Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: 5 Smile “Hacks” to Avoid


Over the past few years, we’ve seen a significant rise in do-it-yourself beauty and health trends. Social media users have encouraged their fans to try out homemade hair dye, food repurposed as makeup, and even DIY dentistry. Although it can be fun to experiment with at-home solutions, following tips to whiten or straighten your teeth at home can have disastrous results. 

Here are some of the most popular tooth trends and why they’re dangerous for your smile and oral health. 

1. Rubber band braces 

It’s common for orthodontic treatments to include rubber bands, but closing gaps in your teeth using small elastic bands at home can be dangerous. Your teeth are sensitive, and these self-applied elastics often put too much pressure on them and move them too quickly through bone. Experts have warned against the effects that this “treatment” could have on your bones, teeth, jaw, and gums, as it can lead to pain, inflammation, and even tooth loss.

Rubber bands may seem like a quick fix for a small gap, but they can lead to lasting damage and bite issues that need professional attention. Steer clear of these DIY teeth straighteners and trust experts, like Dr. Hutta and Dr. Price, instead.

2. Filing your teeth

Believe it or not, young adults across the internet have advertised nail files as a way to file down their teeth and make smiles more symmetrical. However, using nail files on your teeth removes the protective enamel—and it doesn’t grow back. If the enamel on your teeth breaks down, you may need to undergo restorative dental work, which can be costly and time-consuming. Filing down your teeth also increases the risk of exposing the nerves, which can lead to pain and sensitivity. Avoid this needless pain by listening to dental professionals; if you’re seeking a straighter smile, you have plenty of safe, certified options available to you at our office.

3. Hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice as teeth whitener

Although many on social media have shared these DIY tooth-whitening methods, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice both have powerful bleaching properties that can be harmful. Hydrogen peroxide applied directly on teeth may cause chemical burns as well as serious damage to your teeth and gums. Lemon juice is highly acidic, so it can dissolve enamel and make you more vulnerable to decay.

There are plenty of certified, over-the-counter teeth whiteners that you can use instead of risking your dental health! However, we always recommend waiting until after treatment for any whitening. Choosing to whiten your smile during treatment can lead to an uneven color that looks less-than-ideal.

4. Pulling teeth

Pulling teeth at home is just like…well, pulling teeth. If you have a tooth that you think needs removing, never try to take it out yourself (unless we’re talking baby teeth)! If you do, you risk exposing yourself to infection or snapping the root of a tooth, which is immensely painful. Without proper training, removing teeth is dangerous and may require you to undergo surgical procedures or receive extensive dental or orthodontic intervention.

5. At-home plaque removal

You may think that removing tartar is easy enough; in fact, you can find scrapers at most grocery and drug stores! However, we don’t recommend these at-home instruments. Plaque-removing tools are sharp, so they can easily cause accidental gum damage, gum recession, or damage to your appliances if used improperly. It’s also possible that you may accidentally shove tartar under the gum line or into hard-to-reach areas, like your brackets.

It takes special knowledge and experience to be able to safely scrape plaque and tartar from your teeth and around orthodontic appliances. Dental experts, like hygienists, need to go through years of training to learn how to do so, and it’s likely that you will cause damage if you try to remove plaque yourself. The best way to fight off plaque and tartar is to follow our orthodontists’ instructions for brushing and flossing with braces or aligners. In addition, you should continue to visit your regular dental provider during treatment.

The bottom line

Although at-home options may seem like quick, easy, and convenient fixes, they cause more trouble than they’re worth. Always skip out on any experimental DIY treatments—but especially when you’re investing in your smile with orthodontic care. Save yourself the time, effort, and pain by contacting our Hutta & Price Orthodontics team for your smile needs!