What are the most important and most effective at-home dental tools you can use? Simply: a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss! There are many other dental products out there that promise professional results, and we wanted to take the time to caution you about several of them.
Using many types of dental tools improperly and without proper training can cause severe and permanent damage to your mouth. In addition, many dentist tools advertised as being of professional grade and quality are actually inferior products, which we would never use or approve of in our dental practice. Please take a moment to read the following list of dental products to avoid, and save yourself from potentially serious and permanent dental damage!
Avoid These Dental Products:
Floss picks are simply not effective at cleaning between teeth. They use a very small segment of floss to clean the entire mouth, which means that you are collecting and transferring bacteria between every single tooth! Besides that, the straight piece of floss in floss picks cannot properly curve around the sides of teeth and under the gum line, which is necessary for a good clean.
Toothpicks are far more dangerous than most people realize. The hard piece of wood can scrape away your tooth enamel - which does not grow back or heal itself once it is damaged. We’ve also seen far too many slivers of broken toothpicks getting lodged between teeth and breaking off into the gums, and in some cases causing infection and permanent damage to the teeth and/or gums. It sounds grisly, and it can be. Please stay away from toothpicks!
Scrapers and Scalers
Unfortunately, these tools meant for use by trained dentists and hygienists can sometimes be found in stores and online. They are very sharp tools meant to scrape away hardened calculus (tartar) and plaque buildup from your teeth, but if used improperly, they can very easily cause serious damage to your teeth and mouth. If misused, scrapers and scalers can permanently damage tooth enamel, push plaque and tartar beneath the gum line (increasing your risk of gum irritation, infection or abscess), gouge tooth roots, and cut into the soft tissues of your mouth, like your gums, cheeks and tongue. Again, plaque and tartar scrapers are meant to be used by trained dental professionals only. Do not try them at home!
If you have a small chip or slightly jagged tooth edge, you might be tempted to try using a tooth file. But filing your own teeth is extremely risky, and you can easily file down your teeth too much and permanently lose tooth enamel, exposing dentin – the softer, yellow, nerve-exposed layer underneath tooth enamel. If the dentin layer is exposed, your tooth is extremely vulnerable to decay and damage, as well as far more sensitive to hot, cold and acidic foods and drinks. In these cases, the only way to restore and protect your teeth is by a tooth restoration, such as a dental bonding, veneer or crown. Like plaque scrapers, tooth files should only be used by trained dentists!
Some people try using tiny, over-the-counter gap bands to close spaces between their teeth, or even just plain rubber bands. Straightening and shifting teeth is a delicate process that must be planned and plotted out carefully to avoid damage to your teeth, nerves and oral tissues. Moving teeth too quickly or at the wrong angle can cause nerve damage, misaligned teeth, future dental issues like tooth loss, and even potentially cause you to throw off your jaw alignment.
If you’ve ever had a filling or crown come loose, you might have searched for products to help keep them in place temporarily. These repair kits or dental adhesives are meant to be a very temporary solution until you can get to your dentist to have the filling or crown fixed back into place with special dental cement and often a curing light to help harden and bond the filling or crown to your tooth. Attempting to use these temporary products as a long term solution can result in infection, chewing and digestion issues, speech issues, chronic tooth pain, and even tooth loss.
Trying to remove your own teeth is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your oral health, and can very easily result in broken teeth, pain, trauma, and permanent damage and/or infection to your gums, neighboring teeth, and jaw bone. When dentists remove a tooth, it is after years of studying, and years of training with very specific techniques and special tools. Please, do not believe any products advertising themselves as “easy” or “DIY” home teeth extraction kits, and do not try to extract your teeth on your own. Save yourself pain, trauma, and potential permanent damage and infection – please leave it to the professionals!