Dentists are warning people not to file their own teeth after several users on TikTok have posted videos of themselves using household objects, like a nail file to grind down uneven chompers.
“You might file your nails and then they grow back, but teeth don’t grow back,” said Dr. Tricia Quartey-Sagaille, a dentist based in New York City. “It’s very important for people to realize that and know that sometimes there’s a different cause for why your teeth might be different lengths, so it might not be as simple — like maybe your teeth are at different positions.”
As with most of the dangerous stunts that have made their way onto the platform recently, TikTok has taken measures to warn against participating in unsafe activities. Some videos are now flagged with a warning that reads “potential dangerous action.”
In her now-flagged video, TikTok user Mia Dio says she is trying to file her teeth with a nail file because they are “not perfect” and “have some ridges,” but she doesn’t have the money to have them professionally looked at. Dio called the final results “significantly better” than before, but Quartey-Sagaille says her actions may have very permanent, long-term consequences.
“People see the immediate ‘Wow, it looks better,’ but once (enamel) is gone, it’s gone forever,” Quartey-Sagaille told TODAY. “You can really do irreversible harm and have long term health impacts. There’s a lot of irreversible damage that can be done.”
Enamel exists to protect your teeth from the elements. If you remove it, your teeth are less protected, opening them up to a world of problems. Some of that damage can include increased sensitivity, increased risk for cavities, and unforeseeable pains.
“Don’t do anything at home that your dentist did not tell you to,” said Quartey-Sagaille. “The teeth are very strong, but you can certainly do a lot of things to weaken them. I would say if it’s not something that you routinely see over the counter, do not do it.”
Dr. Ben Winters, an orthodontist in Arkansas, shared a video on Instagram of him reacting to one of these cringe-worthy teeth-filing TikToks.
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“It’s just bad news, bad juju!” he said. “You’ve got to leave something like this to an expert, because we know exactly how much enamel we can take off to be healthy for the teeth and still get a good look.”
Ultimately, experts suggest considering all cosmetic options with your dentist before undergoing any dental procedures. And most importantly, for the love of all that is good in this world, do NOT file your teeth with a nail file.