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TikTok tooth filing
TikTok/@millennial_rdh

TikTok users are shaving down their teeth with nail files and it’s very bad


TextAlex Peters

America, please give these people universal healthcare

TikTok users are back at it again with the dodgy DIY dental procedures. Following several viral teeth whitening hacks including a homemade remedy of baking soda and liquid hydrogen peroxide which dentists have warned against, there’s a new trend going around the social platform and it involves a nail file. 

Many people on TikTok have been filing down their uneven teeth with nail files. “I’m going to file my teeth down with a nail file because they are not perfect, I have some ridges, and we’re balling on a budget,” explains one user before filing her teeth down. The trend has dentists extremely concerned, calling the process unsafe and warning that it could cause extreme damage to your teeth. “Filing down your teeth will remove the tooth enamel,” explains Dr Krystyna Wilczynski, a cosmetic dentist at White & Co Dental. Enamel is the outer hard layer of the tooth structure, which protects the dentine and nerve of the tooth, and protects against decay. “If you file too much enamel away, you risk tooth sensitivity and even worse, nerve inflammation and irritation, and pain,” says Dr Wilczynski. “This can then lead to further complications and need for dental intervention.”

This damage, she warns, will be permanent and irreparable because unlike your nails which will grow back tomorrow, tooth structure does not regenerate.

As the trend has gained momentum on TikTok, dentists and orthodontists on the platform have been speaking out against the practice as they react to and debunk the videos. Dr Benjamin Winters, an Arkansas-based orthodontist who boasts over five million followers on TikTok, filmed a PSA recommending against people filing down their teeth. “Don’t get mad at me when your teeth are more sensitive than a two year old crying over spilt milk,” he says.  

Meanwhile Dr Suhail Mohiuddin AKA @dr.m_ urged his followers to question why their teeth are uneven in the first place, a problem which won’t be solved through filing. “Ok, you file them, and they look pretty good but you didn't solve the original problem, so what are you going to do in a few years when they're uneven again and your teeth are shorter?” he asks. 

Dental hygienist Iman Zayed kept it short and simple, warning that by destroying your enamel you can never get it back and it may even destroy the tooth. “A dead tooth means extensive and expensive treatment if you want to keep it,” she said. “Don't consider doing this, seriously.”

@dr.m_

Another day spitting some facts about Tik Tok trends ##dentist ##nailfile ##teeth

♬ original sound - dr.m_

If you are unhappy with the appearance or health of your teeth, Dr Wilczynski says the best thing you can do is see a professional. “A dentist will conservatively contour and define the edges of your teeth using high end dental tools,” she says. “No one should do any at home dental treatment themselves. Always seek professional advice, even for something like tooth polishing. We are equipped with the tools and the knowledge of tooth anatomy and biology to know exactly what to do safely.”  

Of course, in the US this isn’t an option for many people who are without health insurance and these growing number of DIY treatment trends on social platforms like TikTok as people attempt to save money by not going to medical and dental professional are indicative of the state of crisis the US healthcare system is in. 

Before the pandemic, 87 million people were uninsured or underinsured in the US and with over 30 million Americans losing their jobs – and therefore health insurance – due to the pandemic and unemployment rates reaching highs not seen since the Great Depression, these numbers are growing.

Pre-COVID-19, more than half a million families declared bankruptcy each year because of medically related debt while more than 30,000 people died every year because they couldn’t get to a doctor when they needed to see one. There is no question that something needs to change. 

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