By Yobel Petros ‘24
As social media continues to advance, individuals are able to amplify their voices and reach wider audiences. Currently, there’s an increasing focus on oral health, a vital aspect of daily life, as it holds functions like chewing, tasting, smiling, and speaking. Influencers flaunting dental procedures such as veneers, Invisalign, and braces have sparked a desire for similar perfect smiles. However, these treatments can be financially out of reach for many. Therefore, people on social media showcase cost-effective DIY methods for achieving brighter teeth, cleaner oral hygiene, and fresher breath, using readily available products from local stores. The key question is whether these DIY dentistry practices genuinely offer benefits or potentially cause more harm than good.
Baking Soda: A Toothpaste and Whitening Substitute
Baking soda can be effective in whitening teeth, but it should be used with caution due to potential side effects. According to Family Dentist, unlike toothpaste, baking soda doesn’t have antibacterial properties, making it less effective at fighting harmful bacteria. Using it often as a teeth-whitening method can lead to the build-up of plaque and an increased risk of cavities. While it can brighten your smile, it also has the potential to harm tooth enamel, causing tooth sensitivity, which can affect everyday activities like eating and drinking hot or cold beverages. In addition, individuals with braces should avoid using baking soda, as it may deteriorate the glue that holds braces in place, leading to additional expenses.
Right from the beginning, I strongly advise avoiding getting braces from anyone who isn’t an orthodontist or has a DDS degree because there are absolutely no benefits and just potential risks to your oral health. If there is no orthodontist available to do the procedure, whether you do it yourself or with a friend, you run the risk of permanently damaging not only your teeth but also the rest of your mouth. Without experience and ability, putting on braces won’t be exact, making it impossible to try to move your teeth. As a result, teeth may move more quickly than they should, which could cause them to become less intact at the root and cause a tooth to fall out. Additionally, improper brace placement can have an impact on the jaw joints, clenching, shooting pain, and muscle spasms. DIY braces are not worth it at all because you will likely still wind up with misaligned teeth in addition to lost teeth.
Oil pulling is a practice that has been used to clean teeth since at least 5,000 years ago in India according to Sinada Dental. It has been used as a medical treatment for centuries to strengthen the teeth, gums, and jaw as well as to prevent tooth decay, poor breath, bleeding gums, dry throat, and cracked lips. Oral pulling involves swishing oil, such as coconut oil, around in your mouth for three to twenty minutes. As evidenced by a study by Sinada Dental in which oil pulling significantly decreased the number of bacteria in 60 individuals. Additionally, research revealed that coconut oil was equally as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash at lowering bacteria in kids, leading to both healthier teeth and fresher breath. Oil pulling is a very helpful DIY trend that I would also advocate for, but as it lacks toothpaste’s antibacterial characteristics, I advise brushing immediately after.
The practice of tongue scraping has recently become popular on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. You can do this by sticking your tongue out and attempting to scrape off as much of the white residue as you can with a spoon or a real tooth scraper. According to Everyday Health, Studies have revealed that while it had no impact on dental plaque, it did in fact reduce the number of bacteria on the tongue. In return, people experienced cleaner breath and improved taste. Although this DIY trend isn’t as beneficial as oil pulling, it is nonetheless useful and something you should think about incorporating into your routine.
Family dentist – brushing with baking soda faqs. Stunning Smiles of Lake Forest Lake Forest California. (2019, May 7). https://stunningsmilesoflakeforest.com/blog/family-dentist-brushing-with-baking-soda-faqs/
Sinada Dental. (2020, March 4). What oil pulling can do for your oral health. https://sinadadental.com/what-oil-pulling-can-do-for-your-oral-health/
Bedosky, L., Millard, E., Macht, H., Upham, B., Lawler, M., Levine, B., & Bedosky, L. (n.d.). Possible health benefits of tongue scraping. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/potential-health-benefits-of-tongue-scraping/