TikTok is home to many emerging trends, some of which fall on the cool and convenient side of the spectrum, and others that veer into the danger zone. The latest viral trend bubbling up on the app decidedly leans toward the latter — and dentists advise that this is one so-called beauty hack you shouldn't try.
TikTokers have been racking up tens of thousands of views for "straightening" their teeth by using nail files to sand them down to an even length, and the videos will make you cringe. "I'm going to file my teeth down with a nail file because they're not perfect," user MiaDio said in a clip that currently has over 50 thousand views. "I have some ridges, and we're balling on a budget." In the video, she proceeds to sand down the edges of her teeth until they're visibly smoother... but at what cost?
Dental professionals on the app and all over the internet quickly responded, urging social-media users to sit this one out. "Don't do this!!! It can cause sensitivity if not properly done, I'm a dental assistant trust me," one user wrote. Kami Hoss, D.D.S., CEO of The Super Dentists, tells us that the "trend" can create a slew of long-term problems. "You only get one set of adult teeth to last you a lifetime," says Dr. Hoss. "If you mess up cutting your own hair, it’ll grow back in a few weeks, but your tooth structure will be gone forever, and the potential damage you may cause will not be reversible."
While some may feel a swipe of an emery board across your front teeth might be harmless, Dr. Hoss says that it could permanently damage your smile. "The enamel on the surface of teeth is very thin, and once it's filed down, will never grow back," he explains. "Without the proper thickness of enamel protecting your teeth, your teeth may end up with sensitivity or pain, they will become more prone to cavities, and they will lose their luster and white color." If you file deep enough into the tooth's next layer, Dr. Hoss warns, you might also experience yellowing.
Dr. Hoss says that if your teeth aren't correctly aligned, an experienced orthodontist is the safest solution to realign your smile with minimal damage. "If you just randomly file down one tooth, the gum lines will never line up, and you've made that tooth permanently shorter," Dr. Hoss explains. "Many of these damages are irreversible and cannot be easily fixed in the future by a dentist." Yes, dental work can be costly — but so are the expenses you'll inevitably incur from permanently damaging your only adult teeth after attempting this ill-advised TikTok "trend."