Do not try this at home – dangers of DIY dentistry

With the pandemic this year, there has been an increased number of manufacturing companies promoting DIY dentistry. With their marketing kicking up, a lot of patients are interested in trying these products that are advertised for your dental needs. Dental professionals are concerned with these self-diagnosis and treatment methods causing damage to patients’ teeth. Most of these companies are not regulated properly and offer little protection to consumers. So, what should we look out for? 

Home-whitening products 

Whitening is a popular procedure these days with individuals wanting to achieve a brighter smile. Whitening should only be carried out by dental professionals. It can be done with custom made trays to use at home or an in-chair procedure. The active ingredient used to whiten teeth is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  

An increasing variety of tooth whitening products are available for direct sale to Australian consumers over the counter (OTC) and online. These include whitening toothpaste, charcoal products, whitening gels, whitening strips and even whitening pens.

This risk involved with such products are direct exposure to hydrogen peroxide. Such exposure to the skin, eyes and lining of mouth can cause severe irritation or burns, while ingestion may irritate the oesophagus and stomach resulting in bleeding or sudden distension.

Some of the OTC products contain non-hydrogen peroxide ingredients which also has shown a potential to damage enamel. Other products have been found to contain concentrations of bleaching agents that exceed legal limits in Australia.

In Australia, Schedule 10 of the Poisons Standard specifically states that teeth whitening products containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide may only be sold, supplied, and used by registered dental practitioners as part of their dental practice. 

Many non-dental practitioner teeth whitening services claim that their practitioners are experts at tooth whitening. However, only registered dental practitioners have the expertise to assess whether bleaching is safe for individual patients, to recommend the most appropriate technique and materials, and to provide treatment that meets regulated safety and quality standards of care.

Manual / Electric Scalers

The plaque and calculus build-up on teeth need to be removed regularly to maintain good oral hygiene. Although this is important, it should never be attempted at home.

Tartar removal should always be performed by a dental professional. The tools used at dental practices are specialised medical tools which require training to learn how to use them safely. Dental hygienists/therapist are extensively trained for three years at university to learn how to use ultrasonic scalers, manual scalers and other tools safely.

Gums are delicate. Any trauma to them can not only be painful but cause gums to recede. The recession can then expose the root surface of tooth causing sensitivity. 

Improper use of scalers can also result in injuries to cheek, tongue and other areas of mouth or even cause tartar to be pushed under the gumline leading to infections.

If you are concerned about plaque build-up, visit your dental team regularly. They can examine your mouth and if needed, remove build-up safely by a trained and experienced hygienist. 

Orthodontics / Braces

The story of a college student printing his own braces with 3D printing went viral a few years ago. Fast forward to now, we are seeing advertisements for new DIY teeth aligner companies that take out the visit to the orthodontist and send the trays straight to your home. 

Orthodontic treatment/ Braces are more than just a beautiful smile. It involves moving the teeth to align the upper and lower arch to reduce wear and lessen pressure on the jaw. This can hugely impact on your dental health, your bite and even the shape of your face.

Attempting to achieve this without the expertise of a dentist or an orthodontist can significantly increase the risk of infection, damage to teeth and gums and may even result in tooth loss in the long run.

The repair of damage caused by this method can be far more expensive than investing in specialist orthodontic care at your dental practice.

Dentists have an in-depth knowledge of how you can safely move teeth and jaw to get best results. They also take x-rays before treatment to make sure there are no signs of tooth decay or gum disease that may impact the effectiveness of the treatment. 

If in doubt, always check with your dental team here at Bite before trying any new tools or products at home. This will help to minimise damage to your teeth and to ensure your oral health is maintained for the long run. 

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