If you’re social-media savvy, you don’t need us to tell you that TikTok is an influential platform. Unsurprisingly for a video-based medium, it’s become a hub of tips and tricks – especially on the beauty scene. But one trend in 2020 disturbed a popular orthodontist so much he had to speak out against it.
Of course, cringe-inducing TikTok trends are nothing new. Over the years, some of them have gained a reputation for being, well, a bit reckless if not outright dangerous. One which did the rounds in the summer of 2020 involves performing ad-hoc cosmetic surgery to a part of yourself. And it will cause you a lot of pain if things go wrong.
The new fad led to a lot of health experts shaking their heads, and the New York Post even called those taking part “bozos.” But it horrified dentists most of all. Why? Well, the “procedure” involves altering your teeth.
Naturally, it is an unfortunate truth that going to the dentist can be expensive. Undergoing cosmetic dentistry procedures – or even non-cosmetic, more essential ones – will set the average person back a lot of money. In fact, Americans spent an astonishing $136 billion on dental care in 2018, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute.
Though trying to do dentistry work yourself will probably cost even more in the long run. If you’re not a professional, you likely won’t know how harmful what you are doing really is. Sure, you might initially get the results you’re looking for, but the long-term damage could be significant.
Yet none of that stopped one particular craze on TikTok from spreading like wildfire. It began during the summer of 2020 – a time when it was admittedly harder to visit a dentist in a proper clinic. Various TikTok users started singing the praises of an incredibly dangerous trend which has left the dental world astonished.
It’s worth remembering, though, that not all of crazes on TikTok have been quite as questionable. And considering the popularity of the platform, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that celebs have been using it, too. You can actually find a wealth of fashion tips from famous people on there to enhance your wardrobe.
For instance, did you see a lot of people sporting straw hats during summer 2020? If so, then you can apparently thank the social media platform for that particular look. Well, not just TikTok – celebrity mothers also played their part. Actress Jessica Alba from the Sin City movies uploaded a clip of herself and daughter rocking the accessory during the season.
What’s more, one of the stars from the High School Musical series took to TikTok. Vanessa Hudgens showed she’s still got the moves with a “Cha Cha Slide” dance and contributed to the white button-down blouse trend simultaneously. So if you got caught up in the blouse craze, TikTok played its part there, too.
Speaking of fancy footwork, the platform is also famous for its short dance clips. Mackenzie Ziegler combined her passion for professional dance with a keen fashion sense in her own TikTok upload. She showcased neon green sweatpants and a matching top, and this helped spark the single-color bright clothes craze. Nothing goes hand-in-hand with fashion like cosmetics, though.
TikTok’s beauty trends boomed in 2020 as many retailers closed their doors. So makeup artists took to providing useful style tips at home instead. Take the notoriously fiddly winged eyeliner look, for instance, which is a particularly popular TikTok style.
On the subject of eyes, influencer James Charles lit up TikTok with a colorful makeup style earlier in 2020. He kick-started the rainbow eyeshadow craze with some impressive videos that blend multiple shades together flawlessly. And not only does this look hide creases, it also goes with a plethora of different outfits.
This is not the only look that Charles has made viral, either. Among his other videos, the influencer is also a dab hand at lip, face and eye makeup. And his clips sparked a challenge that participants took to the next level. They got creative with the addition of wigs and other twists on the theme.
Other TikToker users have made it their mission to bring the outdoors inside to brighten up people’s lives. Take the cloud-shaped eye shadow, for example, which shows you how to incorporate a sky style into your look. It uses a blue base together with cloud designs on your eyelids to really leverage your creative freedom.
But TikTok isn’t all about buying new cosmetics to refresh your look. When it comes to makeup, there are also plenty of clips out there with money saving life hacks. For instance, have you ever wanted to make your own makeup? Recent viral trends include a scented and flavored homemade lip gloss and even an acne-concealing toner.
So as you can see, not all TikTok trends are met with condemnation from the relevant experts. Yet one instance in 2020 was so concerning it incited a response from a professional orthodontist. And that man is someone with an established online presence. He is called Dr. Benjamin Winters – otherwise known by his online handle: The Bentist.
Winters belongs to the American Association of Orthodontists, and he works a day job at Westrock Orthodontics. Though it’s his humorous clips of himself and colleagues having fun at the workplace that brought him online fame. Incredibly, he has an astonishing 6.5 million followers and over 200 million likes on his TikTok profile at the time of writing.
In 2019 the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette declared Winters to be the Best of the Best Northwest Arkansas Orthodondist. Needless to say, the expert knows what he’s talking about when it comes to dental work. So what’s the TikTok craze that was so awful it made him speak out against it, you ask? Well, it was DIY teeth filing. Yikes!
If you’re wondering what filing your own teeth entails, prepare to cringe. It’s not for the faint-hearted – especially if you’re squeamish about your teeth or have sensitive ones. The process involves getting a nail file or something similar and using it to shave your teeth down. Yep, it’s enough to make you wince.
And this begs the question: why would anyone want to do this kind of thing to their teeth? To answer that, you need look no further than the amount of money that goes into the dental industry. Money Under 30 notes that Americans pay up to $50 a month for dental insurance.
