5 TikTok Dental Challenges that Are Dangerous for Teens

Many TikTok dental challenges promise beautiful smiles, but are actually dangerous for teenagers. We'll tell you about the risky practices proposed by some videos on this social network.
5 TikTok Dental Challenges that Are Dangerous for Teens
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 05 October, 2023

Challenges on social networks are quite common among young people. These “challenges” or viral trends are invitations launched by a user of the platform for others to replicate, film, and share. But there are some dental challenges that are popular on TikTok that can be truly dangerous for teenagers.

In this article, we’ll tell you which TikTok dental challenges are the most dangerous for anyone’s mouth. Knowing the risks of these challenges will help you prevent damage to your child.

1. The teeth filing challenge

One of the most dangerous TikTok dental challenges for teenagers is the teeth filing challenge. It consists of using a nail file or sandpaper to grind down and “improve” the appearance of the teeth, giving them a more even edge.

Some users of the social network also propose filing the teeth to give them a conical shape and obtain shark-like teeth.

The practice of grinding down teeth can cause irreversible damage to the tooth enamel and even expose the dentin and damage the pulp. A letter to the editor, published in May 2021 in the British Dental Journal, points out that this trend increases the risk of causing hypersensitivity and damage to tooth tissue and nerves.

2. Home teeth whitening

The desire for a bright, white smile has led some teens to try the dangerous TikTok challenge of home teeth whitening. It consists of using household products and applying them to the teeth to make them whiter and remove stains.

These are some of the products that the digital influencers suggest in their videos:

  • Baking soda
  • Strawberries
  • Lemon juice
  • Banana peel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Cleaning products such as sulfurous acid and formaldehyde
  • Magic eraser (a melamine sponge that removes stains from household surfaces)

Although in some cases, they’re natural substances, the use of these ingredients on the teeth can wear down the tooth enamel and irritate the gums. This increases the risk of developing cavities, tooth hypersensitivity, and mucosal lesions.

An article published by the Universidad Iberoamericana states that tooth sensitivity after tooth whitening is the most common side effect. But when the tooth enamel suffers excessive wear, the dentin underneath is revealed, which is yellowish.

Therefore, the effect of this home practice is contrary to the whitening that’s sought because in these cases, the teeth will look more yellow.

3. Do-it-yourself orthodontics

Several TikTok users have created dental challenges to change the alignment of their teeth using homemade items. For example, elastic bands are placed between teeth in order to generate pressure to move them or close spaces. There are also videos that explain how to pretend you’re wearing braces.

Moving teeth is a matter that should be approached with great caution. Trained orthodontists, before starting treatment with braces, make a thorough study of the structures of the mouth and plan the best therapy for each case. Therefore, each tooth can occupy its proper place without causing damage in the process.

Home orthodontics isn’t able to change the positioning of the teeth to their proper place.

In addition, exerting incorrect forces on the teeth can damage the pulp tissue and periodontium, restrict irrigation, cause color changes in the teeth, and even lead to the loss of teeth. Elastic bands can also favor the accumulation of bacteria and inflame the gums.

4. Fake teeth with art materials

Another one of the popular dental challenges on TikTok that’s dangerous for teens is DIY in the mouth. The proposal consists of creating fake teeth with art materials such as clay, porcelain, or resin and using them as false teeth.

Thermoplastic materials, which are softened in boiling water and then molded for use in the mouth, are quite popular on the social network. While it may seem like a harmless practice, this trend has risks.

First, the materials used to make the “DIY teeth” aren’t meant to be put in the mouth. Accidentally ingesting these substances can cause health problems.

In addition, some materials that are put into the mouth can change their conformation by hardening and subsequently injuring oral tissues when attempting to remove them.

In a letter to the editor published in the British Dental Journal, a dental professional recounts the case of a 15-year-old patient who had to undergo general anesthesia to remove foreign material that had become stuck in his mouth.

The teenager had attempted to make a custom thermoplastic removable splint with vampire fangs, following directions from a TikTok video. As you can see, these trends lead to accidents that require complex dental procedures to fix.

5. Superglue to fix teeth

Using superglue to attach objects to teeth is another of TikTok’s dangerous dental challenges for teens. The idea is to use this adhesive to stick decorations on their teeth, especially vampire fangs for Halloween parties.

Superglue is a cyanoacrylate-based product with a high bonding strength for household repair. It’s capable of quickly bonding almost any type of material. But its use in the mouth can cause health problems if accidentally ingested.

Moreover, due to the glue’s high resistance to moisture, it can be difficult to peel the ornaments from the teeth. This can cause damage to the tooth when trying to remove the decorations or leave traces of the substance on the enamel, affecting the esthetics and favoring the accumulation of bacterial plaque in the area.

Talk about the dangerous TikTok dental challenges with young people

It’s important for adults to be aware of these types of TikTok dental challenges that are dangerous for teenagers so they can talk about them with their children. Talking as a family about the irreversible damage these trends can cause helps young people avoid taking unnecessary risks for fleeting moments of popularity.

As an adult, you should have an open, non-judgmental dialogue with your teen. The sense of belonging and the desire for popularity are important factors for teenagers. Viral challenges can give them the feeling that if they don’t meet them, they’ll be left out of their circle of friends. Therefore, you should be empathetic and patient with their feelings.

Some tips you can follow are:

  • Listen to their concerns and explain yours.
  • Encourage your children to think about the long-term repercussions before participating in any viral challenge.
  • Point out that the dangers associated with TikTok dental challenges can be irreversible, causing unnecessary pain and damage to your child’s mouth.
  • Schedule an appointment with a trusted dentist to clarify any doubts.

Finally, help your teenager to accept themselves and develop healthy self-esteem, where overall health and well-being matter more than appearance. This way, you can help your teen maintain a healthy smile and avoid the unnecessary risks associated with TikTok challenges.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.