Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: social media

7 dangerous dental trends from TikTok

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?

Do-it-yourself orthodontics

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 the 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!

Users have also recently posted videos in which they apply 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly to their teeth to whiten them. Others have promoted flossing with human hair.

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 employees?

To help your employees and their children avoid the costly and potentially irreparable damage these TikTok dental tips can cause, consider taking these steps:

  • Email or text your employees, particularly the parents of teens, to alert them to these trends and warn them of the dangers.
  • Post information on your company’s social media about the danger of these fads and alternatives.
  • Remind employees that their dental benefits offer safe ways to fix imperfect smiles, such as cleanings and possibly orthodontics or professional teeth whitening.
  • Since cost savings is one of the appeals of these TikTok trends, remind employees that under most plans, cleanings and exams are available to them at low or no cost.

Teeth filing a dangerous trend for teens

A troubling trend has emerged on social media during the coronavirus outbreak: DIY teeth filing with household items such as nail files.

In June 2020, a 19-year-old TikTok user named Mia Dio posted a video of herself filing her teeth with a nail file. The video went viral. After being watched nearly a half million times, numerous TikTok videos have been posted showing young people filing their teeth.

Wait, what? Why would anyone do this?

In the video, Dio explains that she wants to remove imperfections in her teeth, but doesn’t want to spend the money for a professional procedure, such as an enameloplasty.

“We’re ballin’ on a budget!” she said.

Later in a Washington Post interview, Dio also said that she was reluctant to visit a dental during the current coronavirus pandemic. The TikTok videos also imply some confusion about the nature of tooth enamel which, unlike nails and hair, doesn’t regenerate.

Filing teeth can destroy tooth enamel, cause temperature sensitivity or injure teeth, which can result in costly dental procedures or even extraction.

Yikes! So what can I do about this?

Many dental professionals have taken proactive steps to ensure their patients and their families don’t try this. Some have decided to fight fire with fire by posting their own TikTok videos warning people about the danger of the practice.

To spread the word to your employees, steps you might consider include the following:

  • Send an email to your employees that explains this trend and warns them about the dangers. This may be especially effective for the parents of teens, who may not be aware of what their children watch on social media.
  • Post information on your company’s website, Facebook page or social media feed about the danger of this fad and safe alternatives.
  • Suggest safe alternatives for imperfect smiles that may be available through your company’s dental policy, such as cleanings, orthodontics, cosmetic procedures and professional teeth whitening.
  • Remind your employees that they can safely visit the dentist during the pandemic for any procedure they might need

However you choose to discuss it, ensure that your employees and their children understand that filing their own teeth is a terrible idea. And that the resulting damage can take a real bite out of their wallet.

As Dio said later in the Post interview, after she was explained what the risks were, “I probably would have thought twice about it.”

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