Do-It-Yourself Dentistry

January 09, 2013

Growing up, I was taught: “Why have someone else do something for you, when you can do it yourself?” One day as I was browsing a favorite DIY site, it struck me to see if there was anything dentistry-related. I was curious, but I didn’t expect to find anything. I was quickly proven wrong when I found some instructions for – you guessed it – DIY dentistry. Some people never learned another valuable lesson: “Sometimes things are best left to the professionals.”

Some people would rather let their teeth fall out than dare to darken the doorstep of our offices, but I never suspected that people might attempt anything beyond a simple ballistic extraction. In the DIY dentistry tutorial, the author gets a lot of things right, but he gets others terribly, terribly wrong:

“Most vital tool in dental repair business is air blower… [a] big fish tank compressor will work fine… Blunted hypodermic needle will make fine nozzle.”
“To do job properly you need to prepare tooth surface somehow, cheap dremel is OK for that… Simple sharp rod will do the cleaning job because decayed bone is very weak and easy to scrap. But only diamond burs can defeat enamel without shaking your head too much.”
After reading the comments, in which a dentist gets lambasted for offering a few cautionary words, I wondered about the prevalence of DIY dentistry. Delving into the dark corners of the Internet to find an answer, I came back with a couple YouTube videos of “Bad Bob” doing an epoxy filling, a handful of forum posts, and no hard numbers on the prevalence of DIY dentistry in the United States.

Bad Bob Dentistry – Do not try this at home
Part 1

Part 2

However, I did find that the UK’s Which? magazine conducted an online poll in 2009 which found that 8% of the population had attempted dentistry at home.

It’s clear that we still have a long way to go in breaking down barriers to treatment and educating the public about the importance of proper oral hygiene. Though, in the meantime, it looks like a scientific study on the prevalence of DIY dentistry might get someone published in JADA!

By: Matthew Graham

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