Pearly white teeth have become a part of society’s rigid beauty standards, and some people are going to unhealthy lengths to achieve them. A new TikTok trend emerged when one creator shared how she whitened her teeth using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser — yes, the thing you use to remove stains from your kitchen counters — which, unsurprisingly, is drawing concern from dental professionals. Dr. Zainab Mackie, DDS, shared her own TikTok video warning viewers to street clear of the whitening method.
“Using that on your teeth is like using sandpaper — it’s too rough,” Dr. Mackie says in her video. “Second, why would you put random chemicals in your mouth?” This perspective is echoed by Dr. Matt Nejad, DDS, who tells Glam that using a Magic Eraser on your teeth is extremely unsafe. “The Magic Eraser is very abrasive and the ingredients are not suitable for oral use,” he says. “Use of abrasives is not recommended for whitening your teeth because it leads to long-term complications through loss of enamel.”
Dr. Riddhi Gangolli, senior director of professional education and marketing at SmileDirectClub, adds that destroying your enamel is irreversible. “Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, but it is not living, so it can’t naturally regenerate,” she says. “Once you lose enamel, it’s gone.” Plus, she says, the chemicals in magic erasers (like sulfurous acid and melamine, a derivative of formaldehyde) are extremely dangerous when swallowed or when they come in contact with the skin.
If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, there are plenty of safe and effective options. Dr. Nejad says the best solution is custom-fitted whitening trays. “There is a lot of variety in the design and quality of trays, but the best ones are custom-fitted and form a super-tight seal around the gums to keep the whitening gel in contact with the teeth and keep saliva out as well,” he says. “These trays are combined with low concentration, long-acting carbamide peroxide gel that can be worn overnight. This provides results with minimal or no sensitivity for many patients.”
Dr. Nejad also points to over-the-counter whitening strips as a safe option but notes that the results are typically less noticeable, as they come with limitations. Oftentimes, whitening strips don’t reach far enough back in the mouth or do not form a strong seal, he says, making it difficult to get a dramatic whitening result.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that yellow in the teeth can be completely normal and healthy. “Yellow hues do not necessarily mean it is unhealthy, and even the whitest natural teeth have some yellow hues,” says Dr. Nejad. “There are times that yellow can be from poor oral hygiene and neglect but sometimes it is just a person’s natural tooth color.”
“To understand the color of teeth, it’s important to understand the different layers of a tooth,” adds Dr. Gangolli. “The strong outer layer, enamel, is a blueish white color and is also a bit translucent. Below that is the dentine, a hard tissue with a naturally yellow color. When you look at teeth, they might have a slight yellow tinge to them because the dentin’s color is showing through the enamel’s translucent layer.”
She adds that teeth yellowing can be caused by many factors. “Bad oral hygiene, tobacco products, some medications, certain foods and beverages, and the aging process can all cause unhealthy discoloration of the teeth.” Whatever you decide to do with your teeth, be sure to speak to your dentist first — and please, keep the Magic Erasers in the kitchen.