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Dentists warn against social media hacks

WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) – Dentists are noticing a disturbing trend among some of their patients trying “do it yourself” remedies at home on the advice of social media apps. It includes everything from whitening hacks to even trying to re-shape your teeth to improve your smile.

Dentists refer to 2022 as the year of catch-up for dentistry. Routine treatment wasn’t available during the pandemic, and some people decided to get creative.

“I’ve seen some people try and buy some things off Amazon to replace teeth or just give them something to improve their smile,” said dentist Jeremy Hoffman.

Now platforms like TikTok and YouTube are telling people they can do things like whiten their teeth at home. They encourage brushing with vinegar and soda or rubbing your teeth with citrus peels.

“That’s because it’s acidic and it’s eroding away your enamel, and that’s not reversible. That erosion damage is done,” Hoffman said.

Dr. Hoffman says removing enamel will eliminate surface stains, but the loss of protection from cavities and extra sensitivity isn’t worth the minor improvement.

“Getting deep down inside a tooth to whiten it, charcoal’s not going to do that, lemon peels aren’t going to do that, orange peels aren’t going to do that,” Hoffman said.

Some videos even encourage people to use a nail file to even out the shape of their teeth, but they aren’t as delicate or precise as dental tools and can also lead to enamel loss.

“In really severe cases it could erode that tooth enough where your teeth start to chip or break,” said Hoffman.

Another trend is taping the mouth during sleep to encourage breathing through your nose. Dr. Hoffman says that’s dangerous and you should consult your doctor instead.

“There are oral appliances that could be made for patients that have sleep apnea, sleep disorder breathing, snoring,” Hoffman said.

Even if a video shows results, what works for one person will not work for everyone.

“That’s the key to everything you see online. It might not be appropriate for you,” Hoffman said.

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