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Across the country, dental professionals help people take care of their teeth and gums. These dental practitioners and their staff have specialized training, allowing them to accurately diagnose and treat a wide range of potential problems before they become worse. From children to adults and even the elderly, dentists are the front line in the fight against tooth decay. Unfortunately, with the rise of online video sharing and a growing number of at-home dentistry kits, many people are forgoing routine trips to the dentist, opting instead to take a “Do it Yourself” (DIY) approach to dentistry. In this guide, we’ll talk about the potential dangers associated with DIY dentistry and its products, helping you to make smart decisions about your oral health.

DIY Dentistry Products: Giving Rise to Potential Dangers

For years, certain dental products have been available over the counter. These products, including tooth whitening kits, emergency filling kits, and specialized cleaning tools, allowed people to take care of their teeth at home. These products and kits were believed by many individuals to be easier to use and less costly than a visit to the family dental clinic. After orthodontic developments in the dental industry, with braces-free options for creating straight teeth, were introduced, the at-home market was ripe for opportunity. In more recent years, at-home tooth straightening systems have gained impressive market penetration, with dozens of such products available online and in store shelves. These products, while convenient, may contribute to damage to the teeth and delicate tissues of the mouth, potentially opening the door to much more serious oral health concerns. 

What Are the Dangers of DIY Dentistry?

The potential dangers of taking complex dental products and attempting to do at-home treatments with them are varied, both in their type and severity. Tooth whitening kits, for example, use powerful chemical agents and/or lighting systems that strip away surface stains, leaving teeth bright and shiny. Used incorrectly or too often, however, can lead to chemical burns on the gums and tongue. The protective enamel surface of the teeth may be affected as well, damaging this layer and allowing bacteria to penetrate to the more delicate inner structures of the teeth. 

At-home tooth straightening kits are a different story altogether. Orthodontics is a specialized field requiring years of professional training and experience. At-home kits bypass the orthodontic professional; users simply have to submit some basic information about their teeth and their alignment to get started with aligners, which are readily available by shopping online. The danger inherent in these at-home kits is that they may not fit properly, causing tooth alignment to worsen instead of improve. Tooth aligning kits may also cause shifting teeth to strip away enamel surfaces or gum tissue, leading to more severe problems like tooth decay and periodontitis (gum disease).

Seeking Professional Help

Luckily, many of the manufacturers of at-home tooth straightening products and tooth whitening systems agree that dentistry should be left to professionals. These manufacturers stress that at-home products should only be used under the guidance and care of dentists, particularly those that offer tooth alignment products. Dentists can help ensure the aligners fit correctly and move teeth in accordance with personal needs. To be more aware, consumers can take an important step when selecting products for purchase. Certain at-home products are labeled with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of Acceptance, meaning the products meet certain guidelines established by dental professionals. With the ADA seal and the care of a qualified dental expert, consumers can have healthy teeth and gums without the dangers associated with DIY dentistry.