Dental care may be more advanced, painless, and successful than ever, but there’s a growing trend of dangerous practices that threaten oral health. From risky body modifications to dubious hygiene products, these habits can cause long term damage to the gums, enamel, and other parts of the mouth. Before you head in for your next scheduled dental checkup, make sure you or your family aren’t engaging in any of these dangerous dental trends.

Jeweled Tooth Decorations

Adorning the teeth with jewels is an ancient practice, dating back to 16th century Mezoamerica at least, and while it survives as a unique way of enhancing your appearance, we know better than the ancients about the dangers of this practice. Tooth gems have recently come back into vogue, and while unlike their ancient counterparts instead use a modern adhesive, these decorations still have the chance to cause serious harm to your teeth. In the short term, tooth gems cause unsightly discoloration that no amount of brushing will remove, forcing you to consult a professional dental hygienist to restore them back to a glistening white. More alarmingly, over time these decorations will wear away at the protective coating on the outside of the teeth. With its enamel stripped, a tooth is more prone to damage and infection.

Tongue Piercing

Body modification may have lost much of its stigma over the past few decades, but there are certain styles that warrant careful consideration. For those concerned about their oral health, it may surprise you to learn of the tongue piercing risks posed to your gums and teeth. While most people are aware of the potential for scarring and nerve damage to the tongue, the piercing also invites harmful bacteria than can quickly spread to the gums, resulting in periodontal disease. This condition poses serious health risks that extend well past the mouth. Untreated periodontal disease can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as result in complications for those with diabetes.

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DIY Dentistry

Do-it-yourself dental care is one of the most dangerous and perplexing dental trends to surface in recent years. Rather than rely on medical professionals to tend to their teeth, some individuals file their own tooth chips, use dubious materials from drug stores for temporary fillings, and in the most extreme cases, attempt their own extractions. Becoming a dentist takes years of diligent studying, practice, and working under trained professionals, so the idea that the average person could hope to achieve the same results in front of their bathroom mirror with crude tools and little medical knowledge beyond what they’ve garnered from the internet is preposterous.

For example, while trained dentists in Marion IN take painstaking care to clean a cavity before applying a filling, using temporary filling materials on your own only serves to trap bacteria in the area, posing a serious risk of infection. DIY dentistry can quickly turn a minor dental issue into a full-blown medical emergency, which not only puts your life at risk, but negates any money you might have saved by creating a much more expensive problem to fix.

Charcoal Toothpaste

Charcoal toothpaste promises the world, but it’s no different than the snake oil medicines and remedies that scammers and charlatans have sold to the gullible for centuries. In fact it’s much worse, as charcoal toothpaste can actually be damaging in the long run, with subtle issues that build up over time. While it might provide some whitening in the short term, over time charcoal toothpaste will damage and strip away the outer layer of enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to chipping, causing them to be more sensitive to heat and cold, and leaving them more prone to cavities. If you want whiter teeth, simply stick to your scheduled dental cleanings, avoid staining foods, and use a whitening toothpaste approved by your dentist.

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Leave Dental Care to the Professionals

Your teeth may feel durable, but they require a great deal of dental care like any other part of the body. Make sure to do your part to take care of them, but for more serious issues, always defer to your dentist. Don’t experiment with fads like charcoal toothpaste, gaudy tooth gems, or tongue piercings, and when it comes to fixing chips, filling cavities, or extractions, leave it to the professionals.