Tik Tok has as grown from dances and lip-syncs to providing some dodgy DIY dental advice to Gen Z kids, who increasingly consult TikTok before Google (and an oral health care provider, it seems). In 2022, headlines from across the world constantly chronicled some awful advice, and worse results, all thanks to faux dental gurus who got into the Tok instead of dental school. Here’s a look at some of their greatest hits:
Mind the gap? Well, some TikTokers have advised viewers to skip the ortho and just grab some elastics and glue for some DIY braces. Dentists and orthodontists have of course responded, noting that such experiments can damage the supporting tissue and bone possibly leading to tooth loss or extensive treatment to undo the damage.
Creative use of a nail file: Don’t like the shape of your teeth or just want vampire fangs for Halloween? Grab your nail file and remodel, suggest some Tiktokers in videos viewed by millions. Online dental gurus have clapped back, noting, of course, the risk of permanent damage.
Mr. Clean goes dental: TikToks have used bleach without supervision, Mr. Clean ‘magic erasers’, and charcoal to get their teeth pearly white. Dental pros have tried to run interference, pointing out that these use cases can go wrong and do a number on patient enamel. Stick to scuff-marks, mister.
Vacay veneers: Other TikToks and celebrities, particularly in the UK, have advocated traveling abroad to find cheaper dental providers for complex treatments, like implants and veneers. The trend, which has been labeled “Turkey Teeth” by the UK press, has led to some patients complaining of disastrous results, requiring major fixes when they get home. Before you despair, this deluge of poor treatment trends has led to a cottage industry of dental pros who heroically counter trends with science, and a dose of common sense. Unfortunately, dental pros are now competing with the TikTok algorithm for the hearts,minds (and teeth!) of their Gen Z patients. Oral health care providers will be keeping an eye on these trends in 2023 to help the next-gen avoid even more dental disasters.