DIY: Dental Surgery?

DIY word composed of work and construction tools on a wooden surface top view, hobby and craft concept


Pinterest and YouTube have sparked a DIY movement across the globe. You can find projects from homemade decor to DIY “unicorn poop slime” on Pinterest. But how far will we take our “do it yourself” attitudes? According to a study in the UK, “38% of UK adults have carried out DIY dentistry” “How” and “why” are questions we all wanted answers to.


DIY Tooth Extraction

TLC’s show “Extreme Cheapskates” featured Grant Hearn performing a tooth extraction procedure in his living room recliner. In an effort to save $175, Hearn created a DIY surgical suction with a straw, sterilized an old pair of extraction forceps, and pulled his wife’s tooth from the “comfort” of their own home. In preparation, Hearn watched Youtube videos to learn methods of tooth extraction. His resourcefulness is certainly intriguing, but the risks of performing a procedure with a homemade scalpel and suction are tremendous. “If you perform DIY extraction using pliers or other contraptions from your tool kit you may unwittingly leave a fragment of tooth behind, increasing the risk of an abscess or infection.”


Desperate woman with toothache going to use pliers to extract her tooth


Other DIY Procedures

The Hearns are not the only people who have dabbled in DIY dentistry. There are countless stories of teens fashioning homemade braces with rubberbands, 3D printing DIY Invisalign molds, and homegrown tooth extractions. Among these amaeture dentists are The Truther Girls. In a Youtube video titled “Dentists Hate This Video!” a woman takes a cavity into her own hands. As the video progresses, she shares how she uses colloidal silver to kill bacteria, eats a calcium-rich diet, and takes supplements to remineralize her teeth. Seems pretty comprehensive, right? Dr. Kim Harms, a dentist and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, declared that there is no clinical evidence backing the health benefits of this homegrown regime. Yet, she does say there is evidence for dangerous side-effects. Poor absorption of antibiotics and thyroid medication and a permanent, bluish discoloration of skin called argyria can stem from this treatment. Unless she gets to the bottom of the decay, The Truther Girl cannot solve her problem. The bacteria causing her cavity will stick around until a professional completely removes them. Dental professionals use air abrasion and specialized tools to remove all the bacteria that invaded a tooth.


close up of teeth and a cavity


Why DIY Dentistry?

According to the same UK study mentioned earlier, a quarter of the adults who attempted at home dental care attributed the high cost of seeing a dentist as their motivator to DIY.  Other reasons included: a lack of dental insurance, a fear of dentists, or thinking you don’t need a dentist’s help. 18-24 year-olds are more likely to DIY due to not feeling the need for a dentist. But people who are more likely to DIY out to fear of the dentist are ages 45-54. There are a variety of motivations for DIY dentistry, but at the core of them all, it is a bad idea. You can avoid invasive dental work by brushing, rinsing, and flossing, but regular checkups are also essential to prevent widespread oral complications.


Say No to DIY Oral Care

At-home dental work begs for massive infections. Many dental issues relate to bacteria in the mouth. When you attempt to remove bacteria, but leave some behind, you allow it to multiply and further complicate the original problem. DIY dentistry may seem cost effective at the start, but the dental bills that accumulate if something goes wrong will far outweigh the cost of the original procedure. Additionally, practicing dentistry when you are not a qualified dentist is against the law. This means DIY surgeries and extractions are illegal. No one wants to help a friend superglue a cavity and end up in jail!


DIY projects are fun and creative, but there are some things you should leave to the professionals. Youtube cannot teach you the proper way to make braces, nor can it tell you the proper method to clear a bacterial infection. For care that exceeds brushing, flossing, rinsing, and baby tooth extractions, call your dentist and schedule an appointment!