DIY Dentistry Do’s and Don’ts

Craftsmen or electrician woman with toothache

In the era of do-it-yourself solutions, it’s tempting to apply the DIY ethos to all aspects of our lives, including dental care. However, when it comes to your teeth, it’s crucial to understand where the line should be drawn between at-home care and professional treatment. This blog aims to provide insights into basic oral hygiene and first aid for dental issues, but let’s be clear: it is not a substitute for the expert care provided by a licensed dentist.

The Do’s of DIY Dentistry

Let’s dive into the Do’s of DIY Dentistry, where we focus on essential practices and habits you can adopt at home to maintain and improve your oral health, while understanding the limits of self-care in dentistry. Here are some DIY approaches to dentistry that can actually benefit your oral health: 

Regular Oral Hygiene: 

Regular oral hygiene is arguably the most effective form of DIY dentistry and forms the foundation of dental health. Engaging in daily routines like brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing to remove plaque from areas your toothbrush can’t reach, and using an antibacterial mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen breath, are simple yet powerful practices. These habits not only keep your teeth and gums clean but also significantly reduce the risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Moreover, regular oral hygiene is not just about preventing problems; it’s also key in maintaining overall health, as poor dental health has been linked to various systemic issues. By taking these steps, you’re not just preserving your smile; you’re also contributing to your long-term health and well-being.

Eating a Healthy Diet: 

Eating a healthy diet is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of DIY dental care. What you eat has a direct impact on your oral health. A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is essential not only for overall health but also for maintaining strong teeth and healthy gums. Foods high in calcium and phosphorus, such as dairy products, nuts, and lean meats, help to reinforce tooth enamel, the first defense against cavities and tooth decay. Conversely, it’s wise to limit sugary and acidic foods, which can erode enamel and foster an environment where harmful bacteria thrive, leading to cavities. Additionally, crunchy fruits and vegetables can act like natural toothbrushes, helping to remove surface stains and plaque. Thus, adopting a diet that supports dental health is a proactive and effective way to take care of your teeth at home, complementing your daily oral hygiene routine.

Dealing with Minor Dental Issues: 

Dealing with minor dental issues at home can be a practical aspect of DIY dentistry, provided it’s done with care and understanding of its limits. For instance, if you lose a filling or crown, using a temporary dental adhesive available at pharmacies can be a quick fix until you can see your dentist. Similarly, for minor toothaches, rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and discomfort, and applying a cold compress can alleviate pain and swelling. These measures are not cures but can provide temporary relief and prevent the situation from worsening. It’s important to remember that these are interim solutions; they are not substitutes for professional dental evaluation and treatment. Handling minor dental issues at home effectively can minimize discomfort and provide valuable time before receiving proper dental care.

Emergency First Aid: 

Emergency first aid in dental care, while a form of DIY practice, is crucial in managing immediate dental traumas or acute issues before professional intervention. For example, in the event of a knocked-out tooth, knowing to handle the tooth by the crown (not the root), gently rinsing it without scrubbing, and attempting to reinsert it into the socket or storing it in milk can significantly increase the chances of saving the tooth. Similarly, for a cracked or broken tooth, rinsing the mouth with warm water and applying a cold compress can help manage swelling and pain. These emergency actions are not comprehensive treatments but rather crucial initial responses to prevent further damage and alleviate acute symptoms. It’s important to note that after administering such first aid, seeking immediate dental care is imperative to ensure proper and professional treatment. This knowledge of emergency dental first aid is an invaluable component of DIY dental care, bridging the gap between the incident and professional care.

The Don’ts of DIY Dentistry

Do Not Attempt Complex Procedures: 

Attempting DIY complex dental procedures is a dangerous and ill-advised practice that can lead to severe and long-lasting repercussions. Complex dental procedures, such as extracting teeth, filling cavities, or orthodontic adjustments, require the expertise, precision, and equipment only available to trained dental professionals. When laypersons try to perform these procedures, they risk infection, permanent damage to teeth and gums, and potentially exacerbating the very issues they are trying to resolve. Additionally, without proper sterilization techniques and an understanding of dental anatomy, there’s a high likelihood of causing infections or nerve damage. Such misguided attempts can result in costly, extensive treatments later on, negating any short-term savings or convenience. Dental professionals spend years acquiring the knowledge and skills to perform these procedures safely and effectively. Therefore, for the sake of one’s oral and overall health, it’s crucial to leave complex dental procedures to the professionals and not succumb to the risks of DIY dentistry in these areas.

Avoid Unverified Home Remedies: 

Avoiding unverified home remedies is a critical consideration in DIY dental care. The allure of quick, easy solutions can be tempting, but many home remedies lack scientific backing and can sometimes cause more harm than good. For example, using substances like lemon juice or baking soda for teeth whitening may seem harmless but can lead to enamel erosion over time. Similarly, using aspirin directly on a toothache can cause chemical burns to the gum tissue. These remedies, often passed down as traditional wisdom or popularized through the internet, may not have undergone rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. They can lead to unintended consequences such as increased tooth sensitivity, damage to oral tissues, and masked symptoms of more severe underlying problems. It is always safer to rely on products and methods that have been clinically evaluated and approved by dental health professionals. This cautious approach ensures that your dental care routine supports, rather than compromises, your oral health.

Do Not Delay Seeking Professional Help: 

Delaying professional dental help can lead to serious repercussions for your oral health and overall well-being. Many dental issues, if not addressed promptly, can worsen over time, turning what might have been a simple treatment into a more complex, invasive, and expensive procedure. For instance, a small cavity left untreated can progress to a tooth infection, possibly requiring a root canal or even an extraction. Additionally, dental problems can often be symptomless in their early stages, meaning that without regular check-ups, you might not be aware of developing issues until they become severe. Regular dental visits allow for early detection and treatment of problems like gum disease, which has been linked to other health issues like heart disease and diabetes. Neglecting professional dental care not only jeopardizes your oral health but can also have broader implications for your overall health. Therefore, it is vital to see a dentist regularly and not delay seeking help when dental issues arise.

When to See a Dentist

Recognizing the right time to see a dentist is crucial for maintaining good oral health. You should schedule regular check-ups and cleanings, typically every six months, as these visits are key for preventing dental issues and catching any problems early. However, there are situations where you shouldn’t wait for a routine appointment. If you experience persistent tooth pain, sensitivity to hot or cold that doesn’t go away, swollen or bleeding gums, or difficulties in chewing or biting, these could be signs of underlying dental issues that need immediate attention. Additionally, injuries to the mouth, such as a broken or knocked-out tooth, require urgent dental care. Another red flag is any kind of oral infection, indicated by symptoms like bad breath, pus, or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. In these cases, prompt professional evaluation is necessary to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment. Remember, timely visits to the dentist can save you from more severe problems and treatments in the future.


Taking care of your teeth through regular hygiene and a healthy diet is something you can and should do at home. However, it’s vital to understand the limitations of DIY dental care. Professional dentists are equipped with the knowledge, experience, and tools necessary to handle dental issues effectively and safely. Remember, preserving your dental health is a joint effort between you and your dentist.

Dr. Sam Sadati wearing black suite portrait

Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry.  He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.