The quest for whiter teeth has ended in chemical burns and enamel erosion for many Illawarra residents.
That's why Dapto dentist Dr Mohit Tolani is urging residents to speak to their dentist prior to using any DIY teeth whitening kits - especially if they come from overseas.
The same goes for charcoal toothpaste - a product which claims to result in whiter teeth but Dr Tolani said there's no long-term evidence to prove this.
"DIY whitening kits and charcoal toothpaste are often advertised on social media, and endorsed by celebrities, but they can do more harm than good," he said.
"The chemicals used in whitening kits can cause burns on the gums and can erode enamel on teeth, leading to them becoming highly sensitive.
"Overseas products may be even riskier, as they may not have to adhere to the strict regulations for Australian products.
"Charcoal toothpaste can also be an issue as it may not contain the recommended fluoride in it, and there's been no long-term studies proving its effectiveness."
Dr Tolani, a member of Australian Dental Association NSW, said other trends - such as oral piercings - could also harm the teeth and gums.
During Dental Health Week, he's also urging people to limit their intake of popular sugary drinks like energy drinks and kombucha.
"We can't ask people to stop drinking or eating anything sugary," Dr Tolani said. "But we can urge people to try and limit their intake of sugar and to brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily and visit their dentist regularly."
Meanwhile HealthStats NSW figures show the hospitalisation rates for dental health conditions is rising in the region - and well above the state average.
In the 2002 financial year, there were 920 hospitalisations in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local health District due to dental conditions - in the 2018 financial year that had risen to 1359.
"Dental health is the gateway to general health," Dr Tolani said. "We know there's strong health links between what's going on in the mouth, and the health of the rest of your body.
"Early intervention is key. We don't want to be pulling people's teeth out - and we're seeing children as young as two needing teeth extracted.
"It's important we increase dental literacy so people are aware of how to maintain their teeth, and their children's. And we need to work hard to ensure people are not fearful, or embarrassed about, visiting their dentist."