Dentists warning against TikTok trend that has people grinding down teeth with nail fail

Many TikTok users are flocking to this new trend that involves filing down teeth using an emery board. 

File this under dangerous.

Thought using bleach to whiten teeth was harebrained? Amateur TikTok cosmeticians are now remodeling their crooked chompers with nail files in a viral trend that dentists are dubbing damaging and dumb.

“You’re doing irreparable damage and destruction to your teeth,” Dr. Chad Evans, co-founder of Texas-based Smile Magic Family Dental, told Insider. The father of two said he first became aware of the molar makeovers after colleagues showed him clips blowing up on TikTok.


For the uninitiated, the vids depict various bozos attempting to fix their uneven smiles by using a nail file to sand their teeth down to size. It’s basically the bargain-bin equivalent of an enameloplasty — a reshaping procedure involving enamel removal that one would receive from a cosmetic dentist.

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However, unlike professionals who know how to file your pearly whites safely, an amateur could potentially remove vital coating, causing the tooth to become hypersensitive or even die.

Evans recalled one video in which a woman with a chipped tooth filed down her two front teeth to match her imperfect tooth’s length.

“Essentially, what she’s doing is she’s shortening the lifespan of her teeth,” he said. “They are now compromised, and it’s just a matter of time before she starts developing serious issues.”

Dentists have even taken to social media to counteract the hazardous fad before it strikes a nerve.

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“You need to know specifics before you can do stuff like this,” says orthodontist Benjamin Winters in an Instagram clip reacting to a DIY dental procedure. “You can’t do this by yourself.” The mortified medical practitioner — who goes by “TheBentist” online — advised that people leave the operation to an expert who knows “exactly how much enamel to take off to be healthy for the teeth.”

Unfortunately, getting your teeth filed — even professionally — often doesn’t get to the root of the problem. In another reaction video, Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin  urges all patients to figure out why their grub grinders are uneven in the first place.

“OK, you file them, and they look pretty good, but you didn’t solve the original problem,” he says. “So what are you going to do in a few years when they’re uneven again and your teeth are shorter?”

Freelance filing isn’t the only DIY operation that doesn’t have teeth. In April, some home-dentistry practitioners resorted to extracting their own chompers as practices remained closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

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