Multiple TikTok users have gone viral in the past few years for making suggestions related to oral health. But these so-called TikTok tips are proving a problem for dentists and patients, alike. The latest trend is one that supposedly helps whiten teeth. But it does so temporarily by irreversibly damaging your teeth’s precious enamel, the protective layer you cannot replace once it is gone.
What is this TikTok Trend Said to Whiten Teeth?
A recent video produced by a TikTok user answered viewer questions about what she, the influencer, used to whiten teeth. But many people, particularly dentists, have found her answer shocking. She reports a long history of using Magic Erasers and similar melamine sponges to scrub away stains on her teeth. In fact, the user quotes a recent study into melamine sponges that said that these sponges can remove stains from teeth without the scratching often caused by toothbrushes.
Many people feel tempted by quick and easy ways to cosmetically improve their appearance and whiten teeth. But using a melamine sponge is not safe for your pearly whites. In fact, visiting your dentist provides safe ways to achieve the bright white, shining smile you want. Professional teeth whitening is safe for your teeth and gums and does not destroy or damage your precious tooth enamel, unlike using a melamine sponge.
Why is Using a Melamine Sponge to Whiten Teeth Dangerous?
Melamine sponges are designed to scrub grime from walls, countertops, floors and bathtubs. They are not designed for use on the body, according to Procter & Gamble. Procter & Gamble is the manufacturer of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, the best-selling erasing sponge brand. The brand reports that use on the body can cause abrasions. The sponges also contain toxins that are dangerous if swallowed.
Melamine foam, the primary ingredient in these household cleaning sponges, becomes hard and abrasive when mixed with water. In fact, the sponges share abrasive qualities with sandpaper. This abrasiveness permanently scrubs the enamel off of your teeth, not just surface stains. In comparison, professional teeth whitening in your dentist’s office safely whitens teeth without harming enamel or your gum tissues.
Some melamine sponges also contain alcohol ethoxylates that are poisonous when swallowed. Some experts say they contain formaldehyde, an ingredient in embalming fluid for people and animals. These chemicals can irritate your eyes, nose and throat. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is also carcinogenic.
To understand how dangerous using melamine sponges to whiten teeth really is, consider the role of enamel in your oral health.
Enamel is the solid white top layer of your teeth, under which the next layer is more yellow. Enamel protects your teeth against decay. By wearing this protective layer away with these sponges, you actually put yourself at much greater, lifelong risk for cavities, tooth loss and a dingier smile. You will also likely experience increasing tooth sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods.
One of the biggest concerns about TikTok methods for whitening your teeth is the tendency of very young people to try these trends. Pre-teens and teens are particularly vulnerable to damaging their teeth through methods like these. This makes it very important that parents are aware of the trends and discuss the dangers with their children. It is a tragedy to cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel at a very young age. One such bad decision can affect tooth health for the rest of the individual’s life.
A Safer Way
Professional teeth whitening in your dentist’s office is the safest way to whiten teeth. Your dentist can also provide at-home teeth whitening kits for great results. As alternatives, you have the option of store bought teeth whitening strips. But these over-the-counter strips do not provide the more immediate, vibrant results of whitening methods in your dentist’s office.
If you want a brighter and whiter smile, schedule a visit with your Carolina Dental Arts dentist today. We have three locations to serve you, two in Raleigh and one in Goldsboro, NC. Contact us for appointment scheduling and to learn about your options to safely whiten teeth.