Ask the TikTok generation pretty much any question and you can rest assured you’ll get an answer. Not just an answer, but a whole flurry of ‘life hacks’ that are supposedly life-changing.
The power and influence of social media is no less than remarkable. Each and every day, another health trend goes viral, with supposedly transformative effects. The problem is that the vast majority of these tips and tricks don’t come from qualified professionals.
Far from it – they’re usually made up by random bloggers and influencers, who do not have a day’s formal training or education in their lives.
Not that this matters, as the influence they have is all they need to go viral. Before you know it, tens of millions of people are following a new health trend, which could be completely counterproductive.
The oral health and hygiene arena is by no means excluded from the madness. Ask any dentist and they’ll tell you that all you need to keep your teeth and gums in fantastic condition for life are three things. A professional-quality electric toothbrush, a high-quality water-flosser, and a sensible diet.
Coupled with occasional trips to the dentist for inspection, that’s really where the buck stops.
What they’ll also tell you is that when it comes to social media health trends, the vast majority should be avoided at all costs. To put the whole thing into some kind of perspective, here are just three ultra-popular health trends that started on social media, which in all instances can take a real toll on your oral health:
Apple Cider Vinegar as Mouthwash
For generations, apple cider vinegar has been cited as a miraculous substance for all-natural healthcare. From boosting the immune system to speeding up the metabolism to enhancing the skin’s youthful glow, there’s very little this stuff supposedly cannot do. As usual, much of the evidence supporting all of this is anecdotal in nature, but there’s good reason to believe that apple cider vinegar is indeed good for you.
However, apple cider vinegar as a form of all-natural mouthwash raises eyebrows in dental circles. On one hand, you could say that yes – apple cider vinegar (with its pH level of 3.075) is more than acidic enough to get to work on germs and bacteria. In addition, the fact that it contains plenty of helpful enzymes itself works in its favour.
But the simple fact of the matter is that when you expose your teeth to such an acidic substance, it can cause serious damage to the enamel on the surface. Even if you rinse your mouth out with water afterwards, this will not prevent the damage from being done. Dentists, therefore, recommend sticking with a high-quality mouthwash – something that’s been tried, tested, and proven to be safe.
Apple cider vinegar may be all-natural, but this does not mean it is kind to your teeth.
Brushing with Charcoal
Out of nowhere, charcoal suddenly became the product of the moment for improved oral health and hygiene. Activated charcoal – a black mixture derived from the standard black stuff – continues to be renowned for a long list of supposed health benefits. One of which is its ability to whiten teeth, while at the same time getting to grips with bacteria, toxins, and general nasties.
This is attributed to the enormous surface area of the particles in activated charcoal, and the slightly abrasive nature of the material. Even though it makes your entire mouth black as night while brushing, the resulting effects are said to be superb.
Sadly, you will seldom (if ever) find a reputable dentist who is willing to recommend activated charcoal. For one thing, there is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever to support any of these claims. Secondly, the fact that activated charcoal is abrasive means that using it could accelerate enamel deterioration and tooth decay.
Contrary to all the misleading marketing messages in the world, switching to an activated charcoal toothpaste and mouthwash cannot and will not whiten your teeth. Products like these may have some effect on rudimentary surface stains, but will not make a noticeable difference. That is, aside from the damage they could be doing to the enamel on your teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Last up, dentists, dieticians, and doctors alike recommend against juice cleansers. This is the quintessential example of a fad dietary trend, which has no grounding in science or logic whatsoever.
The theory behind juice cleansing is that you consume nothing but juice for a certain period of time, in order to “detox” your body for a few days, and give yourself time to set your sights on better eating habits. In reality, healthcare professionals have found that juice cleanses can trigger radical spikes in insulin levels, wreak havoc with the metabolism, and influence the way collagen is produced and retained.
Meanwhile, drinking nothing but highly-acidic juices packed with natural sugars for several days will do your teeth and gums no good. Even if you drink through a straw (as some believe is the answer), you will still be exposing your teeth and gums to harm.
The key to good health and wellbeing for life lies in dietary balance – it really is as simple as that. No exclusions, no fad diets, no detoxes – nothing that is not recommended to you by a trusted and reputable doctor.
As a general rule of thumb, if it is advice that originates from social media, it is advised to take it with a pinch of salt. If nothing else, at least run your plans by your doctor or dentist, before making any major lifestyle adjustments.
Chances are, they’ll tell you to avoid the latest fads at all costs.