Dentists Are Concerned Social Media Trends Could Cause Damage To Your Smile

A smile is often your first introduction to someone else. Many of us care about the look of our grins because we find smiles so attractive. Our obsession with a beaming grin isn't all vanity, though. Psychology and self-esteem are involved with the look of our teeth. A bright smile allows us "to connect with other people," Yale University psychologist Marianne LaFrance said (via Wired). No matter how hard we try, we sometimes judge others and ourselves based on appearances, including smiles. Looking in the mirror, you are probably the most critical person about your own toothy grin. "Our smile is an extension of our personality," Dr. Stephanie Dumanian, a dentist at Park Lex 60 Dental, told Refinery29. "It gives us self-esteem and confidence."

Social media may make us more self-conscious about smiles, too. In fact, dentists have noticed that social media sites like Instagram are leading to everyday patients requesting procedures once reserved for ultra-rich celebrities. "It's mind-blowing how much influence social media has on people," Anabella Oquendo Parilli, a dentist and assistant dean for international probrams at New York University, said (per the Atlantic). One specific procedure has gained popularity on social media over the last few years, and dentists are worried that this irreversible procedure could ruin your smile.

More and more people are getting veneers because of social media

Dentists have noticed that more patients are asking for veneers: porcelain or resin material that are placed in front of the visible part of one's teeth (via Aspen Dental). Veneers are not something you would encounter in your average dental cleaning. These expensive coverings cost at least $1,000 per tooth, according to the Atlantic, with more renowned dentists charging up to $4,000 a tooth. With the expense of this procedure in mind, why are so many people changing their smiles?

It seems that social media has played a role in the rise of veneers. Social media influencers live somewhere in between traditional celebrity and the everyday person since they need to be relatable while posting selfies and sponsored-content on their pages. Influencers have turned to veneers to get the perfect teeth. "Having a perfect white smile and shiny teeth is like the equivalent of having the latest designer bags these days," said Casey Joe, a New Jersey-based beauty influencer (per Buzzfeed News). While veneers are expensive, some influencers see that the investment in their smile is worth it. "There had been times that I would do really major campaigns, and a lot of the comments would be about my teeth, like, insults and things like that. So it did make me uncomfortable and really self-conscious," Joe said. But some dentists are concerned with the health of the teeth beneath these veneers.

The cons of getting veneers

There are lots of important things to know before you get veneers. Veneers are not your average dental procedure. You can't change your mind after getting these porcelain coverings. "[V]eneers are irreversible, costly, and need to be replaced after 15-20 years," dentist Ramin Tabb told Everyday Health. While veneers are expensive and permanent, that doesn't mean they are full-proof when it comes to damage.

That's what happened to TikTokker Chelsea Smith, who shared her veneer story online. "My veneer popped off my tooth," she said. "I kid you not, I've had a veneer pop off even when I'm brushing my teeth." Her less-than-ideal experience with veneers has her questioning whether she made the right call. "If I knew now what I know about veneers I don't think I would have gotten them," Smith wrote in the caption of her TikTok.

Because veneers go in front of your teeth, they are a semi-protective layer. But that does not mean that you are guaranteed a cavity-free life. If you fail to floss and brush your teeth well, it is still possible to get cavities underneath your veneers, according to Mona Vale Dental. And if your dentist does not adequately place your veneers on your teeth, bacteria can run rampant. "Please visit a reliable dentist who has plenty of experience installing veneers," Mona Vale Dental wrote on their site. However, finding the right dentist may be more difficult with the rise of "mouth shops."

For cheaper veneers, some are going to mouth shops — but dentists are sounding the alarm

The rise of popularity in veneers has made some look for cheaper options. However, the high price of veneers installed by a qualified dentist ensures that your smile won't be permanently damaged. The same can't be said of "mouth shops," said New York cosmetic dentist Dr. Marc Lowenberg, according to Refinery29. These cheap alternatives to classic veneer procedures are usually outside the United States. However, the speed at which these procedures from abroad are done concerns dentists. "Speed should also not be a factor in dental care, but when you're having treatment in a limited time frame abroad, it becomes a key element," Dr. Alastair McGill said.

That rushed timeframe can be disastrous and lead to months of complications. When a Belfast woman went to Turkey for some affordable veneers, she had no idea the damage that would ensue. "You are sold the dream and you are delivered a nightmare," Amanda Turner told ITV. Turner complained about her procedure, citing that it was not what she expected nor what she asked for. In response, Turner claimed she was cast onto the street with her hotel room canceled by the dental office. Things did not get better when she returned to Belfast, where she needed antibiotics for an infection in her mouth and fluid drained from her face. Credible dentists warn that seeking cheap veneers could cost you in health problems later on.