At first glance, it might seem like it goes without saying that no one should try to file or shave down their own teeth. Yet people all over the world – and most especially young people lately – are trying this exact same thing at home. As the Washington Post reported much of the blame for this goes to the social media platform TikTok.
During the pandemic, a bored young woman decided to file down her own teeth rather than go to the dentist. She cited COVID-19 and finances as her motivations. Now teens and adults everywhere are following suit, sometimes with disastrous and irreversible results.
Read on to learn exactly why you should never try to shave down or file down your teeth and what you should do instead.
Why Would Someone Need Their Teeth Contoured?
In the world of professional dentistry, tooth filing or shaving is called “teeth contouring.”
As WebMD points out, the medical name for this procedure is “odontoplasty” or “enameloplasty.”
Teeth contouring can be done for cosmetic or oral health reasons or both. Teeth contouring must be done carefully to avoid causing irreparable damage to the tooth.
Here are the main reasons why dentists sometimes perform a teeth contouring procedure for patients.
1. Chipped, jagged, pitted, bulging or other irregularity in the teeth.
Over time, teeth can sometimes become chipped or damaged cosmetically through natural wear and tear.
Sometimes, trauma from playing sports, falls, vehicle accidents and other incidents can also cause a tooth to be chipped or jagged.
As Healthline describes, often teeth contouring is all that is needed to restore a pleasing appearance.
2. Teeth are uneven in length in a visible area of the mouth.
Teeth can be different lengths for a variety of reasons. Common reasons range from genetics to uneven wear or tear to the after-effects of orthodontia.
If the teeth appear quite uneven in an area of the bite that is visible, this can make you feel self-conscious. This is exactly why the TikTok user we mentioned here earlier decided to file down her own teeth during quarantine.
3. Uneven bite is causing difficulty, discomfort or pain.
In some cases, the unevenness may cause you difficulty with chewing your food. You may also begin to experience headaches, jaw pain, tooth pain and similar discomfort.
An uneven bite can eventually lead to more serious issues if left untreated.
4. Treatment for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
As the esteemed Mayo Clinic points out, TMJ disorder is a more serious jaw problem that can arise for a variety of reasons ranging from genetics to night-time tooth grinding, or bruxism.
TMJ involves both the muscles of the jaw and the jaw joint itself as well as the bite. Sometimes teeth contouring can ease some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
What Are The Benefits Of Teeth Contouring?
You can reap a variety of benefits from having your dentist do teeth contouring.
1. A more pleasing, confident smile.
If you have ever looked at your smile in a mirror and wished for straighter teeth, you already understand one of the potential benefits of having teeth contouring done by a dentist.
However, the benefits extend far beyond simple cosmetic reasons.
2. Cessation of jaw or tooth pain related to bite irregularities.
Pain is always a good reason to talk with your dentist about teeth contouring.
Even a small adjustment in your bite can sometimes deliver a lot of relief.
While jaw pain and tooth pain is not always related to TMJ disorder, in some cases having teeth contouring done can actually prevent you from developing TMJ, which is a much more complicated oral health problem to treat.
3. Fix a small problem before it gets worse.
It is quite normal to develop small chips or cracks over time. Little areas where a tooth seems pitted or bulging a little can relate to normal wear and tear on enamel or minimal past trauma.
But these small issues can weaken the integrity of the enamel. If left unaddressed, these little crevices or pits can accumulate tartar and plaque and lead to decay.
What Are The Risks Of Trying This At Home?
As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, viral social media posts have led to an uptick in what can only be called “do-it-yourself teeth contouring.”
This is never a good idea. Consider that odontoplasty or enameloplasty are oral medical procedures just like any other and come with the same risks and dangers.
Dentists receive extensive training about the structure of teeth that is required to do a teeth recontouring procedure that achieves your desired results and causes you no harm.
Just as you wouldn’t attempt to do your own tooth filling or dental implant, you shouldn’t try to do your own odontoplasty.
Risks include each of the following and more:
- – Permanent disfigurement of your smile.
- – Permanent bite problems that can lead to TMJ, cavities, root decay and other more serious dental health issues.
- – Irreversible destruction of the enamel.
- – The enamel may break off altogether, leaving the tooth exposed.
- – Lasting tooth sensitivity or pain.
- – Tooth cracks or breakage can occur, leading to costly dental surgery.
How Much Does Teeth Contouring Cost?
Teeth contouring costs vary depending on each patient’s situation and needs.
As Everyday Health explains, simple teeth contouring may only cost $50 out of pocket.
More difficult or extensive recontouring procedures may cost up to $300.
As you can see, it is potentially be much more expensive to fix a do-it-yourself tooth filing gone wrong than it is to simply have your dentist do it for you the first time.
While insurance typically does not cover the cost of tooth contouring for purely cosmetic (appearance) purposes, your insurer may cover part or all of a tooth contouring procedure if it is being done for medical reasons.
Examples can include tooth injury due to an accident or illness or odontoplasty following an oral health surgery.
It is only normal and natural to want to be proud of your smile and look your best. Statistically speaking, people who smile more enjoy more of the best of life, from promotion opportunities at work to more interest from potential romantic partners.
But if you attempt to file or shave down your own teeth and something goes wrong, you are facing an uphill battle in every way to achieve the smile you want.
Rather than put yourself in the position to have to fix a do-it-yourself tooth filing gone wrong, it is smart to talk with your dentist about your appearance concerns.
Chances are good that you will find your options for an improved smile are fast, painless and affordable. Best of all, you can be sure your tooth contouring will be done right the first time and will last forever.