TikTok users in the United States and in the United Kingdom have been sharing videos advocating the use of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. The users show videos of themselves applying the chemical to their teeth. One of the users defended the hack by pointing out that branded whitening strips contain a higher percentage of the chemical that she used in her video. Dental experts have warned against the do-it-yourself (DIY) whitening process pointing out that it could cause permanent damage to teeth and gums.
Claudia, from Essex, with the TikTok handle @clauds244, shared a video of herself using 3 percent food grade hydrogen peroxide on her teeth. The 18-year-old is seen dipping an earbud into the solution and applying it to her teeth.
In the voiceover, she says that she bought the £4 bottle of the chemical from eBay. After leaving it on her teeth for 30 seconds to a minute she brushed her teeth. She described the taste of the chemical to be "disgusting." Finally, she concluded that within four days, her teeth were so white she did not have to use the chemical anymore.
The video drew a significant amount of backlash which led Claudia to do a follow up video. In the second video, she pointed out that teeth whitening strips by Crest use 14 percent hydrogen peroxide. She also stated that she just wanted to share her hack but did not ask anyone to try it out.
In the US, teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure, so teeth whitening products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Crest being a US brand does not have to adhere to the same regulations as products made in the UK. In the UK teeth whitening products can have between 0.1 percent and 6 percent hydrogen peroxide. Over the counter teeth whitening agents cannot legally contain more than 0.1 per cent of the chemical.
Reena Wadia, founder of London gum clinic RW Perio, told the Daily Mail that teeth whitening products ensure that the hydrogen peroxide gel does not come in contact with the gums. By rinsing the mouth or applying it to the teeth one can end up damaging the gums. Gum damage can lead to teeth loss.
London based dental hygienist Anna Middleton pointed out that white teeth are not the sign of healthy teeth. Simply removing stains does not ensure that the teeth remain healthy. When dentists whiten a patient's teeth, they take the overall health into consideration. Cheap DIY hacks should not replace professional dental care.