Thanks to the internet, there’s no shortage of information when it comes to finding DIY and at-home remedies to treat dental problems. But how can you know whether or not these methods are effective — or safe?
Safe Dental Home Remedies
If the advice you took was provided by a trusted dental professional, you’re starting on the right track. Straightforward home remedies are usually the first place to turn to when it comes to reducing dental discomfort, swollen gums, tooth sensitivity, etc.
But if the advice comes from somewhere else than your dentist, like a beauty blogger or unknown Pinterest source, it’s best to play it safe and ask a dental expert first.
That being said, here are a few basic “dental hacks” that are ok to use when you’re in a pinch:
- If your crown fell off and you can’t get to the dentist until the next day, create a seal with a small smear of toothpaste or dental cement purchased at the drugstore and put it back in place.
- For sore gums or mild swelling, rinse with warm salt water.
- “Miracle mouthwash” can be made with a mixture of Benadryl and Maalox to reduce pain caused by sore spots or ulcers.
- Did you break a tooth or have a filling fall out? Use sugar free gum or dental cement to temporarily patch the hole.
- Use an ice pack against the side of your mouth to numb any soreness or reduce swelling.
Homemade Teeth Whitening Treatments
One of the most popular home dental treatments that people talk about is teeth whitening. Most of the time, it involves using something acidic (such as lemons or strawberries) and abrasive (baking soda or charcoal) and rubbing their teeth with it. Others incorporate DIY solutions that involve hydrogen peroxide.
Unfortunately, all of the above-mentioned tactics can cause serious side effects. From physically eroded and yellower tooth enamel to scary cases of “black hairy tongue,” it’s best to not try to physically force stains out of your teeth without the help of a dentist. Doing so could leave you with thousands in dental costs and a very unsightly smile.
Gum Disease Remedies
Gum disease starts with mild cases of gingivitis and can progress all the way to the point of advanced periodontitis. By the time severe disease has set in, tooth mobility and loss are a major concern.
Fortunately, mild to moderate gum inflammation can be completely reversed at home with the help of good oral hygiene (including daily flossing as well as brushing along the gumlines).
Some people also find that supplementing with things like fish oil capsules, CoQ10, and adding essential oils to their brushing routine to be quite effective. All of these are safe and holistic options to try!
However, it is not advised to attempt to clean tartar away on your own with mechanical tools. Dental scalers can often be found online or in the drugstore; some of which closely resemble the tools used by a dental hygienist. What most people don’t realize though, is that using one of these scalers in appropriately can cause their gum disease to worsen due to damaging the way gingiva tissue attaches to the teeth. Additionally, some of the largest deposits of tartar may only be visible with dental X-rays, as they are located deep under the gums and attached to the surfaces of the tooth roots.
Store Bought Filling Kits
The latest craze in DIY dentistry is home dental filling kits. Essentially, it’s a temporary dental cement that is packed into the hole of a tooth. The putty is placed inside and gradually hardens, not as hard as a filling where you can keep biting and chewing on the tooth, but hard enough that it keeps food debris from getting caught in the area.
A temporary filling is fine if you’re out of town for the weekend or trying to get back to see your dentist after being on vacation.
What they don’t tell you though, is that keeping a temporary patch in your tooth will just block the cavity-causing germs inside, allowing the infection to grow larger and deeper into the tooth’s structure. Before you realize it, that cavity becomes an abscessed tooth. Now you need to see a dentist not for a filling, but for a root canal and a crown. DIY fillings are not meant to be permanent; you shouldn’t use them for more for a few days.
Beware the Dangers of DIY Dentistry
Treating your dental problems at home may seem like the natural way to do things, but if infections deep within teeth or under the gums go without professional care, it could wind up costing you your smile … and your health.
If you’re looking to fix a permanent problem or use a long-term solution to address a dental condition on your own, it’s best to resist the temptation to treat it yourself. When permanent enamel damage or erosion becomes a concern, you’ll wind up wishing you had seen a professional to fix it in the first place.
When Things Go From Bad to Worse
Perhaps you’ve already tried home dental treatments and are starting to notice the conditions getting worse. Or, you’re in pain because the infection is trapped inside your tooth.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, DIY dentistry doesn’t save you money. It can actually cost you a lot more. Getting a small filling is much more affordable than having to see an endodontic specialist months later because of a complex root canal.
If you’re trying to treat your own dental problems because you don’t have insurance, you may want to consider an affordable alternative such as a discount dental plan. Some of the savings programs available (like the ones at Aetna Dental Offers) include savings of 15-50% on treatments offered by dentists and dental specialists (including root canals.) Contact a discount dental expert today to find out how to enroll.