Covid-19 has impacted on our lives in so many ways. One of the many disruptions has been to dental appointments, with New Zealanders repeatedly delaying routine check-ups due to restrictive alert levels, availability issues caused by appointment backlogs, personal health concerns or financial constraints. Some people are taking their dental care into their own hands, but the risks of DIY dentistry are substantial – not just to your health but also to your bank account.
Unfortunately, if you search for a solution to any conceivable dental issue there is a seemingly endless amount of non-professional advice on offer. There are home remedies for everything from teeth whitening to toothache to cracked dentures, and everything in-between. Videos have even surfaced of people giving themselves fillings, extracting their own teeth, or using superglue to mend cracked teeth! Some of the rising trends and risks of DIY dentistry include:
- Filing your teeth with nail files to smooth a chipped or rough edge, which can damage the tooth and lead to infection.
- Home teeth whitening remedies using baking soda or bleach which do not actually whiten your teeth but can cause gastrointestinal problems instead.
- Using superglue or home denture repair kits to repair cracked or broken dentures. Not only can the harmful chemicals be ingested, but dentures should always be repaired professionally to ensure they remain comfortable and well-fitting, and don’t cause any chewing problems or sore spots.
- Using over-the-counter mouthguards to prevent nighttime teeth clenching or grinding instead of a custom-made sleep mouthguard. Using a pharmacy mouthguard can cause your teeth to shift and create irritating gum ulcers.
- Performing an at-home tooth extraction runs the risk of the tooth breaking off at the gumline. The remaining root tip acts like an infected splinter – not only extremely painful and a risk to your overall health, but also potentially costly to treat.
- Treating toothache by placing an aspirin or paracetamol directly on it. This old remedy can cause an aspirin burn, and of course the reason for the toothache won’t go away.
The temptation of taking your dental care into your own hands can lead to much bigger (and expensive) dental issues. If you haven’t seen your dentist in a while, scheduling an appointment could not only save your oral and overall health, it can save substantial money when problems are caught in the early stages and treated correctly. Don’t believe all of that “advice” available – we see first-hand the risks of DIY dentistry. It is never safe and never a good idea.