SCRAPING a nail file down her front teeth, a young girl beams for the camera in scenes that would make any viewer grimace.
The shocking video is just one example of a disturbing new ‘DIY dentistry’ trend that sees TikTok influencers advise their fans on how to get a perfect smile.
From rubbing bleach on their teeth through to scraping enamel with activated charcoal to get pearly whites, some truly shocking ‘hacks’ are going viral on the video-sharing app.
However, experts are warning such reckless trends will not just cause lasting damage and stains, but can also lead to pain later in life.
Dr Kamala Aydazada, dentist and founder of Kensington Cosmetic Dentist, says: “People are spending longer hours staring at themselves on video calls, as well as following others on social media – many of whom use ‘picture perfect’ filters and Photoshop to enhance their profiles.
“For some, this may lead them resorting to drastic measures to achieve the results they want.”
Here, we take a closer look at just some of the hacks going viral on TikTok – and Dr Aydazada explains why she wouldn’t recommend trying them at home…
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‘Once filed down they’ll never grow back’
In a toe-curling new trend on par with running your finger nails down a chalkboard, TikTok users have been ‘reshaping’ their teeth – using nail files.
TikTok user Mia Dio, who has 145K followers, was one of the first to try out the technique, with the video liked over 51K times.
After using the ill-advised method, she shows a close up of her perfect smile, saying: “Guys, it’s literally working!”
Despite a warning applied to the video stating it contains “potential dangerous action”, one user commented: “I’ve thought about doing this so many times… They look good!!!”
Another added: “Is this real??? Is it dangerous??? Wanna do it but I’m scared lol.”
Explaining why it’s so damaging, Dr Ayazada says: “The enamel of your teeth is really thin and once filed down, it will never grow back.
“This can cause a number of issues, making the affected areas appear dull and develop more stains over time due to surface irregularities.
“Your teeth may end up with sensitivity or pain and will become more prone to cavities. I would like to remind everyone that you only have one set of permanent teeth and should not compromise your health attempting this ill-advised TikTok trend.”
Whitening teeth with BLEACH
Some users have also started using three per cent hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth at home – a bizarre ‘tip’ that led to the bleach selling out online.
Under UK law, teeth-whitening products can be sold directly to the public if they contain less than 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide – anything above this level should be supplied or used under the supervision of a dentist.
Claudia Snell, 18, posted a video of her using the chemical – commonly used in hair bleach and fertilisers – on her teeth in a video and received nearly 20 million views and over 2.7million likes.
In the short clip she rubs hydrogen peroxide, which she claims she bought for just £4, on her teeth with a cotton bud before revealing how much whiter they appear to be just four days later.
“Not 100 per cent convinced this is safe but ordering some anyway,” one user commented, while another added: “Prolonged contact is dangerous! Occasional rinses or wiping life she did are fine but long contact with the skin is not… Be careful.”
Others claiming to be dental professionals did support the idea that this technique could be safe – but warned that users would need to know exactly what they were doing.
‘This can cause irreversible damage’
Another homemade whitening remedy being plugged on TikTok is mixing baking soda with liquid hydrogen peroxide – but combining the two together could actually cause permanent damage.
Dr Ayazada says: “Baking soda is an effective, minimally abrasive method of teeth whitening which could be safely used in conjunction with your regular fluoride-containing toothpaste, but combining it with liquid hydrogen peroxide is NOT recommended due to the serious damage it can inflict on the teeth.
“Being acidic in nature, hydrogen peroxide would soften your enamel, making it easier to then remove the healthy tooth structure by brushing it away with baking soda.
“I would like to warn everyone against using such a mixture as it may cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums.
“For patients who like the properties of baking soda, I would advise them to mix it with water and swish with it rather than brush with it. Alternatively, you could buy a fluoride toothpaste containing baking soda over the counter.”
Scratching the enamel off
Activated charcoal may be one of the most popular methods of whitening teeth, as it’s been widely promoted on social media by celebrities, but according to Dr Ayazada, it just creates an illusion of whiter teeth due to the contrast of the black charcoal residue – and can also cause issues.
Dr Ayazada says: “This contrast, comparable to wearing a bright red lipstick that makes the teeth appear whiter, is simply a trick that the colour of the substance plays on the eye when it’s placed next to the teeth.
“One major issue with activated charcoal is that the particles are larger and more coarse than that of a regular toothpaste, leaving scratch marks on the enamel surfaces which would stain excessively in the future.
“Additionally, residues of the black charcoal paste are often left in the difficult to reach areas around the gums and in between the teeth, making it hard to remove.”
When life gives you lemons… don’t bleach your teeth with them
Using lemon juice is another popular “home remedy” for teeth whitening regularly suggested by social media users.
Dr Ayazada says: “One of the posts I came across stated due to the citric acid contained in lemons, it is a great way to get rid of white spots from teeth.
It is not a secret that it contains a very high level of acidity and, when directly rubbed into your teeth enamel, as suggested above, it will cause acid erosion of your tooth’s enamel.
“It recommended taking some lemon juice and adding a pinch of salt, then rub this mixture onto the teeth for two to three minutes and then rinse out with water.
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“I would like to warn everyone against using lemon in this manner.
“It is not a secret that it contains a very high level of acidity and, when directly rubbed into your teeth enamel, as suggested above, it will cause acid erosion of your tooth’s enamel. When used regularly over the long period of time, the damage could be significant.”
Whatever technique you consider using, asking a professional for advice before trying out the latest TikTok trend is an absolute must.