DIY Dentistry

What Your Dentist Thinks

Dentist talking to patient

Do-it-yourself (DIY) trends that claim a few simple steps will lead to a dramatic impact may work well for some home improvement dreams, but what about DIY when it comes to your dental health?

“Some DIY dental health fads, like oil pulling for example, are just not effective,” said ADA dentist Dr. Matthew Messina. Others, however, could cause damage. DIY whitening with charcoal – a popular trend on social media – can cause more harm than good, Messina warned. There is no evidence that shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth, according to the September 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Before you take your dental health into your own hands based on the promises and ease of any DIY treatments, it’s critical to talk to the expert – your ADA dentist.

The benefits of an office visit

People may seek DIY services for dental treatments like teeth straightening because they feel they can’t fit office visits into their schedule or think that it will cost less than in-person treatment, said Dr. Maria Lopez-Howell, another ADA dentist. Products such as at-home aligners are also called direct-to-consumer, or DTC, products. However, working with a dentist can actually offer more options for your unique case.

“Additional choices or services may be offered once your dentist can assess what’s happening in your mouth,” Dr. Lopez-Howell said. “Alternative treatment plans and options that address budgetary concerns are more easily developed.”

Visiting a dentist can also catch issues beforehand and ensure treatment doesn’t cause more problems than it cures, said ADA dentist Dr. Ruchi Sahota.

“When my patients come in to see me, my goal is to evaluate their overall dental health picture,” Dr. Sahota said. “A dentist’s office is a safe place where a doctor is ensuring you’re not only getting safe care but also care that will actually treat the root of your problem. We want to make sure that if you utilize aligners to straighten teeth, that the teeth you’re straightening are healthy and sound.”

Getting the right treatment for your smile

Before you start any DIY dental treatment, it’s important to speak with your dentist about the potential risks and benefits.

“People who consider DIY are usually looking for answers but don’t have a dentist they can speak with,” Messina said. “Before considering any dental DIY service, people should seek out answers from a local dentist who can examine their mouth and offer suggestions.”

Prepare for your office visit by researching the DIY treatment you’re considering and asking yourself these questions.

“Talk to your dentist. We’re always here for you and open to discussing new trends that you may have seen in the news or on social media,” Dr. Sahota said. “Let us know what you are thinking so we can think it through with you!”

The ADA discourages the use of direct to consumer dental products, including mouth guards, snoring appliances, teeth whitening trays and bleaching products, partial dentures, veneers and aligners.