Magic eraser on teeth: the TikTok trend explained

You may come across the most outrageous trends on TikTok going viral in a split second. One such viral trend is the Magic Eraser teeth trend. The trend went viral after a woman revealed Magic Eraser as the secret behind her white smile. In reality, it is a home-cleaning sponge used to take out stubborn stains from different types of surfaces. The idea of using Magic Eraser on teeth drew a lot of attention and criticism from dentists everywhere. Here is what we think you must know about using the magic eraser on teeth:

Magic Eraser on Teeth: can it really whiten them? 

We saw TikTokers take part in the strangest of challenges in the past few years. Who can forget the absurd Tide Pod Challenge that poisoned around 10,600 kids? If that wasn’t enough, in comes the Magic Eraser teeth trend. Just FYI, Magic Eraser is a cleaning sponge that helps erase tough stains from various types of surfaces.

Heather Dunn, a TikToker, shocked everyone when she said she uses the melamine sponge on a daily basis. She claims in the video she swears by the cleaning foam because it keeps her teeth white and sparkling. 

Dentists everywhere are against the idea though because it can damage your enamel for good. One study says on the contrary, that it removes stains and is less abrasive than regular toothbrushes. Here are the three biggest factors why using Magic Eraser on teeth can cause many short-term and long-term issues:

  • It contains Melamine, a rigid and abrasive compound
  • WHO classifies melamine as a Risk 3 carcinogen (cancerous)
  • Highly toxic, so accidental ingestion can lead to kidney failure

The magic eraser on teeth TikTok trend: what is it?

Heather Dunn is a TikToker who started the Magic Eraser viral trend on TikTok. In a video, she demonstrates and shares the way she uses melamine foam to whiten her teeth. She also claims she stays away from fluoride products and oil-pulling with coconut oil is her best friend. 

There are two sides to the story though because not everything that turns into a trend is good for you. Dentists on TikTok could not stay away from warning everyone about the dangerous consequences of using the cleaning foam.

A dentist TikToker, “The Bentist” in a video says, “the foam is hard as glass and acts as a really abrasive sandpaper”. So, they may look white as pearl after using it but that’s because you scrub all your enamel off. This is why understanding how enamel works is quite important.

Another dentist, Dr. Zainab Mackie, from Detroit, Michigan, says, “she is seeing results now but using that sponge on your teeth is like using sandpaper – it’s too rough for your teeth”. She also mentions that the magic eraser is compressed in a way that it becomes strong, almost like a glass shard. Of course, it removes stains but at the same time, it also scrubs the enamel off of your teeth.

Here is what the usage label on the back of a magic eraser says, including “do not use on your skin or glossy surfaces”.

Enamel is a protective outer layer of your teeth that acts as a shield against bacteria. Abrasion and Erosion are two processes that can weaken the enamel over time. Abrasion is when you rub harsh materials against the teeth, whereas erosion happens due to overexposure to dietary acids. Both processes can be controlled by monitoring what products you use on your teeth and your diet. 

If you rub abrasive products such as melamine against your teeth, you may damage your enamel. Losing the enamel means you expose your teeth to decay, sensitivity, and countless other oral diseases. Thus, you can cause much more harm than good to your teeth by using an abrasive product.

Why the magic eraser makes your teeth whiter?

The main substance in Magic Eraser is Melamine. It is a type of plastic industrially used in making reusable crockery and utensils. Once you soak the foam in water, the melamine activates and turns almost as hard as glass. It acts like fine and abrasive sandpaper that removes marks and stains. If you use this melamine foam on your teeth, it is actually this thin sandpaper-like surface that removes stains and makes your teeth whiter. 

It may seem like an easy and quick fix but its safety is doubtful. You may get whiter teeth but at the cost of damaging your enamel. 

Can I use magic eraser on my teeth, is it safe?

With melamine in the foam, the biggest concern should be if magic erasers are toxic. These are some important findings to answer the query: are magic erasers toxic?

  • It contains formaldehyde which is carcinogenic according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) by WHO.
  • Formaldehyde can cause nose, eyes, and throat irritation.
  • It also contains Sodium Bisulfate and sulfurous acid that may intensify the effects of formaldehyde.
  • Several studies report a connection between formaldehyde and certain types of cancers, such as leukemia and nasal sinuses.

Keeping these studies in mind, it is better to stay away from such dangerous and unpredictable trends.

What are the alternatives to this method?

Rather than endangering your oral health, it is better to stick to conventional, tried, and tested ways. There are many reliable and safe alternatives you can try for teeth whitening. Here are the alternatives you can try instead of the controversial Magic Eraser:

In-office Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening is safer than any other whitening product because a dentist performs it. Dental bleach, also known as Hydrogen Peroxide is the main component that whitens teeth. The treatment takes place in a clinical setting with a controlled amount of peroxide. On average, 30 to 45% percent of peroxide is safe to use on teeth. Too much peroxide is also bad for the enamel, so this is a much more reliable way of whitening teeth.

At-home whitening trays

Whitening home kits are affordable, and safe too if you do not overuse them. They too contain a slight amount of peroxide to remove minor stains. You can either ask your dentist to give you a kit or you can get one over the counter. Both have a certain amount of peroxide to whiten your teeth. Home whitening kits are much safer than using a Magic Eraser because the ingredients are safer for your teeth. 

Whitening Toothpaste

Much more accessible and easy on the pocket, toothpaste is always there to save the day. It is important to get one that’s safe for you though. Some of them may be too harsh and abrasive for your teeth. Choose one with not more than 3% Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide and minimal sodium bicarbonate. These ingredients in high percentages can be too harsh for your enamel. Whitening toothpaste is a much safer choice than melamine foam for whitening. They may not give the most sparkling results but with persistent use, you can see a bit of improvement. 

Oil-pulling with coconut oil

In the same video on TikTok, Heather Dunn says she uses oil-pulling for teeth whitening. She swears by a combination of Magic Eraser and coconut oil pulling for stain-free teeth. If we compare the two, oil-pulling is much safer than the melamine eraser because it is herbal and chemical-free. All you do is swish the oil for 10 to 15 minutes in your mouth like a mouthwash. It claims to whiten teeth and reduce plaque-producing bacteria in the mouth. Dentists question the effectiveness of this trick because for whitening you need a bleaching chemical such as peroxide to whiten the teeth. 

References:

https://home.howstuffworks.com/magic-eraser.htm

Otsuka, T., & Kawata, T. (2015). Effect of Melamine Sponge on Tooth Stain Removal. The Chinese journal of dental research : the official journal of the Scientific Section of the Chinese Stomatological Association (CSA)18(4), 235–240. https://doi.org/10.3290/j.cjdr.a35148

Formaldehyde. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/chemicals/formaldehyde.html

Toothman, J. (2008, August 25). How do magic erasers get rid of stains? HowStuffWorks. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://home.howstuffworks.com/magic-eraser.htm