Clinician's Corner: Dental dangers on TikTok

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December 17th, 2021

Social media platforms like TikTok reach millions of users. Popular posts often offer advice, tips, tricks or “hacks” on tons of subjects including makeup, fashion and cooking. Posts or “hacks” containing medical or dental information should be approached very carefully, as they can result in dangerous or even fatal consequences. Some dental trends on TikTok can cause tooth pain and damage to your mouth. Before you make any changes to your dental routine or consider any of the methods seen on social media, contact a dental professional.

Here are a few dental topics currently going around on TikTok and why you should avoid them:

Illustration of nail file in mouth making contact with teeth. Nail file labeled "not a good idea." The image is crossed out with a red circle and slash mark

Tooth filing—

TikTok has shown people using nail files on their teeth to file down uneven ends or flatten the points of their canine teeth. This is a very dangerous idea. Teeth are protected by a layer of enamel on the outside. This coating protects the inner structure, including the nerve and blood supply. Filing the ends of your teeth can damage your enamel, cause pain and is costly to fix.

If you have concerns or are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, you should speak with a licensed dental professional.

Illustration of a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide placed beside a toothbrush. There is a red circle with a slash mark through it over the top of the image, indicating this method should not be used for teeth whitening.

Teeth whitening-

A “whitening hack” that can be found on TikTok is directly applying over-the-counter 3% hydrogen peroxide to your teeth. This is a no-no. Using hydrogen peroxide on teeth can cause gum inflammation and tooth sensitivity. Frequent use can also lead to an unattractive and scary looking problem called Black Hairy Tongue (which is exactly what it sounds like). It comes from disrupting the normal amount of bacteria and yeast in your mouth. To whiten your teeth, you should use the products specifically designed and tested for this purpose (such as whitening strips), and of course, seek the advice of a dental professional.

Eating frozen honey-

A snack that has recently gone viral on social media is frozen honey (or candy-studded corn syrup). This super sweet, taffy-like substance is not good for your teeth. First, the high natural sugar content can cause cavities. Second, the stickiness of honey could damage dental fillings and cause the wires or brackets on braces to break. When the frozen honey or corn syrup softens and melts, it will sink into the grooves and spaces between teeth. You should brush carefully to clean this off your teeth afterward. Also, eating large amounts of honey can cause stomachaches and diarrhea.

This information in this post is for general educational purposes only and does not warrant or represent any information as related to health as specifically appropriate for you. It is not intended to be medical advice or replace the relationship that you have with your health care providers. You should always seek medical advice on any diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. The information is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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