The TikTok ‘Teeth File’ Trend Has Parents (And Dentists) Horrified


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I have three teenagers in my house and it’s no exaggeration when I tell you TikTok is their Bible. I’ve told them to stop believing everything they see and hear on that damn app, but it’s a daily struggle.

It seems to be the latest way for them to get their dose of social media, and they now believe Facebook and Instagram are for old people. Like me. So, now I have another job to do as the mother of teens: stay afloat on all the trends, even though it’s breaking me one video at a time.

The thing is, there’s a lot of bullshit floating around and teenagers of the world are eager to want to try whatever they see on TikTok. I mean, I’ve tried a few things with them — the fun and harmless stuff, like rolling pickles in hot Cheetos — but I make sure I monitor the things and challenges they are trying really closely.

Apparently the latest craze involves getting your DIY-degree in orthodontia by simply taking a nail file and filing your teeth down to saw your teeth to a desirable height.

People of the world are looking for a cheap and easy way to perform their own enameloplasty, because of course they are.

The word on the street is that folks got tired of waiting for a better smile when all the orthodontist and dentist offices were closed during COVID-19, so someone decided to teach a class in ruining your teeth by shaping them yourself using a nail file.

Um, no.

I can’t believe this even needs to be said, but nail files are for nails; they don’t belong in, or around, your mouth. Your teeth are not like your nails in that they don’t keep growing, are much more sensitive, and can be permanently damaged — unlike when you file the tips of your claws.

It’s one thing to start dyeing your own hair, plucking your own eyebrows, and asking your bestie to trim your split ends. But doing your own damn cosmetic dental work is taking it too far.

If you don’t want to take my word for it (my teenage daughter certainly didn’t), Scary Mommy spoke via email with Dr. Kami Hoss, D.D.S., M.S., who is the co-founder & CEO of The Super Dentists, a leading multi-specialty dental practice in the U.S. and one of the largest dental groups in Southern California, which sees 20% of the youth in San Diego County. He told us this procedure can cause a lot of harm — and cost a lot of money.

If you file your teeth down, they will never grow back,” says Hoss. The truth is, people are just taking a file and going for it without knowing what the hell they are doing. Once the tooth is gone, that’s it. They aren’t going to grow again like the time you gave yourself a really bad brow job, or sliced your bangs off to your hairline.

Our kids need to realize how dangerous this can be, regardless of the pictures and “success stories” they are seeing on TikTok. You think your kids can be left alone in the bathroom or their room for long periods of time when they get older but word to the wise: check in on them every now and again to make sure they are doing things like, I don’t know, erasing their teeth.

@gustexoxWATCH THIS IF YOU HAVE EVER THOUGHT ABOUT FILING YOUR TEETH!♬ original sound – gee

Hoss explains this is harmful for many reasons. Not to state the (should-be) obvious, but it damages the tooth. “We all get one set of adult teeth and we need to make sure they last us for the rest of our lives,” he says. 

Your enamel is sensitive and “is a thin layer that protects your teeth from the harsh, acidic environment of your mouth. Once you remove it, it’ll never grow back. If that happens you may get sensitivity or pain, increase your risk of cavities, damage the nerve, and remove luster and white color from your teeth,” says Hoss.

This sounds like the opposite of what people are trying to do. Instead of walking away with beautiful, straight teeth, they are stripping their mouth of the very things it needs to be healthy.

Not to mention that filing your teeth is not the answer if you are trying to straighten them. Hoss says this needs to be done by an experienced orthodontist because, “When teeth don’t line up, it typically means one tooth is erupted longer or is more crooked/angled compared to the next one,” he explains.

 If you just file down one tooth, or the teeth that are bothering you, your teeth will never look good since gum levels won’t line up, and the edges will be crooked or shorter. You may even do so much damage even an orthodontist may not be able to ever fix it.

Our kids taking things like this into their own hands is scary for their health … and our bank accounts. 

Dentists or orthodontists that perform enameloplasty, or are straightening your teeth with braces or lines, are educated and trained professionals who have been doing it for years. They have the right tools and equipment — and I promise, none of it involves nail files!  

Stick to the basics when it comes to your teeth: brush them, floss them, swish some mouthwash. But please, folks, keep the nail files out of your damn mouth and I beg you, send this to your teenagers and tell them what damage they could actually do if they try and file their own damn teeth. 

There are lots of entertaining and amusing things on TikTok, but this is one trend that’s nothing to smile about.

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