DIY Dentistry and the Dangers With It

January 6, 2020
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Now that the 2020 has arrived, some of us are thinking about goals for the new year.  One of them might be to improve your smile.  When researching how to fix your smile you might run across a recently popular yet potentially dangerous trend called DIY dentistry.  Although it may seem like a cheaper option at first, the perils of DIY dentistry is huge and can lead to long term problems in your mouth.  So before you think about treating yourself we’d like to share some common complications that can occur with DIY dentistry.

Extractions

Most of us know the old tale of tying a string around a baby tooth and closing the door to pull it out.  But removing teeth before they are loose or need to come out can wreck havoc in the mouth.  Pulling a tooth early may lead to the tooth breaking and becoming infected or teeth shifting.

There are online videos out there showing you how to use pliers to pull your own tooth.   This can be extremely dangerous since most likely the tooth will break, allowing exposure of the nerve.  Attempting this can also harm the other surrounding teeth, gums and bone.  You can even break your own jaw by causing a fracture.

If it is a top tooth that is near the sinus there is a possibility of exposing your sinus.  Remember that your dentist and oral surgeon have the x-rays and training in anatomy.  We have the tools to determine and prevent complications and to treat these complications if they occur.  Trying to pull your own tooth, especially with unsterile tools, can worsen complications.

Whitening

DIY whitening can be harmful to your teeth and gums.  Harsh chemicals or abrasive materials in whitening products can strip your teeth of not only the stains but of the protective layer of the tooth called the enamel.  This can lead to increased sensitivity and cavities.  Powerful chemicals in whitening products can lead to sensitivity or burning in the gums.  It is important to consult your dentist when it comes to whitening and to look for ADA approved symbols on products.

Fillings

There are several over the counter temporary filling materials for sale out there.  These materials are to be used to cover a hole in your tooth until you can see your dentist but some people use it as a permanent option.  Using these fillings permanently is not recommended.  When you cover up the cavity you also cover up the bacteria in the cavity, allowing it to grow.  When a professional places a filling they will remove the bacteria and decayed part of the tooth first.  If the bacteria is not removed it spreads until it hits the nerve.  Eventually this leads to pain, abscesses or spread of the infection to other parts of the body.

Cleanings

In the dental aisle of your store you can find tools that look like the same tools used at your cleaning appointments.  As tempting as it is to save some money and skip your checkup and cleaning appointment and try to clean your teeth yourself this can lead to dental issues.  

First, you cannot see all your teeth or see them as well as someone else who is trained to evaluate your mouth.  This makes it difficult for you to thoroughly clean your teeth.  Leaving behind tarter can lead to periodontal disease which destroys your gum tissue and bone. 

Your hygienist and dentist have been trained to use their hands gently.  Cleaning your teeth too aggressively can damage your gums or teeth.  

Also since most likely you do not have sterilization equipment laying around your house.  When instruments aren’t properly sterilized they can act like a breeding ground for the bacteria collected from your mouth.

Last, without an exam, underlying issues cannot be addressed.  Cavities that aren’t caught can lead to larger problems later down the road, such as infections or abscesses.

Braces

A recently popular trend is DIY braces including clear aligners and using orthodontics bands to close gaps in your teeth.  Without a trained dentist or orthodontist to supervise your treatment there is the possibility that you permanently damage your mouth. The most common damage is gum and bone loss.  Not to mention you might not get the results you want.  Moving compromised teeth can lead to premature loss of the tooth.  This case shows the dangers of DIY dentistry when using bands to close gaps in your teeth.

Removing your own braces is also dangerous if DIY.  While removing the bracket you can accidentally remove part of the enamel or tooth.  Also not removing the cement causes staining or food and plaque accumulation, leading to more serious issues like cavities or gum disease.

Although DIY dentistry may seem like a cheap way to take care of your teeth, it is extremely dangerous.  By trying to save a few bucks you can end up potentially spending lots of money to fix the mess up.  The best way to take care of your teeth is through proper oral hygiene and visiting your dentist. 

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After a new patient exam and x-rays are completed.
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