Gambling with DIY Dental
It’s amazing that there are so many people willing to believe what they read on the internet. Yet often enough we see patients in our practice who have been using home remedies and natural products to do DIY dental. They believe that they have been treating themselves for a problem, after researching online and self-diagnosing. In reality, they are gambling with their oral health and the outcome is often unpleasant.
Does reading a few blogs and Instagram posts qualify you as a dental professional? Most reasonable people would agree that it does not since becoming a dentist requires many years of schooling and ongoing education. Dentists are extensively well-trained to give advice on prevention, and safely diagnose and treat all kinds of oral health issues, and sometimes even other health problems. The first piece of advice any of us would give is to not believe what you read on the internet. Unless you read it here.
Tales From the Operatory
A recent case presented in our office is what prompted this blog. A patient came to us with swelling, and pain that she been experiencing for a while but had recently become more severe. She had been treating the affected area herself with essential oils, which the internet claims can cure anything. The pain had become so severe that she realized it was time for a dentist to take over. After an examination and x-ray, we could see that she already had a massive infection and bone loss so extensive that three teeth needed to be extracted. It didn’t have to end that way for this patient but DIY dental allowed the problem to get out of hand. Had it been properly addressed early on, the infection could have been dealt with, the patient would not have suffered, and would likely still have all of her teeth.
Double the Risk
So, self-diagnosing and using unproven remedies recommended by non-authoritative websites is risky because you let a problem that could have been solved early get out of control. That’s damage from inaction. The other risk you take with DIY dental methods is that some of the suggestions may actually cause damage from the procedure or the materials used. Teeth whitening is a perfect example.
Everyone wants whiter teeth, these days. Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening kits and internet quick fixes are appealing because they are easy to access and cheap compared to professional teeth whitening offered by your dentist. Admittedly, that’s a fair statement because baking soda and lemon juice are probably already in your kitchen while a Zoom! Teeth Whitening setup and dental professional to run it are probably not. However, let’s set that aside along with the fact that DIY teeth whitening methods are simply less effective, and don’t last as long. Instead, let’s focus on the damage that they can cause.
Many DIY methods advise you to use harsh or abrasive materials that will etch your tooth’s enamel. In the case of OTC kits, after the etching, you then apply what amounts to white paint to your teeth. Eventually, the paint particles wear off through brushing, eating and drinking and you are left with etched teeth that need repainting. The more often you repeat the treatments, the more enamel is etched away, and eventually, you’ll end up in our office with sensitivity or pain, cavities, and yellow teeth, needing a full set of veneers to repair the damage. Now here’s a piece of internet advice you can believe in—veneers cost a lot more than professional teeth whitening so avoid DIY teeth whitening at all costs!
Leave it to the Professionals Instead of Practicing DIY Dental
Helpful tips and advice found on the internet often seem easy and harmless but how do you know for sure? Typically, there is little evidence to back up the claims made for home remedies or DIY treatments. Therefore, unless a DIY dental remedy is recommended by dental professionals on a reputable website, you should probably just avoid it. Also, if you are experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity or other problems with your teeth or gums, don’t be a hero and try to treat it yourself. Visit your dentist and have it checked out. It may mean a little bit of dental work now, but it could avoid a lot of damage and additional dental restoration work in the future.