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Magic Eraser mania: TikTok teeth-whitening trend condemned by dentists

A viral TikTok video encouraging users to consider using Magic Erasers to whiten their teeth is drawing the ire of dentists nationwide.

Despite what you may see on TikTok, consumer products carry warning labels for a reason, and the one written in all caps on the back of Magic Eraser packages is pretty clear.

“AVOID ACCIDENTS: DO NOT USE ON SKIN OR OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY. USING ON SKIN WILL LIKELY CAUSE ABRASIONS, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF TODDLERS AND PETS TO AVOID ACCIDENTAL INGESTION.”

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The folks at Proctor & Gamble may still want to rethink the wording of the warning on its popular Mr. Clean-brand cleansing sponges, though, considering the TikTok trend one woman started by demonstrating on video how she has been intentionally ingesting the product for several years by using the chemical sponges to whiten her teeth.

“Yeah, your teeth are white because you scrubbed all the enamel off them. So, in fact, no don’t do this,” Dr. Benjamin Winters, a dentist at Wincrest Orthodontics in Texas with the TikTok handle @thebentist, said in a video posted on the social media platform.

Specifically, Winters stated in his retort that the primary ingredient in Magic Erasers is melamine foam, which - when mixed with water and other ingredients - becomes “hard as glass and acts like a really abrasive sandpaper,” the Miami Herald reported.

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According to Sinclair Broadcast Group, the trend began in June when TikTok user Heather Dunn shared her controversial teeth-whitening regime in a video in which she stated:

“Yes, I am prepared for all the dentists that are going to come on here and be like, ‘don’t do it, she’s crazy!’ 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.’

“Step number one, I don’t use any fluoride at all. When the dentist says, ‘use your fluoride, don’t rinse,’ umm... no, I don’t do that... Number two, I do something called oil pulling,’ I look it up on YouTube and I use coconut oil…

“Number three, and here is where we all gasp. This is a Magic Eraser. Yeah, that’s what I said. I take a little, tiny piece of it and wet it, don’t touch your gums... I’ve been doing it for, like, two years.”

Dunn’s video now carries a TikTok warning that states: “The action in this video could result in serious injury.”

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Meanwhile, the U.S. patent for Magic Erasers clearly states that in addition to melamine foam, the product contains sulfurous acid, formaldehyde and sodium, Sinclair Broadcast Group reported.

According to the Miami Herald, Mr. Clean parent company Proctor & Gamble in an email to fact-checking website Snopes denied the presence of formaldehyde in Magic Erasers noting the embalming fluid ingredient “is not and has never been an ingredient in Magic Eraser.” The company clarified that the product contains “formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer... this ingredient is not formaldehyde and poses no health or safety risks,” the company said.

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