Every time you turn around, there’s a new “fad” for teeth. Whether it’s a famous singer’s dental jewelry or a DIY toothpaste that promises cheap, life-changing results – how can you know what’s safe for your teeth and what isn’t?
Grand Parkway Smiles dentists want to warn you about a few fads you should think twice about:
Charcoal and DIY Teeth Whitening
If you’ve been on Pinterest or Facebook in the past couple of months, we can bet that you’ve seen a DIY teeth whitening post involving activated charcoal. Older DIY methods might have even involved rubbing lemon on your teeth, brushing with abrasives such as baking soda, or rinsing with a homemade peroxide solution.
Here’s the thing…all these DIY methods can make your teeth look whiter — at first — but it goes downhill from there.
Why? Because each of these methods is extremely abrasive or erosive to your tooth enamel. When you etch off the surface layer, it leaves your enamel dried out and white in color. But go a step further and it erodes more than just the surface layer. Suddenly, your teeth have thin enamel and a yellower shade than ever before. The microscope surface scratches mean your teeth pick up extra stains in the long run.
Once the protective enamel covering your teeth is damaged, your pearly whites also become more susceptible to cavities, thanks to the bacteria that can now penetrate the tooth more easily. In the end, you’ll wish that you had just safely (and affordably) whitened your teeth with the help of a professional instead of setting yourself up for a trip to see a Houston root canal dentist!
A “grill” is a snap-on gold or even diamond-plated device that covers your teeth. When someone smiles, you see a mouth full of glimmer. Grills are especially popular with rappers and individuals with a love for urban styles. While the concept of a grill seems harmless, they can wreak havoc on beautiful, healthy teeth.
We usually see two types of grills:
Permanent grills: These are the gold crowns with cut-outs and diamonds built into them. They’re a permanent part of your smile, the same way a porcelain crown would be. Unfortunately, getting them requires drilling down virgin teeth so that the gold crowns fit over them. If you have healthy teeth, this is just setting you up for a lifetime of dental work. After all, crowns gradually wear out and need to be replaced. Once you choose this type of prosthesis, there’s no going back.
Removable grills: Maybe you don’t want something permanent, but would rather have a grill that snaps over your teeth like a retainer. It’s removable and can be worn at your preference. But here’s the problem: wearing the cover over your teeth all day long allows bacteria to thrive and multiply along your teeth and gums. People with healthy teeth may find that they suddenly develop multiple cavities or gingivitis across their smile. If you go for this type of a dental grill, be sure to remove it a few times a day, brush your teeth after every meal, add fluoride into your hygiene routine, keep your grill clean, and rinse your mouth out frequently.
Tooth jewelry is like a filling or bonded restoration on your tooth that’s made of gold or small jewels. One example is Katy Perry’s Nike “swoosh” on the left side of her smile. If you want dental jewelry, you should opt for the type that’s completely reversible and bonded on the outer surface instead of the enamel being drilled down to fit the jewelry into place. The altered version requires damaging your healthy tooth. However, the surface-bonded alternative might fall off more easily and get lost while you’re eating a meal.
One of the newest fads is at-home teeth straightening. These DIY braces are made from an impression you take at home, mail off to a 3rd party lab, and then get “aligners” sent back to you.
There are a few problems here. First of all, impression material can get significantly warped during the transfer process. This would change the shape of your “bite” before it gets to the lab (and it’s the reason why dentists pour your models immediately on the day you get impressions in a dental office.)
Second, you don’t have anyone available to monitor whether or not the movement is causing secondary damage to your smile. Yes, it’s true…if done improperly, braces can cause harm to your teeth and gums. That’s why your dentist or orthodontist needs to monitor your treatment every six weeks or so.
DIY braces are basically the same thing as gluing a crown back on with superglue…you don’t know what’s going to happen as result! In the end, you may wind up needing to see a Houston dentist to repair the damage.
“Regrowing” Tooth Enamel So You Don’t Need a Filling
We can’t talk about harmful DIY dental fads without bringing up this one. There are Pinterest Pins and blogs all across the internet devoted to the topic of regrowing your tooth enamel so that you don’t need a filling.
But here’s the problem: decayed tooth enamel can’t regrow. Scientists are just now trying to find ways to make it happen in laboratories, but as of yet it’s not something that’s possible in everyday dentistry.
However…you can remineralize weakened enamel that is starting to decalcify. Let’s say your tooth is starting to get a cavity, but the actual structural loss isn’t there yet. If you add minerals such as prescription strength fluoride to the enamel, it can remineralize and the decay process could be halted. But if there’s a hole in your tooth, you will never be able to “grow” the structure back and fill the hole back in. It’s just not scientifically possible. Don’t waste precious time to get the cavity repaired by a professional, or a Houston root canal dentist just may be the next person you’d have to go see.
At Grand Parkway Smiles, we are happy to answer any questions about your smile or DIY dental tips. We won’t judge! Call us today to schedule your next visit.