Many people turn to TikTok to stay up to date on the latest trends, from home improvement hacks to makeup tips. It can even be a resource for wellness and oral hygiene advice.
But, there are also plenty of dangerous fads that go viral on social media with little transparency about the harmful effects. The disastrous Kylie Jenner lip challenge from a few years ago and the more recent Benadryl challenge are two examples that come to mind.
Lately, TikTok has seen a wave of tooth-related videos that could potentially encourage young people to do irreversible damage to their dental health. We spoke to Dr. Ingrid Murra, DDS, founder of Two Front orthodontic care, about the risks of these concerning trends.
Nail-Glue Vampire Fangs
Some TikTok users are going to extreme lengths to celebrate spooky season this year, prioritizing frightfully realistic costumes over their dental health. The latest DIY look to gain traction on the app involves using nail adhesive, which contains similar ingredients to super glue, to attach vampire fangs to your teeth.
One video with over one million likes documents the moment user @muawk realizes her fake fangs are stuck and appears to hyperventilate as she tries to pull them from her teeth. In a follow-up video, she brushes and flosses frantically until they finally fall off.
According to Dr. Murra, this trend is unsafe because "nail glue can strip off the enamel of your teeth, which can increase the chance of getting cavities and cause sensitivity." The powerful glue can also damage your gums.
If you do make the mistake of trying the damaging technique at home, Dr. Murra warns against trying to fix it yourself. Not only should your dentist be the one to get you out of the sticky situation, but they can actually safely place fangs on your teeth so you can channel the undead look, risk-free.
Shaving Teeth With a Nail File
Another concerning hack on the app could have even more permanent ramifications. Some users are taking a nail file to their teeth to even them out or make them smaller and filming the process. Once again, this can cause damage to your enamel.
"You risk removing too much enamel and causing sensitivity and increasing the chance of getting cavities," Dr. Murra said. "Removing enamel is also permanent - unlike hair and nails, teeth don't grow - so I highly recommend cosmetic changes by your dentist, prosthodontist, or orthodontist." These professionals will do a more precise job, while being attentive to preserving tooth structure.
Depending on the cosmetic fix you want to make, there are a couple of different procedures a dentist may consider. If your teeth are too long, a dentist can carefully remove parts of your teeth to even them out, whereas if they are too short, they can build a composite to match your tooth shade. Either way, a file, or any other tool meant for nails, should be avoided.
Bleaching Teeth With Hydrogen Peroxide
With the wealth of options available for safe at-home teeth whitening, it is surprising that some TikTokers are turning to a questionable trend to achieve a spotless smile. User @clauds244 racked up 2.7 million views on a video in which she dips a cotton swab into 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and brushes the swab on her teeth to bleach them. "If you're a dentist, don't tell me this is wrong," she says in the TikTok video.
However, Dr. Murra maintained that there is no safe or correct way to use this method.
"All tooth whitening products have hydrogen peroxide as the primary ingredient (some use carbamide peroxide)," she explained. "but it is formulated in such a way that it won't damage your teeth or surrounding gums."
Even though the base ingredient is the same, it is "absolutely not" similar to using other home whitening products. Instead, follow Dr. Murra's advice and stick to your trusty white strips, or other products specifically made for teeth.