Don’t Try DIY Dentistry!

Why professional dental care is the only sensible solution.

Dental treatmentThere was a time when we would not have dreamed of attempting to do anything to our own teeth, other than perhaps pull out a wobbly first tooth (something we don’t recommend by the way).

In these internet savvy days though, many of us take it upon ourselves to try to find cheaper ‘shortcuts’ in many areas of our lives.

Whilst some of these can be useful, such as decorating tips, when it comes to medical and dental advice, this can be foolhardy and even dangerous.

In today’s AJ Dental Group blog, we will take a look at some of the more common examples of DIY dentistry that you are likely to come across if you search for these shortcuts. But please don’t try them!

Teeth whitening

By far the most common DIY dentistry tips surround teeth whitening. This is perhaps not surprising as many people believe that most discolouration simply occurs on the enamel of our teeth and can therefore simply be cleaned off. This is not completely correct as discolouration also occurs internally. As we will see in a moment, going the DIY route can lead to many potentially serious pitfalls along the way.

Let us start by looking at the commercial avenues that a lot of people follow in the form of tooth whitening toothpastes. There is a presumption that because these are commercially available, they must be safe. Even this ‘safe option’ can cause damage to our teeth though.

It is first of all worth noting that these toothpastes aim to whiten teeth by including similar active bleaching ingredients to those found in a professional teeth whitening treatment. The key difference though is in the quantity in each case. A professional whitening treatment is carried out and supervised by a dentist and the amount of active ingredient allowed is relatively large. The same is not the case for toothpastes, which can be misused or even eaten by young children and for this reason, there are strict limits on the amount of bleaching agents allowed. This means that they are largely ineffective and when it comes to whitening your teeth, you shouldn’t expect to see great results.

Where some of these toothpastes cross into dangerous territory is that they might include additional abrasive materials in order to remove surface staining. Although this may improve the whiteness of your teeth, there is also a real risk that damage can be caused to the enamel, particularly if you brush too hard. Once this becomes damaged, not only are your teeth likely to become sensitive, but the risk of cavities is much greater.

Lemon juice ‘solution’

There are a number of ‘natural’ teeth whitening procedures that can be found quite easily. Some of these are basically useless whilst others are downright harmful. One of the most common of these is the use of lemon juice to brush your teeth; the idea being that the acidity of lemon juice will effectively whiten your teeth. Whilst there may be some truth in this, it is also a fact that the acidity will also lead to enamel erosion, especially if used on a regular basis. The damage can be so severe that you may eventually need to replace the surface enamel with restorations e.g. the use of dental veneers.

Orthodontics

Until quite recently, we would have written solely about the somewhat bizarre suggestions that you can straighten your own teeth using a series of elastic bands. This idea is so ludicrous that it can only have been suggested by someone with no idea of dentistry at all. If you do come across this suggestion, please don’t even think about trying it. You are likely to be in quite a bit of pain and there is every chance that your teeth (if they survive) will be in an even worse state than they were before.

We believe that few people would entertain the above idea but there is a new one which may well attract a large number of users.

An American firm has opened a number of shops in the UK and also has an online presence where people can have their teeth straightened using a similar method to Invisalign, i.e. plastic trays that fit over the teeth, gradually adjusting their position. At first glance, this seems perfectly workable, but there are potentially serious drawbacks.

The trays are produced either from scans taken in the shops or from an impression which you take yourself from a kit that they send you. All well and good so far, but even at this stage, there has been no general examination of your teeth. If gum disease is present for example, this could weaken the hold that the bone has on the tooth root and orthodontics could cause them to loosen even more if the gum disease is not treated before the trays are used. The same can be said about tooth decay. Any problems should be rectified before orthodontic treatment is carried out, but this is not the case where there is no physical examination of your teeth.

If you have orthodontic treatment at our Woking dental clinic, your progress will be checked at regular intervals by a qualified dentist and any adjustments made to ensure a safe and effective outcome. This ‘online alternative’ claims to do the same but through looking at photographs that the patient sends in. This appears to be risky at best as there are many problems that can only be seen at close quarters during a physical examination.

Please remember that your teeth are living entities that includes nerves and they are subject to sensitivity and toothache when they are compromised. Please do not risk your teeth by attempting to treat them yourselves. Our dental team have a wealth of experience between them and are well positioned to provide the most appropriate treatment in a safe manner and environment in order to produce the best outcome.

If you are not happy with the colour of your teeth or think that they are crooked, we are always happy to help. If cost is an issue, please talk to us about the payment plans that we have available to help you to spread the cost of the treatment. For advice on anything dental related, or to book an appointment with the AJ Dental Group, please call us on 01483 766355 or 01932 352333 (Parkside : Waterside practices).

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