Yet this type of coverage only covers so much dental work. You see, there’s an annual cap on the insurance, and if you exceed it you have to pay the extra charges as well. Yahoo! Finance writes that an average teeth-cleaning procedure can set you back up to $288.
The publication adds that this amount covers more than just the teeth-cleaning itself, though. It also includes the costs incurred from general cleaning, exams and X-rays. And experts suggest getting this procedure twice a year to keep other oral hygiene problems at bay.
There are obviously much more expensive procedures available, too. So if you have more complicated problems with your teeth, you can expect to pay even larger bills. Therefore, it’s not surprising that an apparent “life hack” like teeth filing went viral. It could save you so much money, right?
Winters revealed that he’d been sent a series of videos on this bizarre and dangerous craze via social media. So what was his response? Well, the orthodontist’s initial reaction video on TikTok was delivered with his typical trademark wit.
The video begins with a short clip of a young woman filing her teeth. But Winters isn’t impressed. He immediately pulls off his face mask and launches into a tirade of disapproval. Addressing her, the orthodontist says, “Your teeth are so pretty and you just chopped them right off…”
But Winters’ rant doesn’t finish there, and he continues to berate the woman. He goes on, “… Don’t get mad at me when your teeth are as sensitive as a two-year-old’s crying over spilt milk. Because I ain’t gonna help you. You’re gonna need some veneers or something.” He also hints at what could have happened.
“Hopefully you didn’t go far enough that some blood just went pfft, right out of there,” the orthodontist says as he mimes the gory picture. The clip finishes with him walking off camera muttering, “Anyway, I can’t handle you guys anymore.” Although Winters’ clip is tongue-in-cheek, he has a serious message to TikTok users caught up in the craze.
You see, the orthodontist was right when he mentioned a grisly consequence of filing teeth yourself. And he went into more detail on the subject in August 2020 in another social media reaction video – this time on Instagram. In this clip, Winters visibly winces and covers his own mouth as he watches the teeth filing process.
Winters then reveals that this filing procedure is available at professional dentists. But there’s a world of difference between what orthodontists do and shaving your own teeth at home. He says, “This is actually something we do. It’s called enameloplasty, okay? As dentists and orthodontists, we do this with a lot of people…”
The expert explains that you need specialist knowledge to perform an enameloplasty to avoid the risk of serious harm. Winters reveals, “… You need to know specifics before you can do stuff like this. You can’t do this yourself with a nail file. It looks like she has a nail file she’s using.”
Winters continues, “The problem with that, is that everybody has a set amount of enamel, okay?” No doubt you’ve heard the term enamel, which describes the substance covering your teeth. But did you know that it’s composed of calcium and phosphate that form a crystal sheath for your dentures? It is also the toughest tissue in the human body.
The orthodontist explains that breaching this enamel is very bad for your teeth. Winters goes on, “And that set amount of enamel, once you go through it, you hit your nerve and blood and pain and nastiness. It’s just terrible, you don’t want that!”
Teeth with no enamel suffer from a chronic weakness and can’t chew or bite like they should. By removing this protective layer, you expose the vulnerable internal parts of your choppers. Worryingly, it will make your teeth terribly weak and unable to stand up to the pressure eating causes.
“It’s bad news,” Winters exclaims. “You’ve got to leave something like that to an expert like this. Because we know exactly how much enamel we can take off to be healthy for the teeth and get a good look.” According to Winters, the young woman in the video needed other procedures before an enameloplasty.
“So she probably needed her teeth to be raised up and then a very light polishing,” the orthodontist explains. “Instead, she just chopped off half her tooth. So no, I do not condone doing this.” And there you go – a professional orthodontist has revealed exactly why this craze should be nipped in the bud.
Worryingly enough, though, DIY enameloplasties aren’t the first dental work craze to hit TikTok in 2020. In August that year another dangerous video caught media attention which involved whitening your own teeth – with bleach. Of course, we don’t have to tell you this is a bad idea. But the clip was so popular professionals sprang up to condemn it.
The clip shows a woman using a Q-tip to apply hydrogen peroxide directly onto her teeth. And sales of bleach soon skyrocketed. Though U.K. dentist Dr. Kunal Patel from Love Teeth Dental Practice told the Metro newspaper in August 2020 that this is a terrible idea. It can cause long-term problems that are best avoided.
Patel said, “Applying hydrogen peroxide – or bleach as it’s more commonly known – is likely to lead to painful tooth sensitivity at best. In the worst-case scenario, a high concentration could bring about severe burns on the inside of the mouth, lips and gums. It could even result in the need for gum grafts and tooth loss, which can be tricky to fix.”
That’s not the worst problem that hydrogen peroxide can cause, either. Patel told Metro, “Even more worrying is the fact that bleach can be deadly if consumed. There’s a very simple reason why all dentists recommend only ever having your teeth whitened by a registered dental professional at a clinic.”
Patel revealed that in-store dental whitening treatments contain legally balanced and safe amounts of chemicals. He concluded, “Treatments bought over the internet… like hydrogen peroxide are much stronger, and bring with them the very real risk of burns and tooth damage.” So, visit a professional if you’re after the perfect grin. Or you may just be wiping the smile off your own face.