At-home dental care is nothing new. People have been taking routine care of their teeth for years.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to take on more forms of dental care by themselves, so they don’t have to visit the dentist and risk getting sick. This idea of “DIY dentistry” has become increasingly popular — but is it safe?
The short answer is: it depends on what you’re doing. Some at-home dental treatments are safe and beneficial to do at home, while others really, really aren’t. In this article, we’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts of at-home dental care.
Dental Care You Can Do at Home
There are plenty of things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and clean at home. Most of them are preventative treatments. Here are some that are the most safe and beneficial for you:
Brushing and Flossing
Obviously, brushing and flossing your teeth is completely safe and (strongly recommended!) to do at home. You should complete each regularly — brushing at least twice per day for two minutes, and flossing at least once per day. Bonus points if you remember to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months!
At-home whitening treatments are usually sold over the counter at grocery and drug stores. They come in various forms, including toothpastes, rinses, and strips, but they all contain a mild peroxide solution that has whitening properties.
These treatments are generally safe to use, and they’re a good place to start. Whitening strips are your best bet, as their results will usually last a couple of weeks without causing any damage to your enamel. However, a whitening treatment provided by your dentist is guaranteed to have better results.
In many cases, mouthwashes can do more harm than good, and regular brushing and flossing is a better option. However, if you’re in a situation where you need a mouthwash, you can use one that doesn’t contain alcohol, or one that’s recommended or prescribed by your dentist.
Dental Care You Shouldn’t Do at Home
If you have a dental problem that is more complicated than any of the preventative treatments listed above, it’s important that you visit your dentist. Trying to do them DIY-style at home can cause more serious problems. Some examples are listed below:
Fixing Cracked or Broken Dentures
If your dentures are cracked or broken, don’t try to repair them at home. There are a couple of denture repair kits available at grocery and drug stores, but they aren’t very effective. Also, some of them include harsh chemicals that you could ingest if used improperly.
Fixing Chipped or Broken Teeth
If you’ve broken or chipped a tooth, you may revert to using dental wax to cover up the sharp edge — but that should only be a temporary solution until you can get in to see your dentist. Broken teeth can lead to serious infections if not taken care of quickly and effectively.
You should also avoid filing the tooth’s sharp edge down with a nail filer or sandpaper. This can further damage your teeth and cause infection.
Alleviating Recurrent Tooth Pain
Some spontaneous tooth pain is normal, depending on what you’ve eaten or if your teeth are shifting around. However, recurrent or constant tooth pain isn’t normal and requires attention.
If you’ve had tooth pain that has lasted more than a couple of days, you shouldn’t try to alleviate it with over-the-counter pain topicals. They can result in chemical burns and mask the bigger issue. Instead, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
Extracting a Tooth
Unless you’re a child and one of your baby teeth is loose, you shouldn’t try to pull your own teeth. You could pull it incorrectly and cause serious damage to your teeth and gums. Many times, people who try to extract their own teeth snap them off at the gum line and leave a root tip that can easily get infected.
Filling a Cavity
If you suspect you have a cavity, you should go to the dentist to get it fixed. While there are some at-home cavity fillers available at grocery and drug stores, they don’t work well. They don’t stay attached to your tooth for long, and they’re known to give people allergic reactions. Improperly filling a cavity can lead to more serious dental decay issues.
While there are some forms of dental care you can safely do at home, for anything more serious it’s better to consult your dentist at West Michigan Dentistry first. We can help you choose which products are safe to use on your own, and which procedures are safer and more effective in the hands of a trained professional. Give us a call or schedule your appointment online today.