Welcome to TikTok Debunked, a new series where Yahoo Canada digs into the truth behind popular TikTok health, beauty and food trends.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Over the last little while, some TikTokers have been whitening their teeth with magic erasers (yes, the ones used to remove grime and stains from your stove and tub) and posting their results.
While this DIY technique appears to deliver incredible results, health professionals are urging people to not believe everything you see online.
So, are magic erasers a safe and effective way to whiten your teeth? We asked an expert to give us their honest take on this TikTok trend.
The claim — and how it started
The trend started a few years ago and has gained traction ever since.
It all began when TikTok user @theheatherdunn went viral for showing off her vibrant smile. She revealed that she used a magic eraser to scrub the surface of her teeth, which left them white and bright.
To partake in this trend, TikTokers say you should break off and wet a tiny piece of magic eraser and scrub your teeth until stains and yellowness disappear. Dunn claimed this was her secret to keeping her teeth white and glossy.
Although Dunn's original video has since been deleted, the hashtag "#magiceraserteeth" has accumulated 6.1 million views on TikTok. Thousands of users tried it out and posted about their experience. Many people were thrilled with the results as their teeth magically turned white and shiny.
However, Dr. Benjamin Winters, a dentist who goes by @thebentist on TikTok, went viral for blowing the claim out of the water. He explained that melamine foam is one of the main ingredients in magic erasers, which turns "hard as glass and acts like a really abrasive sandpaper."
Winters added that "your teeth are white because you scrubbed all the enamel off them." In the comments of Winters's video, fans either agreed with him, or said that they'd rather not have enamel if it meant that they would have white teeth.
An expert weighs in
"Using magic erasers on teeth is a very bad idea. The material is very abrasive and scrubs off the enamel or the outer layer of the tooth," he said in an interview with Yahoo Canada. "Once you scrub off enamel, it doesn't regrow, so you're increasing your chance of having cavities, sensitivity and oral health problems."
Additionally, Christakos adds that magic erasers contain another toxic ingredient — formaldehyde — which is carcinogenic.
"Not only is it bad for your teeth, but it's bad for your health. It can cause cancer, kidney problems and a whole bunch of other things because it's not meant to be ingested. Even the label says don’t put it in your mouth," Christakos said.
Christakos also says that while professionals know it's a bad idea, consumers may be none the wiser — so dentists and health professionals need to do their part to make sure their patients take internet trends with a grain of salt.
"All we can do is counter the misinformation with proper information and hopefully people can decipher that," Christakos said. "It's tough because people just post things on the internet, whether they're true or not."
Is it debunked?
From our investigations at Yahoo Canada, yes, using magic erasers on teeth is definitely debunked.
Although many TikTok users love how this trend makes their teeth look white and shiny, it is not good for anyone's health. For this reason, it's not recommended to give this fad a go.
Luckily, there are other, safer ways to whiten your teeth without any health repercussions.
Christakos explained that there's in-office whitening, where you can go to your dentist to get your teeth safely whitened from a professional. Additionally, whitening toothpaste will also help clean up certain stains.
"These methods are not nearly as abrasive as any magic eraser. And of course, keep up with good brushing and flossing," Christakos said.