You’re a pro at Pinterest do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, so should you branch out into DIY dentistry? Before you decide to do anything, let’s look into the whole DIY movement and explore some possible outcomes.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, do-it-yourself (DIY) is defined as the activity of decorating or repairing your home or of personally making things for your home, rather than paying someone else to do it for you. The DIY movement stems from our desire to have a creative outlet and, in some cases, provides an alternative to the consumer culture.

Pinterest and YouTube provide inspiration and instructions to do almost any project we could dream of doing. A quick trip to Hobby Lobby or to Home Depot and a few hours of time, and voilà, the project is done. At least, that’s how we picture it in our minds as we are browsing the internet, but what actually happens tends to be a little more, well, messy.

The DIY culture has grown beyond Pinterest crafts and small household construction projects. There are now entire television networks and websites for this movement. The desire to DIY has outgrown its origin and has moved into areas that require great skill and expertise. This can be cause for concern for the individual attempting to DIY more comprehensive projects that typically require years of education to properly perform, like dental care.

There’s been a rise in dental DIY in recent years, and it has caused the DIYers some serious problems. This has become such a concern that the American Dental Association (ADA) launched a public awareness campaign, discouraging people from attempting dental DIY.

If you mess-up a home project, it can usually be fixed relatively quickly and without physical pain. But, if you mess-up your teeth—well, that’s another story. You could cause yourself significant pain, as well as more time (and money) spent at your dentist’s office fixing what you tried to do yourself.

Simply put, some things you should leave to the professionals.

According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), a dental student must complete an undergraduate degree before applying to a dental school, which then includes an additional four years of professional clinical education. There’s a lot of time, knowledge, experience, and education that goes into your dentist’s work. DIY dentistry is not a project you want to attempt after watching a few YouTube videos or after Googling some tutorials. However, even though you should not attempt to DIY your dental care, there have still been some people who have done just that. And unfortunately, their projects didn’t turn out as they expected. Here are some cautionary tales of dental DIYs gone wrong.

DIY Teeth Whitening

If you’ve thought about teeth whitening, you’ve probably considered the option to DIY or to even purchase over-the-counter teeth whitening products. This sounds simple and fun, but before you hop over to Walgreens, you should know that there are some serious risks with using over-the-counter whitening products or even so-called “natural” products like activated charcoal.

Before you undergo any dental procedure, it’s important for your dentist to assess the current state of your dental health. Store-bought whitening kits can burn or bleach your gums—usually because the whitening trays don’t fit properly or because your gums need specialized care before your whitening treatment begins. Imagine taking off your whitening strips only to find your gums have been bleached! This condition could last for days or weeks, leaving you in pain and definitely unable to go to that after-work happy hour. Yikes!

A cosmetic dental procedure like teeth whitening is definitely something you want to have professionally done, and the team at Great Miami Dental Associates has the skill to get you the results you want. Dr. Lang will assess your oral health before beginning your whitening treatment to ensure that you don’t suffer from any of the DIY negative side effects. In addition, Dr. Lang knows how to properly apply the whitening solution to prevent gum or tooth damage and to ensure the same level of whitening across all teeth. He also customizes the whitening treatment to correct your current level of staining. That’s not something you get with a store-bought whitening kit.

DIY Denture Repair

You know that old lawn mower you keep tinkering with and trying to fix so you can put off buying a new one? One woman wore a temporary prosthetic tooth for eight years, which she intended to be a placeholder until a more permanent solution, like a dental implant, could be completed. She kept gluing and regluing the appliance until it was so fragile that one day her false tooth popped right off while eating, leaving her wondering if she had swallowed it and how she’d get it back if that was the case. Don’t do that with your oral appliances (like dentures). If you want to dabble in DIY repairs, stick to household appliances.

DIY Cavity Repair

So, your dentist said you have some cavities that need to be filled, but you think you can fix or reverse the cavity yourself? A quick YouTube search pulls up videos that outline how to reverse a cavity by changing diet or even by “oil pulling”—a previously popular dental DIY technique. This could be problematic because you’re relying on coconut oil to heal your tooth decay without any professional guidance. This could lead to worsening tooth decay and to a more intense dental treatment, like a root canal or a crown—or even to the worst-case scenario . . . a complete extraction of the tooth. Once a tooth is missing, other teeth will move and shift to accommodate the space left behind. This can cause several problems, such as a decline in the overall appearance of your smile, a decreased ability to talk and chew, and the potential for jaw pain. To prevent this, you’ll need a dental implant to hold the space of the missing tooth. Now the DIY cavity project has turned into a major dental procedure, which was what you were trying to avoid in the first place, right?

According to the ADA, you can reverse a small cavity in its early stages by using a dentist-supervised fluoride treatment to repair the tooth’s enamel. Combined with close monitoring of the tooth’s condition by Dr. Lang, this could be an effective solution for you. Before you jump to conclusions about what treatment you need, and before trying to fix it yourself with coconut oil, consult with Dr. Lang and with his Great Miami Dental Associates team so you can get a clearer picture of your tooth’s health and of the best treatment recommendations.

DIY Orthodontics

After a college student made his own invisible braces with a 3D printer, there was a surge of DIY orthodontic attempts. Something the news stories didn’t share was the amount of time and research that went into the student’s ability to even make the braces in the first place. Who has time for that? Dentists and orthodontists have already spent years in school so that you can just show up at their office and get what you need without spending endless hours online hoping to figure it out for yourself. Oh, and you’ll also need a 3D printer, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on its quality.

There are also several YouTube tutorials about how to use small rubber bands to straighten teeth, but this worrisome trend could ruin your gums or worse—it could make your teeth fall out altogether! Instead of risking painful and potentially permanent damage to your teeth and jaw, talk to Dr. Lang about the treatment options that are best for you.

Some people may have the best of intentions when attempting DIY dental procedures, but many are just looking for ways to save money. What they may not consider is that the cost to fix what they mess up will likely be higher than what it would have originally cost to have a trained dentist fix the problem in the first place—more expensive, more time consuming, and more painful! Schedule an appointment with Dr. Lang to discuss your problem so you can get all the information you need in order to make an informed decision. Dr. Lang will explain the problem to you, will answer your questions, and will discuss financial arrangements so you can comfortably fit the treatment into your budget. You can also work with Dr. Lang and with his Great Miami Dental Associates team to develop an at-home care plan to achieve and maintain optimal oral health. (This is where you get to do DIY dental without the negative consequences!)

If you’re considering a dental DIY—whatever your dental condition may be—first consider visiting a family and cosmetic dentist like Dr. Steven Lang. Your health deserves the best care possible, and it’s worth it to invest in that. The team at Great Miami Dental Associates is standing by to take care of you. Call today to schedule your appointment!

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