The Dangers of DIY Dentistry

dental-health-2A recent article in UK papers suggested that there has been an increase in DIY dentistry. But what exactly is DIY dentistry, why is it dangerous and is it ever a good idea to attempt your own dental repairs?

What exactly is DIY dentistry?

DIY dentistry is a term used to describe dental treatment you attempt to do yourself as an alternative to seeing a professional dentist. You can buy DIY dental kits that are generally designed for urgent situations, but many people use household items. Examples of DIY dentistry projects include attempting to repair crowns and fillings, home tooth whitening (using bleach) and extraction.

Why is DIY dentistry dangerous?

DIY dentistry is often considered a quick-fix for dental problems and there are usually risks involved. In most cases there is a good reason why you need to see a dentist when you have dental issues, and trying to treat yourself is likely to end up in disaster. There are extreme examples, such as patients buying products to straighten or bleach their own teeth and extracting their own teeth at home. In the vast majority of cases, patients end up going to a dentist anyway. Often, cost is the reason cited for the rise in DIY dentistry, but a botched DIY job is usually much more expensive to remedy than the original cost of a more basic procedure.

When you attempt dentistry at home, there are risks to be wary of, including:

  • excessive bleeding
  • infection
  • further damage to the teeth and gums
  • severe pain
  • adverse reaction to treatment

Home straightening gadgets can result in very sore and painful gums, while bleaching products, often bought online, can contribute to burns and erosion of the tooth enamel. Extraction can cause severe pain and there is a risk of infection following the procedure, as the socket is exposed. Patients may also find that they struggle to cope with pain following treatment as the socket will not have been numbed using local anaesthetic beforehand.

In a Liverpool dental surgery, patients are treated in safe, sterile surroundings by trained professionals who have the experience not only to carry out the procedure effectively, but also to act in the event of any complications.

dentalIs it ever a good idea to attempt DIY dentistry?

The advice from dentists is to seek advice from a trained dentist if you need urgent or non-urgent dental treatment, you are suffering from dental pain or you have cosmetic dental issues you would like to address. In some cases (e.g. where you’re out hiking and have a broken tooth, need an urgent fix and can’t get to the dentist) dental DIY kits may be used, but they should only serve as a temporary measure.

Routine dental treatment is subsidised in the UK and NHS treatment is available free of charge for many people on low incomes and those who receive certain benefits. If you have difficulties affording dental treatment, it may be worth contacting your local authority to see if you are liable for help with costs.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, DR Nigel Carter OBE, describes DIY dentistry as unnecessary and dangerous and warned against potential problems such as broken teeth, exposure to a high risk of infection and pulling the wrong tooth out.


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