I’m ashamed to say we haven’t been to our local dentist in about two years. COVID hit and I lost my job, and my insurance, and we’re just now getting back into the swing of things. Well, my 12-year-old just took it upon herself to try some things she saw on TikTok thinking she’d be able to whiten and reshape her teeth at home and save us money. I’m horrified but she’s not in pain or anything and I’m trying to assess the damage and whether or not this requires an urgent dental visit or whether it can wait until the new year when my insurance kicks in.
Basically, she started by rinsing with regular peroxide trying to whiten her teeth at home. I don’t think this is inherently dangerous, but worth noting. The big thing she did is take a file to her canines. She thought they were too pointy and wanted to flatten them out. I’m worried this caused permanent damage that will cost her those teeth. Again, though, she’s not in pain and they look ok. They’re just visibly flatter. Are these things that require an urgent visit or can they wait? And, when we go, what is the likely outcome?
Yikes! It’s good you’re asking questions and your daughter will need to get checked out. But, let’s break this apart, so it’s easier to understand what’s happening and what your options are.
Lots of Kids Are Falling Victim to TikTok Trends
First, don’t beat yourself up too much. A lot of kids are following things they’ve seen on TikTok. One of the other trends is to file teeth down into points in to look like a vampire or to file them into peg shapes in the hopes they’ll be able to get veneers. These things absolutely destroy teeth and can be expensive to correct.
Peroxide Can Damage Enamel and Irritate Tissues
While there are peroxide-based whitening solutions, they’re different from the peroxide you probably have in your cabinet at home. Studies suggest that it’s actually better for your enamel to use stronger peroxide for a shorter amount of time than it is to use weaker peroxide for longer periods. Peroxide can irritate the tissues in your mouth too. So, if your daughter’s still using this tactic, make sure she stops and holds off on any peroxide-based solutions until after she’s under the care of a dentist and has his or her green light to move forward with any at-home whitening treatments.
Long-term consequences could be things like tooth sensitivity and increased risk for decay going forward. However, it’s unlikely she caused any permanent damage with this. She’ll need an exam to confirm.
Filing Teeth Can Potentially Result in the Loss of the Tooth
The filing of teeth is more worrisome on two fronts. First, the mere act of filing can traumatize the tooth and “kill” it. It’s not always apparent right away, so symptoms might not manifest for days or weeks after. The only fix here is a root canal. Similarly, removing tooth structure can expose the nerve or leave it with less protection which can make it more sensitive. A root canal would be the likely repair here as well. If the tooth needs to be strengthened or rebuilt, it will probably need a crown. A filling might suffice in some cases though.
Visit the Dentist for an Exam and X-Rays
It’s impossible to say what issues your daughter may have without a dentist performing an exam and evaluating her x-rays. In the grand scheme of things, a quick check is relatively inexpensive. Your dentist will be able to advise you whether treatment can likely wait until after your insurance begins or if delaying may result in more issues.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Raymond Bolt, an Auburn, Alabama dentist.