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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Dentists warn about disturbing TikTok trend: teens filing down their teeth with a nail file

Dentists say filing down your teeth on your own removes the enamel, which helps protect our teeth from damage.

INDIANAPOLIS — On TikTok, just search "teeth filing" and in seconds, video after video shows the cringeworthy results. 

It’s the latest trend on social media: young people, unhappy with the way their teeth look, are taking a nail file to fix their smile themselves.

"It's scary," said Dr. LaQuia Vinson, an Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at Indiana University Health. "Because you’re doing irreversible damage to your teeth."

IU Health reached out to 13News to get the word out to parents.

"The first thing I thought about (after seeing the posts) was that they're using a file! That's not a clean object," Vinson said.

It can also be painful.

"You can go from mild sensitivity to major pain in a very a short amount of time. Especially depending on how deep they’re starting to file," she said.

Dentists say filing down your teeth on your own removes the enamel, which helps protect our teeth from damage.

"Let me just tell you, if you don't have a strong background in the principles of occlusion and hydrodynamic theory, you shouldn't be doing this," said Dr. Kishen Godhia, a dentist in California, who made his own video on TikTok to try and reach young people through social media.

Dr. Vinson hopes they listen.

"If someone's unhappy with their smile, there's lots of very safe things and ways we can do to change that," she said. "Using a file at home in your bedroom or in the bathroom is not the way to go."