Let’s face it: It’s way easier (and more fun) to get oral health advice from social media rather than your dentist. A dental visit can seem annoying, expensive and potentially painful; combine that with the rise of information on platforms like TikTok and you’ve got a quick fix.
“TikTok is not my first place to go for health information,” said Dee Dee Meevasin, a dentist in Las Vegas. Some suggestions may end up leading to costly repairs and painful dental procedures, and in some cases, can do irreparable damage.
Not all dentists are against using social media sources for medical information, but Casey Lau, a dentist in Northridge, California and chief dental officer at Elims, said to check with your own dentist before trying any trend you see. “Anything that can bring more dental awareness is kind of a cool thing, so I’m not really against [TikTok] per se, as it creates talking points for us, so I’m sort of all for it.”
Famous TikTok dentists can be effective communicators for young audiences especially. Take Benjamin Winters, a Texas-based orthodontist known on the app as “the Bentist.” Winters has 11 million followers and uses comical videos to teach viewers about their oral health.
That said, there are some popular TikTok dental trends most experts recommend skipping, no matter how legit they seem. Here’s what to watch out for:
Using A Magic Eraser On Coffee Stains ...
You can’t deny that a Magic Eraser is, well, magical. It gets up tons of marks and stains around your house. Can it do the same for your teeth, as one TikTok trend implies? Absolutely not.
Winters reacted with outrage at people using the cleaning device to lift stains from their pearly whites in a YouTube video with over 2,300,000 views. Lau felt similarly.
“This is the one that freaks me out,” Lau said of the trend. The TikTok user who started the trend didn’t want to use fluoride ― a product made for your teeth ― “but she wanted to take something that’s meant to strip the crayons off your walls, and disinfect things that probably need that level of scraping,” he said.
Lau warned that Magic Erasers are made of melamine, which is “a very hard, abrasive material ... it’s not really whitening, it’s actually bringing the natural whiteness of the layers below [by] scraping away the top layer of your tooth too.”
Meevasin added that people need to understand the gravity of using the cleaning product on teeth. “They don’t repair themselves, they don’t grow back,” she said. “You’re going to be really sensitive ... you’ll have it to have it repaired with a filling or a crown.”
... Or Using Charcoal Toothpaste For The Same Reason
Meevasin is also concerned about the charcoal toothpaste trend, which uses the same “whitening” process as the Magic Eraser, noting that the product can be abrasive and “not safe.” “I wish they never came out with it,” she said.
Brian Luong, a dentist in Anaheim Hills, California said he “cringes” at TikTok dental trends. “Repairing your teeth and mouth after some of these DIY experiments are long, painful and expensive. So unless the TikTok account you’re looking at has a DDS in the name, don’t take dental advice from them,” he said.
Chugging Pineapple Juice Before Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed
TikTok users are trying hard to avoid that swollen chipmunk cheek look following wisdom teeth surgery, and are claiming that consuming pineapple juice in the hours leading up to the surgery will prevent this. User Valeriagreenz, who has nearly 70,000 followers, posted a TikTok of her drinking 64 ounces of pineapple juice before her surgery, revealing no swelling the next day.
“Pineapple juice contains slight amounts of bromelain which has mild anti-inflammatory benefits,” said Joseph Field, a dentist in Los Altos, California. However, he noted, the amount you would have to drink to achieve results “would have significant negative health consequences.” Instead, he recommends ibuprofen and ice.
Another concern is that most surgeries require general anesthesia, which means that patients aren’t supposed to eat or drink for six to eight hours before surgery, Meevasin explained.
“It’s a huge risk. What happens is when you are being put under anesthesia, your reflexes are put to sleep as well, so your gag reflex is no longer going to work,” Meevasin said. “If liquid comes back up, you are going to choke on it, and it can go into your lungs. It’s possibly very harmful.”
She said consuming food or liquid beforehand is only OK for local anesthesia surgeries, and in that case might even help you to go into surgery well-hydrated. But you should talk with your physicians first before doing anything.
Using Glue-Based Products On Your Teeth
One TikTok user recently detailed how he tried to apply vampire fangs with super glue, and the results weren’t pretty. Of all of the TikTok trends, the experts we spoke to were most familiar with patients gluing something on their teeth with adhesives you might find in a hardware store.
Meevasin said she’s seen patients use super glue, which she calls “toxic,” to reattach things that have fallen out of their mouths, such as chipped teeth or crowns.
“It’s bonded to your teeth, so we would probably have to shave it off, and you might get a little bit of the first layer of the tooth with it,” she explained.
There is no safe glue for your teeth. If something does come off your teeth — like a crown, for example — you can use a temporary over-the-counter adhesive kit to tide you over until you can get to the dentist.
Why People Follow These Fads In The First Place
While some of these trends seem wild, the reason behind many of them is not: There’s a real fear ― of both the cost and the pain ― of official procedures at the dentist. Research suggests around 36% of Americans have dental anxiety, with 12% having extreme dental fear.
“When you’re too broke to pay for a dentist, you have to use ‘alternate’ methods,” one commenter wrote on Winters’ reaction video to the Magic Eraser trend. It’s a valid point. Field hopes people just consider the risk, which “could have severe and irreversible consequences.”
If you’re ever in doubt, look up resources backed by credible organizations like the American Dental Association. You can also call your local dentist. While social media trends may sound like a remarkable solution, they could have even more expensive and painful outcomes.