Beware of Inaccurate Dental Health Advice on TikTok
TikTok Videos: Full of the Best and Worst Dental Health Advice
Social media is full of surprises. When we thought there couldn’t possibly be any more social media platforms, considering Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s wild success, along comes TikTok. This new platform that appeals mostly to the younger demographic allows users to post brief lip-synced music, comedy, or talent-focused videos. TikTok’s quick rise to fame provides a glimpse into youth and young adults’ appetite for video content.
Unfortunately, today’s youth doesn’t have the skills and experience necessary to identify accurate or inaccurate information. TikTok influencers have shared numerous videos encouraging this strategy or that tactic to improve oral health. These videos are created and posted without participation, support, or approval from dentists, and in many cases, following this dental health advice can do far more harm than good.
Social media is full of false and inaccurate claims. Take this pill and lose 10 pounds in one week, or drink this and feel 10 years younger. Unfortunately, these claims aren’t true. Sure, it may seem like these strategies work, but what happens when you stop taking the magic pill or start drinking regular beverages again? The weight comes back or the aging resumes, and often with a vengeance.
The same concept is true with some dental health advice offered on TikTok. Though it may seem like the advice is easy or makes sense, in most cases, TikTok dental health advice should never be entertained or tried without first consulting your dentist.
Hydrogen peroxide should not be used for teeth whitening.
A popular video floating around TikTok erroneously suggests that applying 3% hydrogen peroxide to your teeth using cotton swabs is an easy and inexpensive way to whiten your teeth. While this process will whiten teeth, what UK-based TikToker @clauds244 doesn’t say is that 3% hydrogen peroxide is over the legal percentage that is permissible for use by non-dental professionals in the United Kingdom.
Though whitening strips in the United States can contain anywhere between 3% to 20% hydrogen peroxide, these products’ warnings suggest that these strips should not be used every day. Most dental professionals will warn patients that excessive hydrogen peroxide usage can cause severe and long-lasting damage to their teeth.
Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can weaken your enamel.
Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a weight loss elixir. TikToker @allievaccaro2 claims in one of her videos that a shot of apple cider vinegar every day for two weeks led to a six-pound weight loss. Not only is this an unhealthy way to lose weight, but undiluted apple cider vinegar is harmful to the teeth. The supposed magical weight loss elixir can weaken the enamel on teeth, making them more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. Not only that, but heavy consumption of apple cider vinegar can cause burns inside the mouth.
Those looking to lose weight should always seek the guidance and counsel of their medical provider. And your dentist will still appreciate knowing when you are on a weight loss plan. Low-calorie diets, when not adequately supervised by a physician, can lead to malnutrition. In turn, malnutrition can lead to a weakened jawbone, soft enamel, and bad gums.
Filing your teeth is dangerous!
When your teeth formed beneath your gums, they were formed with little ridges called mamelons. These ridges are perfectly natural, though in some people, these ridges are more pronounced than in others. However, some people find that these ridges shouldn’t be there and, as such, have looked for ways to reduce the amount of “ridginess” on their teeth.
In her TikTok video titled “I hope I make dentists cringe,” Mia Dio uses a nail file to wear down the ridges on the edges of her teeth. Unfortunately, this treatment, though it can indeed wear down the ridges on your teeth, can cause lasting damage as well. In a later article published by the Washington Post, Dio goes on record indicating that her teeth have become more sensitive to hot and cold since her filing episode.
Your natural teeth have a thin, hard outer layer of enamel. The next layer is dentin, and that layer encases the pulp, which is the soft tissue that holds your tooth’s nerve center. Unfortunately, when you file down your teeth, it doesn’t grow back. For this reason and others that we are happy to share with you during your next dental visit, it is best not to try any dental modifications without first checking with your dentist.
TikTok can make tooth-brushing fun.
We don’t want to give the perception that everything you see on TikTok is inaccurate. This is far from the truth. We want our patients to be well informed and know when to ask us if they receive accurate dental advice. Proper oral hygiene education is a vital component to long-lasting oral health.
So, if you or your child enjoy watching TikTok videos, especially fun toothbrush-friendly TikTok videos, then by all means continue to do so. And if you want to have some innocent fun, videos that mock children’s oral hygiene habits can bring oodles of laughs. When watching these funny tooth-brushing videos on TikTok, make sure to understand that these videos are not recommendations for brushing your teeth. These videos are made for fun and nothing more.
Seek dental health advice from your pediatric dentist.
The very best resource for dental health advice is from your dentist. The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska is happy to provide dental health advice for school-aged kids and teens. Though there can be good videos on TikTok, and some are a lot of fun to watch, you mustn’t take medical or dental health advice from a social media post without doing your homework and checking with your dentist.
Dr. Reimer, your child’s pediatric dentist, is happy to share advice for proper oral hygiene and care. If you have questions about something you or your teen saw on TikTok, or if your teen needs a dental examination, be sure to give us a call at (402) 397-3377 or request an appointment on our website.