glass or bottle to suction their lips in the effort to get the appearance of the reality star’s plump lips. Then there was the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’, where teens would eat laundry detergent and post the videos online.
TikTok, the popular short-form video app that allows users to post 15 to 60-second videos, has been the genesis of several of these kinds of challenges, several include dental health trends that are harmful to teeth, usually with irreversible effects.
Here are some of the most dangerous dental challenges trending on TikTok.
*Do not try this at home! Always consult your dental healthcare professional before attempting any DIY “hacks”.
These TikTok videos show young people using a nail file to file down their teeth to make them aligned. This can damage the tooth’s enamel, leaving you prone to sensitivity, tooth fractures, and infection. And as every dental professional knows, once damaged, enamel cannot be replaced. Filing your teeth can also affect your occlusion (your bite or the way your teeth fit together) and even expose the tooth nerve, which can be painful. This can lead to extensive, not to mention expensive, repairs, including crowns and fillings.
Image courtesy of teethtalkgirl.com.
Similarly, the trend known as “veneers check” involves using a file on your teeth. The apparent goal of this trend is to file the teeth down to little pegs in order to show before and after photos of the person’s new smile. Of course, these TikTokers are actually having crown restorations placed, which is quite different than veneers. These videos have caught the attention of Dr Shaadi Manouchehri, who posts warnings about these types of fads to her own TikTok channel.
Dr Manouchehri, who is a London-based dentist with post-graduate training in restorative dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery, told BuzzFeed News, “I was horrified when I first came across this trend...I didn’t understand why young people with seemingly healthy and aesthetic teeth were having their teeth shaved down to pegs, and why they were referring to these restorations as veneers.”
Not only is removing tooth structure irreversible as it can never grow back, but it can also compromise the tooth nerve and can cause long-term side-effects such as sensitivity, infection, and the potential need for a root canal, according to Dr Manouchehri.
Images courtesy of BuzzFeed.
TikTokers are using 3% hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth, a behavior that can lead to irritated gums and potentially long-term sensitivity, according to Waterpik spokesperson Chris Strandburg, DDS.
In the video, a TikToker by the name @clauds244 uses a cotton swab to apply the hydrogen peroxide to her teeth at least 4 days in a row. Her reasoning is that 3% hydrogen peroxide is the same ingredient used in whitening strips, so her “hack” is supposed to be a cheaper way to achieve the same effect. And while hydrogen peroxide is used in whitening strips, it’s used in a much smaller quantity in the United Kingdom (where @clauds244 is based). In the UK, the legal amount for non-dental professionals is 0.1%, according to health.com.
In the US, whitening products can contain up anywhere from 3 to 20% hydrogen peroxide, while whitening strips specifically can contain up to 15%. For this reason, Dr Strandburg says, the chemical shouldn’t be used multiple days in a row, if it’s used at all. For best results, always consult your dental professional before attempting any home dental “hacks”.
Image courtesy of health.com.