At-home dental treatments or DIY dentistry is a dangerous trend that is gaining popularity. This rise is in part due to the pandemic and the lack of access that people faced. However, as the pandemic nears its end, it is essential to emphasize the issues of performing dental treatments on yourself at home. It can cause severe and long-lasting damage.
Read on for the lowdown on DIY Dentistry:
What is DIY Dentistry?
Home dental treatments seem pretty self-explanatory. It is when patients try to take control of their dental care at home. It can include many things like teeth whitening, making braces, cavity filling, or even pulling your own teeth.
At home braces and aligners can move the teeth too quickly; they can cause damage to the bone and gums. They also are not as effective, and the chance of your teeth moving back is higher. Some people make their own braces out of elastic bands, or some people order aligners over the internet. When ordering aligners, it can seem safe because most businesses taut a qualified dentist’s input, but without seeing your teeth in person, it still carries risks.
Extracting teeth at home is most common among people who have a fear of the dentist or dental anxiety. They often ignore issues with their teeth until the pain becomes too much, then they extract the tooth themselves. Tooth extraction is a form of oral surgery and should be treated as such. If spotted soon enough, a dentist may be able to save the tooth. If they deem extraction necessary, they have the right tools to do it properly, including any numbing agents to make the extraction as painless as possible.
Filling your cavities at home is a risky procedure. You will not be able to tell the extent of the decay, and you won’t be able to tell how much the cavity is affecting your other teeth. If the decay is substantial, it may require more work to save than simply a cavity filling. Many DIY filling kits are available to buy online, but using foreign materials to fix a tooth is extremely dangerous; it could lead to an infection.
Even cosmetic dental procedures such as teeth whitening can be hazardous to attempt at home. There are a few popular methods of at-home teeth whitening, but they all have their drawbacks.
- Activated charcoal has become popular in recent years as supporters claim that it pulls the stains from the teeth and can leave you with a whiter smile. However, it can damage the enamel on the teeth as, depending on what you are using, it can be quite abrasive. Enamel doesn’t regenerate once it’s gone; it’s gone, which can make teeth more susceptible to further issues such as cavities and decay.
- Oil pulling is also gaining traction, and the method itself has been around for thousands of years. Swilling oil around your mouth for up to twenty minutes is meant to kill bacteria and whiten teeth. Whilst there is no evidence of adverse side effect, there is also no evidence of effectiveness.
- Baking soda is not a new trend, but it remains as popular as ever – there is even some toothpaste that uses it as a selling point. Unlike activated charcoal and oil pulling, there is more evidence to support the effectiveness of baking soda as a teeth whitener, but not much. Additionally, baking soda is also an abrasive substance and can lead you into the same pitfalls as activated charcoal does.
- Lemon juice is another risky method of teeth whitening gaining popularity. It is being used similarly to the oil pulling method in that people are swishing it around their mouths to whiten teeth. Lemon juice is incredibly acidic and incredibly bad for tooth enamel; too much acid in your diet can be bad for your teeth, let alone using it to try and whiten teeth.
- Hydrogen peroxide is the crucial ingredient in professional tooth whitening, but it needs to be appropriately administered. It is bleach; people have been swilling this around their mouths and painting it on their teeth. It can be incredibly dangerous and lead to burns and wounds and severe damage to the teeth. It should only be administered by a dentist or following a dentist’s instructions.
Dentists have to go through between four and six years of school – depending on the programme – to become qualified before practising. Dental conditions are far more complex than people realize, and they require a strategic approach to treatments. Dental procedures should always be performed by a professional. When you complete a dental procedure on yourself, there is a strong likelihood that you will make it worse and turn it into a more significant issue that takes longer and is more expensive to resolve.
Indeed, some of the DIY methods are not so much harmful as they are ineffective, and they only result in a waste of time and effort. However, some ways are dangerous and can cause harmful side effects that can lead to an infection, an abnormal bite, or even the loss of teeth in the worst case. When you visit the dentist, they use sterile tools in a controlled environment. This cannot be duplicated in your home.
Why Do People Attempt it?
There can be many factors in someone’s decision to try and perform dental treatments on themselves at home. One of the most common reasons is fear. Some people are terrified by the idea of going to the dentist and so would instead take matters into their own hands even if it is detrimental to their oral health.
Another factor costs; some people would instead attempt the cheaper alternatives at home because they can’t afford the actual treatment. However, home treatments are often more expensive in the long run because of the other issues they can lead to.
Finally, people feel that they simply do not have the time to go to the dentist for these treatments, and so they do them at home when they have a spare minute, but again when these at-home treatments cause more issues, it becomes a more considerable time commitment to try and fix them.
What is the Alternative?
To state the obvious – going to the dentist. Oral health can have a massive impact on your day-to-day life. It is worth spending some money for the health of your mouth. There are many dentists out there, some are more budget-friendly than others, but some people prefer to view their oral hygiene as an investment in themselves. The mouth and the teeth can be a focal point and provide the first impression when meeting new people, so it is vital to make sure it is good. If you are ready to invest in yourself and your mouth, check out Pure Dentistry, a private dental clinic in Brisbane which is run by highly experienced dentists who use the latest technology to give you a smile that you want.
As the effects of the pandemic begin to taper, things open back up, and normalcy resumes, there is no need to attempt dental treatments at home. DIY dentistry may seem like the more accessible, cheaper option, but it could be costly in more ways than one in the long run. The only treatments you should be putting your teeth through at home is brushing and flossing or anything that your dentist has given you, such as retainers or mouth guards.
*Photos by Pavel Danilyuk