Some things are absolutely absurd. No one in their right might would even consider DIY brain surgery a possibility, yet there are other DIY health projects that can also be detrimental to your health. DIY tooth extraction is one of them. Dentists have seen a variety of DIY procedures that have popped up as a result of dental offices closing for a while during the pandemic. While the intent may be to maintain or improve oral health, many of these procedures ultimately do more harm than good.
Closed Doors, Open Minds
Dental offices were forced to close during the early days of the pandemic and practices were limited to emergency care only. This move recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) had a huge impact on dentists and patients. Essentially, this move signaled to many that dental care was expendable and not all that necessary as far as healthcare was concerned.
In one stroke, dentistry was placed on the back burner of healthcare. This, despite the fact that oral health plays a major role in a person’s overall health and well-being. Dentists spend years studying and refining important skills to help people achieve and maintain oral health.
Fortunately, the American Dental Association wasted no time in publicly acknowledging that dentistry is essential healthcare. They disagreed with the statement made by the WHO. Meanwhile, while the doors of many a dental office were closed, the minds of many patients opened to the possibility of managing their own dental care.
Social media helped fuel some of the DIY ideas for the would-be home dentist. The different platforms featured a variety of DIY dental procedures that truly are best left to the professional dentist. Taking their cues from videos on various platforms, individuals learned how to misuse over-the-counter kits for denture repair, dental wax and mouthguards. Teeth have been filed down using nail files, superglue has been used to fix cracked teeth, people have filled their teeth and some have done self-extractions.
Some of the home remedies for addressing dental problems have been ingenious; however, they often have consequences that can cause permanent damage to the teeth. Some of these solutions are not solutions at all, but can cause bodily harm.
Serious Risks to Your Health
Without proper knowledge of body chemistry, anatomy of the mouth and other information one receives in dental school, a person can do great harm with DIY dentistry. While it is understandable that individuals may feel driven to find alternatives to standard dental treatment, the truth is, some of these alternatives may have serious consequences.
The trend for DIY dentistry began before the pandemic and increased with the mandated lockdowns. Finding at-home solutions for dental problems should be avoided. Results can be devastating.
Dental associations in the United States and Great Britain have made public statements against the notion of DIY dentistry. For the American Dental Association president, Dr. Joseph P. Crowley, the threat is clear: “Public health and safety is our number one concern, and that’s why we are taking steps to educate the public about DIY dentistry.”
Nigel Carter, OBE, and Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, also cautioned people: “DIY dentistry is both dangerous and unnecessary. It is all too easy to make the problem worse, which could result in more invasive and expensive treatment, so I urge those considering self-treatment to think again.”
National newspapers and magazines have also spoken out against the practice of DIY dentistry. The cost of this new trend can be serious, given that some processes end up with individuals needing surgery in order to correct the failed at-home attempt.
Common and Troubling Procedures
There is a long list of DIY dental procedures ranging from minor to those that can cause serious problems. Some of the most common are:
- DIY fillings – At-home remedies for filling cavities use everything from dental wax, household materials to creating your own dental packing and adhesive materials. People are over-using the wax and it can become too soft, melt away or be swallowed. DIY filling material does not stay in the tooth and some materials can cause allergic reactions. Add to that the fact that the decay continues in the tooth; the DIY remedy can cause more harm by covering up the cause of the pain and possibly turning the situation into a more painful and expensive problem to correct.
- Self-whitening teeth – Granted there are plenty of safe over-the-counter teeth whitening kits available, but even those urger users to check in with their dentists. Unfortunately, there are also suggestions on the internet that use household products to whiten teeth that can actually damage the surface. Some of these substances can also cause gastrointestinal problems.
- Denture repair – Your dentist does not use superglue to repair broken dentures. There is a process that uses biocompatible materials. Unless you are a dentist, you cannot and should not repair your dentures at home. Harsh chemicals are used in some denture repair kits and ingesting these substances is not good.
- DIY braces and aligners – There is science behind the practice of moving teeth, which dentists learn in dental school. Orthodontists learn significantly more about the process of safely moving teeth. There is much that goes into this procedure of which the average person is unaware. DIY braces and home-based tooth-alignment procedures have serious risks associated with them.
- Tooth extraction – The problems with this DIY procedure should be obvious. Tooth extraction is still surgery. In the dental office, it is performed under the care of a professional who understands the structure of the different teeth, the forces required for extraction and the nerves and blood vessels that need to be taken into consideration. Then there is the sterilization of instruments necessary before performing the surgery. Breaking a tooth at the crown during extraction leaves the roots to fester in the bone unless you have the instruments and skill to remove them. One DIY extraction can result in thousands of dollars and hours of pain to have the problem addressed correctly.
The dental office is a safe and controlled environment in which knowledgeable and skilled professionals provide oral care that cannot be adequately or safely administered on a DIY basis. Some of the at-home procedures will not result in major harm being done to your body or your teeth, but others can have devastating effects on both. Tooth loss, abnormal bite, infection and the time and cost it will take to correct the situation are not worth the risk.
It cannot be stressed enough that you may be putting yourself at risk and causing permanent damage to your teeth by using DIY dental procedures. It is understandable that patients have concerns about getting dental work done during a pandemic. Rather than take chances with your oral health and general well-being, have a conversation with your dentist about your concerns. Ask your dentist what measures have been taken to ensure that the office is safe.
If you have financial concerns, talk to your dentist. Most dentists have payment options and are willing to work with patients. Working through your budget concerns with your dentist will be far less expensive and far less painful than trusting in a DIY dental procedure that could go terribly wrong.
Remember, good oral hygiene and regular checkups are the best way to ensure that your oral health is maintained. Contact Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta for excellent dental care.