Dangerous trends on social media

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The internet is a vast trove of information people use to research, investigate and DIY. This includes social media which has boomed over the years as an indispensable tool for handy tips from cooking to cleaning. But the situation can turn dire when it is used to post misleading and dangerous information on health and beauty, including DIY dental procedures.

One social platform which has been used in recent years to post horrifying dental procedures is TikTok. TikTok can be a valuable source of information, but it is also used to share ways to avoid the dentist, from DIY whitening to homemade braces. One of the dangerous trends that went viral was the tooth-filing debacle where people were filing their teeth into narrow pegs so that they can be fitted with crowns, or in some cases, what they believed were veneers.

So, what are the dangerous trends you should be aware on TikTok?

Teeth Filing

Videos show young people using a nail file to file to straighten their teeth. Dentists are warning people not to file their teeth because it can damage the tooth’s enamel, develop cavities and cause sensitivity, tooth fractures, and infection. A damaged enamel can expose the tooth nerve, which can be painful and require expensive, repairs, including crowns and fillings.

Home Made Braces

A recent video which has been viewed 9.5 million times shows a young woman who wraps her front teeth with several elastic hair ties to close a gap between her front teeth in three days. She also posted a follow-up video showing off her alleged results. However, dentists have warned this practice can restrict blood flow to teeth, potentially changing their colour 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.

Prosthetic Teeth

A TikTok trend that young people love is creating their own teeth using arts and crafts supplies. One such material is InstaMorph which is a lightweight polyester thermoplastic. InstaMorph acts like clay when warm but turns into a strong plastic after cooling down. People have tried moulding InstaMorph beads into various shapes, to repair or replace teeth but these can be a choking hazard.

Teeth Whitening

There are multiple videos on TikTok where people use hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth. While hydrogen peroxide is used in whitening strips, the percentage of the chemical varies and should only be prescribed by a dentist. Hydrogen peroxide when used without understanding its effects can lead to irritated gums and potentially long-term sensitivity.

Some TikTokers also show videos using a mixture of household cleaning agents which contain very acidic ingredients that can easily weaken tooth enamel, cause cavities and even make the teeth look darker in some cases.

However tempted you may be to check out TikTok videos on teeth whitening or teeth filling, do not attempt on yourself or others. In addition to causing potential long-term damage, you will also face expensive repairs to fix the teeth. If you are curious about such dental trends, you need to talk to your dentist first.

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