Written by: Sarah Tevis Poteet, DDS (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
To compensate for convenience and cost, many Americans are opting for “Do-It-Yourself Dentistry.” Whether through instructional videos or mail-order kits, adults of all ages are trying teeth DIYs.
As a dentist, it is important to stay on top of trends that your patients are asking about. The internet is often the first source people seek information from before making decisions. A recent search on YouTube for “do it yourself dentistry” resulted in over 2,520,000 results. Everything from tooth extraction to filling cavities to do-it-yourself orthodontics is shown in graphic detail. A google search may show steps and instructions on how to prep a tooth and make a homemade crown. This is scary and can harm the public in so many ways.
DIY dentistry trends include:
- Mail order braces and mouth guards
- Whitening lights and bleaching products
- Pulling teeth at home
- Super glue to hold in fillings/crowns
- Fillings and crowns made done at home
- Multi-level marketing of toothpastes/products
- Charcoal, coconut oil, essential oil home remedies
- Healthcare apps for symptom checking/advice
While many of these activities do not cause irreversible damage, they do cause confusion, especially as to whether or not they are preventing or curing decay and gum disease. For example, breaking open activated charcoal capsules onto a toothbrush has not been shown to provide any benefit and may in fact cause abrasion of enamel and tooth sensitivity. In many cases, patients order home kits to take their own impressions and are then sending them into a non-dentist to make mouthguards and orthodontic appliances.
Good advice to give patients is to seek regular dental care. An ounce of prevention can help reduce the chance of dental emergencies. Let them know that before a big trip to another country or remote area, visit a dentist well enough in advance so that there is enough time to get work done if needed.
The truth is that most dental DIYs are downright dangerous. We should be aware of these trends and educate our patients on how they can cause complications far more serious than a Pinterest fail. Savvy clinicians are encouraged to monitor trends and be prepared to provide patients with evidence-based education.