Social media has a lot to answer for. Some truly strange hacks and challenges have emerged over the years, some of which are outright dangerous. Just because someone is exposed to this type of content, it doesn't mean that they will try to copy it, and the TikTok tooth filing hack should not be mimicked in any way. But what is it, and why is it so dangerous?
Nail Files Are Not Dentistry Tools
If your fingernails are uneven, ragged, or a little chipped, all you need to do is grab a nail file and get to work. Some TikTok users thought the same principle applied to their teeth. Dental professionals were extremely concerned when videos of the process were shared on the platform. In the video, a nail file was used to smooth out the uneven biting surfaces of the user's teeth. While the short-term results may have been what the user was hoping for, these results can result in catastrophic damage in the long term.
Your Dental Enamel Is Precious
Filing a tooth removes precious dental enamel. This is the exceptionally strong, highly mineralized protective shielding that coats your teeth. When enamel is missing, the underlying dentin is exposed, and the tooth is more vulnerable to decay. DIY tooth filing also risks exposing a tooth's pulp chamber (where the nerve is located). This can result in infection and severe discomfort, with a root canal becoming necessary. Some dental procedures actually require the removal of dental enamel, but this removal should only be performed by a dentist.
How a Dentist Works With Enamel
When a dentist removes enamel, the process is called enamel shaving. It's often performed to resize a tooth in order to accommodate a dental restoration. The loss of enamel isn't concerning in this instance, since the restoration (a dental crown or veneer) will essentially act as a synthetic replacement for the missing enamel. When reshaping or smoothing out a tooth without the need for a fabricated restoration, a dentist will be sure to only remove an ultra-thin layer of enamel—enough to achieve results without leaving your tooth exposed. Clearly, this approach cannot be replicated when a layperson modifies their teeth using a nail file.
Your Objectives and the Best Approach
If you're dissatisfied with the appearance of your teeth, you must seek professional dental treatment. Your dentist will discuss your objectives and will determine a treatment plan. It's not a foregone conclusion that your goals will require any enamel removal, and your dentist may opt to reshape teeth by adding composite resin—adding to the tooth's structure, instead of subtracting from it.
Social media isn't the best place to get dental advice. If you or someone you know has been influenced by an influencer in this way, and are wondering where's the harm in gently filing down a tooth, it's time to log off. Your teeth are simply too important for a DIY approach.
Contact a dentist to learn more about professional dental treatments.Share