TikTok is a world that I do not understand because I was born in the wrong decade. More often than not, the viral videos on the site leave this Gen X’er perplexed. However, I will admit that from time to time there is a yummy recipe or a useful hack that pops up on the Gen Z platform. However, this is not one of those times.
Move over Tide Pod challenge, because the latest horrifying (and completely unsafe) trend is coming in hot with the help of Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.
The latest DIWHY trend on TikTok involves using a Magic Eraser as an at-home teeth whitening tool. Yes, you read that correctly. The kids are using a cleaning product–that was designed to remove tough stains from your bathtub and stove–to whiten their teeth.
The Unverified Magic Eraser Claim
In a video posted by Heather Dunn, the Tiktoker claimed she was always getting attention because of her bright, white smile. She said that some of her biggest compliments came from her dentist, who praised her “strong and healthy” teeth.
Then, she shared her three-step process for how she gets that “squeaky clean” grill. She began by explaining to her viewers that she avoids fluoride and practices oil pulling. However, things took a turn for the worst when she revealed she finishes her teeth cleaning routine by scrubbing her pearly whites with a tiny, wet piece of Magic Eraser.
Is A Magic Eraser Safe To Use On Teeth?
Before we deconstruct Dunn’s claims about fluoride and oil pulling, let’s first answer the biggest question on everyone’s mind–is it safe to use a Magic Eraser on your teeth? According to oral healthcare expert Dr. Maha Yakob, the answer is a big no.
“Melamine foam (the main ingredient in a Magic Eraser) is made of formaldehyde, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer considers to be carcinogenic. It’s highly toxic if ingested, inhaled, and [potentially dangerous via] any other form of direct contact,” Dr. Yakob explained to Shape.
“There have been reported cases of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory tract infections” among people who have had direct contact with formaldehyde.
Dunn says she avoids fluoride in her dental routine, but there is no scientific evidence to back up her claim that this contributes to her white smile. In fact, the science says the opposite.
“We lead with scientific facts, and fluoride is actually a key ingredient for having strong teeth and in line with American Dental Association recommendations,” Dr. Yakob said.
She explained that when fluoride—a natural mineral—enters the mouth and mixes with the ions in saliva, the enamel actually absorbs it.
“Once it’s in the enamel, fluoride pairs up with calcium and phosphate to create a powerful and strong defense system, helping to remineralize any early cavities and keep them from progressing.”
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is a popular trend that entails swirling a small amount of olive, coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil around in your mouth for a few minutes. The claim is that this will wash away harmful toxins and bacteria, thus leaving your teeth whiter.
Some people also insist that oil pulling can reduce cavities and prevent tooth decay, however these claims are largely anecdotal.
Dr. Yakob said that “there are currently no reliable scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of oil pulling for reducing cavities, whitening teeth, or helping with your oral health in any way.”
The Hashtag Has Millions Of Views
Sadly, the hashtag #magiceraserteeth has still accumulated more than two million views on TikTok. In addition, several dentists have made response videos advising people not to use Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser on their teeth.
Hopefully, this trend will die out quickly without anyone getting too sick.