The concept of do-it-yourself has really taken off when it comes to home improvement, auto care, and the like. Doing projects around the house yourself instead of hiring a professional can save you money and is generally safe, but that's not at all true when the do-it-yourself principle is applied to dentistry.
Some patients have begun filing down their teeth, moving their teeth with rubber bands, and performing other so-called "DIY dental procedures" on themselves. Here's a look at the dangers of such procedures, and why you really are better off shelling out the cash to have a professional dentist perform any and all treatments to your teeth.
The Dangers of Filing Down Your Own Teeth
If you have a seemingly misshapen or chipped tooth, you may be tempted to take a nail file to its surface and start filing it down. There are even guides on the internet that claim to tell you how to do this safely. However, internet how-to guides are no replacement for years of dental school. You are not an expert, and filing down your own teeth could have dangerous consequences, such as:
- Exposure of the delicate dentin, which underlies your tooth enamel and is highly sensitive to the touch.
- Making the appearance of your teeth worse by making them look uneven. For instance, if you file down one front tooth, it will look short next to the other one.
- Breakage of teeth in the future, after they have been weakened by uneven or excessive filing.
When you go to the dentist to have a tooth shaped and contoured, he or she will first take x-rays to ensure your teeth are healthy enough for this procedure. Also, your dentist knows exactly how much enamel can be removed before exposing the dentin or causing other side effects.
The Dangers of Using Rubber Bands to Straighten Your Teeth
Some orthodontists use rubber bands to close gaps between two teeth. As a result, some patients have begun taking matters in their own hands and applying rubber bands to their teeth to straighten them without the guidance of a dentist. This can cause gaps between other teeth and may actually worsen the look of the smile. It can also lead to gum problems and even tooth loss.
If you have crooked teeth that you want to have straightened, visit an orthodontist or cosmetic dentist. He or she will tell you whether dental bands are the right choice for you, or whether you need aligners or braces. Saving a few dollars on tooth straightening isn't worth losing your teeth.
The Dangers of Other DIY Dental Procedures
It should go without saying that you should also not attempt to fill, pull, or otherwise alter any of your teeth on your own. Doing so can cause bleeding, infections, and other serious health ailments. Dentists spend many years in school learning their profession. Assuming you can do what they do after watching one video or reading a guide is not smart and may land you in the emergency room -- or toothless.
If you're interested in standard or cosmetic dental services, speak with a dental professional.