When dental offices across the country shut down at the onset of the pandemic, some people turned to do-it-yourself dentistry, with often disastrous results. Decayed or misaligned teeth, broken enamel, and exposed roots are just some examples of self-inflicted damage that Uppasna Chand reports of patients who are showing up at her office after almost three years without visiting a dentist.
“You can buy just about anything on the internet,” says Chand, who practices at Smile Reston Heights and McLean Family Dentistry. “There is no regulation, and many of these DIY dental products have never been studied and are produced by companies that could disappear tomorrow.”
Patients have been lured by social media advertisements selling everything from dental picks and impression kits to full-mouth braces or dentures. “People send their self-made impressions to a lab, but the materials or trays they receive back are not being overseen by a professional,” says Chand. “These products can cause irreversible damage.”
Contamination is another reason to avoid DIY devices. “Dentists use an autoclave to sterilize their tools, but you can’t do that at home,” notes Chand.
The worst DIY dental situation Chand has encountered was a crown cemented with a superglue-type of adhesive. “Chemicals in the glue damaged the crown, which was then permanently locked in the wrong position.” Chand acknowledges that people resorted to such desperate measures because of the shutdowns.
“I was worried about people with dental emergencies who couldn’t be seen during the pandemic,” says Chand. She took video calls from people all over the country and connected them with dentists near their homes who were open for emergency treatment. “Because there really is no substitute for professional care,” she stresses.