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To DIY or not DIY, that is the question:

All of us have found something broken in or around the house and decided we would try our hand at fixing it. For people like my father-in-law, a real handy man, many of these “Do It Yourself” jobs are resolved to a satisfactory conclusion. (Most of the time my mother-in-law even agrees) For others, a little bit of selectivity goes a long way in keeping one’s home from looking like its being maintained by 8 year olds. Unfortunately for my wife, she grew up with a handy man but married a pretty un-handy man. I’m willing to test the limits of my skills but when my only ideas for a “fix” conjure mental images like the one below, I refer to the professionals.

Don’t get me wrong, in terms of ingenuity, this guy or gal gets an A. I’m even willing to concede that he or she probably deserves at least a B+ on execution. However, with regard to long-term success and professional appearance…need I say more?

Sometimes these DIY jobs don’t involve fixing something; rather they are an attempt to produce something found on the internet. These jobs can range from spectacular birthday cakes to crafty Halloween decorations. As with anything in life, each of us have certain skills and some of those skills (or lack thereof) should not be deployed in the creative arts. The person below had a good eye for a look that is cool and off-beat, however, execution and esthetics take a back seat. As a matter of fact, execution and esthetics are in the trunk underneath a box of old newspapers and a broken tennis racket.

What is it about DIY projects that are so appealing? On the one hand, it is immensely satisfying to fix something with your own two hands. When my sister began making spectacular cakes for family events, we were all the beneficiaries of a new-found hobby. Many times, money saved and the hassle of waiting for a “repairman” can drive even people like me to try spackling a hole in the wall (as long as my father-in-law is available via Skype).

However, even DIY “specialists” will agree that some projects should be left to the professionals. One of those areas is medical/dental. My first exposure to DIY healthcare came when watching a television program about crazy ER cases focusing on a construction worker who decided to cast his own broken foot with a homemade cement boot. Let’s just say that pealing cement off of human flesh looked like it was a good time. My immediate reaction was that this was a farce and that no one in their right mind would attempt something of this nature…I was wrong.

A disturbing new internet trend has been growing in the world of DIY medical and dental procedures. In the midst of the treasure-trove of information that can be found on the internet are nuggets of spurious claims and terrible advice. Of course not every canker sore needs immediate professional attention, but any attempt to permanently cement or remove something from your mouth should always be performed by a dentist. The art and science of mixing man-made products with a biological environment has taken centuries to develop and we are still striving to perfect it. No matter how much that Dremel tool looks like a dental instrument, I implore you to never put it in your mouth.

There are products that can be picked up at the drugstore for short-term fixes and relief that can be used safely when the instructions are properly followed. That’s actually a pretty good test whether or not you have crossed the line of appropriate DIY dentistry. If you are picking something up from Home Depot rather than Walgreens for your mouth, put it down…now!! If you see a dentist regularly, he or she is happy to field a phone call to help with advice or reassurance, even if the problem is small. Many times we will have you swing by the office just to make sure everything is okay. Remember, any time you have uncontrolled pain, swelling or bleeding, it is an emergency and should be dealt with appropriately. If bleeding or swelling causes difficulty breathing, you should call 9-1-1.

As long as there are things to break, there will be men and women up to the challenge to make a further mess of them. Whether it is broken faucets or broken teeth, remember, that the consequences of mistakes are infinitely greater when dealing with your health. Keep fixing those household projects, but leave your health to the pros. My guess is that even DIY guru MacGyver never fixed his own teeth.

There you have it!!

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