The Risks of DIY Dentistry

The Risks of DIY dentistry

Nowadays, we live in an era of DIYers who often offer up instructions to others on how to “do it themselves”. While this can be a great option for certain things, it can be quite detrimental for others. For example, learning how to replace a sink drain yourself can save you money, however trying to perform any type of medical or dental treatment can have serious health implications. 

With that being said, there are still many people who practice DIY dentistry and this number has increased due to the stay at home orders and recommendations associated with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. DIY dentistry is also being fueled by several instructional videos on social media featuring “DIY dentistry hacks”. Unfortunately, these “hacks” come with significant risks to your oral health. Let’s take a look at some popular DIY dentistry hacks, as well as how they can actually do more harm than good: 

Oil Pulling

woman with spoonful of oil

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves rinsing the inside of the mouth with oil, such as olive, sunflower, or coconut. As the oil is swished around the mouth, it picks up (or pulls) microorganisms from the teeth and gums. Although oil pulling can decrease the amount of bacteria in your mouth when used as a supplementary treatment, it should never be performed as a replacement for traditional dental care. While the practice of oil pulling isn’t necessarily harmful, it has the potential to harm your oral health if it is used as a replacement for other oral hygiene practices. 

Filling Cavities

Some people have started to do their own dental fillings at home. As you can probably imagine, however, they do not have the correct dental materials (or skills) necessary to safely place a filling. One dentist even reported that they had a patient who filled a cavity with an automotive metal adhesive. Because of this, the tooth ended up being extracted. While most people won’t go to that extreme, many people try to use temporary cavity fillers as a long term solution. Unfortunately, this simply does not work and the decay will continue to spread the longer you put off proper dental treatment. 

“Fixing” Broken Teeth

In addition to DIY fillings, some people have also tried to fix their broken teeth in a variety of ways. Some people use over the counter dental wax to cover up sharp edges caused by a chipped tooth. While this is an ideal temporary solution, many people are using this approach as a long term solution. Other people have gone as far as to file their teeth with a nail file to smooth out rough edges caused by a chipped tooth. Filing your teeth damages your tooth enamel, which can make your teeth susceptible to decay and sensitivity. Wearing off the enamel entirely also results in the dentin showing through, which will make your teeth appear yellow. Finally, if you remove too much of your natural tooth structure, this can affect your entire bite and can lead to jaw problems. 

Teeth Whitening with Raw Hydrogen Peroxide

While professional and over the counter whitening products do contain hydrogen peroxide, raw hydrogen peroxide is a different concentration and can do some serious damage to your teeth and gums. In fact, prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide can cause your gums to become irritated and recede. Not to mention, raw hydrogen peroxide damages the tooth enamel. Some people also try whitening with baking soda or bleach, which are not effective and can cause serious problems for your overall health. Professional whitening treatments are one of the most affordable cosmetic dental treatments and you’ll save more money by just doing it right the first time. 

Boil and Bite Mouthguards

Teeth grinding is a common problem brought on by stress and dentists have noticed an upward trend since the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, teeth grinding can damage your teeth and increase the risk of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). For this reason, many dentists recommend using a nightguard. However, over the counter “boil and bite” or “one size fits all” mouthguards have been associated with ulcerations on the gums. Additionally, they have also been found to cause tooth movement since they do not fit properly. 


tooth being held in forceps

Primary teeth are the only teeth you should ever try to pull out on your own. Even if your tooth is extremely loose, this is considered a dental emergency and should be treated by a dentist. There are numerous problems that can occur when someone extracts their own tooth, infection being the most common. Oftentimes, people that extract their own tooth end up needing to have surgery to fix the damage done to the area. 

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.