TikTok is fast becoming a repository of "health" tips, and not all of them great. We've had splinting your poop out, checking if you are dehydrated by looking at your hand, and now we have using Mr Clean Magic Erasers to whiten your teeth.
In a video that now carries the warning "could cause serious injury", use @theheatherdunn told her 24,000 followers how she has been using a magic eraser on her teeth for years.
"I am prepared for all the dentists that are going to come on here and be like, 'don't do it, she's crazy'," she said in the video, which has over 255,000 likes. "I don't care. I go to the dentist, and I don't tell them what I do, but they're like, 'You have the healthiest, strongest, cleanest teeth.' And I'm like, 'Why thank you.'"
Going on to say that she does not use fluoride and that she also uses coconut oil, she then demonstrates that she breaks off a bit of a magic eraser, before rubbing it over her teeth and avoiding the gums, adding "I've been doing it for, like, two years."
First up, this is nothing new, and like the TikTokers drinking lettuce juice to get them to sleep, it likely came about because somebody misunderstood a study. There is a bit of research that Reddit etc likes to cite on this, that says that a melamine sponge might be an effective way to remove stains on (removed) teeth before aesthetic whitening in a dentist's office. However, melamine sponges are not erasers by themselves, lacking the chemicals that make them so.
Second of all, do not do this.
“TikTok really should put out an oral health warning on each posting – like a picture of a toothless crone from the French Revolution,” dentist Ollie Jupes aka DentistGoneBadd told IFLScience. “Using something like Magic Eraser or similar products is insane.”
“The manufacturers of Magic Eraser actually warn that the product shouldn’t touch the skin. Apart from being very abrasive – akin to sandpaper – the melamine foam also contains formaldehyde – a substance you would find most dental professionals would want anywhere near their mouths.
"Bodies are embalmed with formaldehyde.”
The problem isn't just limited to TikTok. Jupes says that he has seen similar YouTube videos that recommend brushing your teeth with other substances, such as bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice.
“The lemon effectively softens the enamel of the tooth and the bicarbonate removes the soft layer. This can lead to sensitivity, especially if the dentine near the neck of the tooth by the gums, is involved,"
“Would you pour acid on your skin, then try and rub it off with Brillo Pads? Hopefully not, but there is probably someone out there who has tried it on TikTok. Don’t do it!”
Much worse, he also had one patient who came to him who had recently been brushing their teeth with bleach.
“As a general rule, DON’T go to TikTok for your dental advice," he adds. "Why not try…ooh, I don’t know…a dentist?”