Posted by Amy Carbone on Nov 3, 2021 9:00:00 AM
Social media trends often provide incorrect or unsafe information in an effort to be entertaining and gain clout. However, these viral activities can sometimes encourage behaviors that are strongly discouraged by healthcare professionals.
Dental trends especially have become a large part of the social media world, and a number of those trends are causing avoidable harm.
Here are three social media trends that your practice should proactively discourage as they can severely impact the oral health of your patients:
1. “DIY” Teeth Filing
Some people on social media have taken to filing their teeth. The trend, which started on TikTok, is often for aesthetic purposes and showcased individuals using nail files to remove “ridges” and other types of perceived defects in their teeth. As with many beauty-related trends, this quickly spread throughout other users as a way to enhance your smile without professional help.
However, as many trained professionals on the social media platform pointed out, the act of filing teeth can cause patients discomfort and pain. Whether or not there were actual defects in these individuals’ teeth, the trend damages enamel and can worsen their oral health situation.
2. Brushing With Activated Charcoal
In 2019, many social media users shared the idea of brushing with activated charcoal as a popular method for teeth whitening. Much like teeth filing, this was primarily done for aesthetic purposes.
However, there are problems with using activated charcoal to brush your teeth, including:
- First, activated charcoal is extremely abrasive, which can damage teeth and enamel. Dentists can convey the fact that activated charcoal causes a wearing away of tooth enamel, which thins or even eliminates the protective coating around people's teeth.
- Secondly, there is no clinical or research-based data that substantiates claims that activated charcoal is good to use as a whitening toothpaste.
3. Attaching Accessories to Teeth
Just before Halloween in 2020, many social media influencers recorded themselves using adhesive to attach accessories to their teeth and upper jaws.
This trend is worrisome for multiple reasons. Not only is it bad for the oral health of your patients, but the adhesive used in the trending videos is similar to superglue and highly toxic in nearly every case. It's never meant for use in human mouths. The chemicals in these adhesives are capable of causing a multitude of dental problems, including but not limited to gingival inflammation.
Similarly, the chemicals that are used to remove that adhesive in the videos are equally as dangerous as the adhesive itself. One of the common removal methods for this trend to be aware of as a dentist is nail polish remover, which as many know should never be ingested or used in the mouth, as it is capable of directly eroding teeth.
How Can You Address These Trends at Your Practice?
Proactively addressing these concerns at your practice is critical for the health and safety of your patients – especially for younger individuals.
You can always begin the conversation by ensuring your patients understand that enamel does not come back once removed, whether it be from a practice seen on social media, or from acidic food and drinks.
From there you can potentially discuss how, unlike hair or fingernails, tooth damage is permanent. Repairs are often uncomfortable and expensive, and in some instances, not possible. For example, nerve damage won't go away and toxification can damage other parts of the body.
Overall, it’s important to make sure as a dentist you are educating your patients on what could happen as a result of these trends and general improper dental care.
Keep Growing Your Patient List
Informing your current patients on the harms of dental-related social media trends is just the first step in ensuring these trends do not continue to harm. By attracting new people to your practice, you will be able to spread the word on how these social media trends can affect patients’ health.
Access our Ebook on growing your patient list to learn about developing and targeting your ideal patient type, earning and utilizing reviews, and other ways to help to grow your dental practice.