Does TikTok's Viral Teeth Whitening Solution Really Work?

A smile goes a long way, and some people feel even more confident in smiling when they have white teeth. Ever since we were kids, we were taught that white teeth indicate good oral hygiene. And now that we're old enough to shop toothpastes ourselves, the slogans on the boxes that guarantee whiter teeth confirm what we've been told. "Just as white, straight teeth convey youth, a smile with crooked, discolored, worn, or missing teeth is associated with an aged look," says professor of restorative dentistry at UCLA's School of Dentistry Edmond Hewlett (via Stuff).

Thanks to the great emphasis on white teeth, teeth-whitening has become a multi-billion dollar industry in many parts of the world. According to GlobeNewswire, the global teeth-whitening market was worth $6.86 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $11.66 billion by 2030. From OTC whitening strips to tray-based teeth whiteners to in-office whitening, people are completely sold on options that can turn their teeth several shades whiter. Even TikTok, a go-to video-sharing platform for the most unheard-of beauty hacks, has spun out a DIY dental tip that can help you save tons of money spent on dental appointments. Easy to produce using dirt-cheap ingredients, this hack has gone viral. In fact, many users have claimed this trick gave them whiter teeth. But is this viral teeth-whitening treatment really worth all the hype, or is it a flash in the pan?

The ingredients you'll need

In her TikTok video that has garnered over 2 million views at the time of writing, user Kristen Machado (@kris10mac) shares her DIY teeth-whitening hack that's surprisingly simple to master. Opening with, "Let me let you in on a little secret: I get complimented for my teeth all the time," she talks about how she achieves her widely praised white teeth by making a concoction of generic mouthwash, baking soda, and a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. After brushing her teeth, she rinses her teeth with this mixture every night. And the result — she guarantees — is sparkly teeth.

In another TikTok video that's also garnered much attention, user @nikkmatt ups the ante by sharing her pictures of before and after trying a DIY teeth-whitening hack. In her video, she makes a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and toothpaste, and combines the ingredients until they achieve paste consistency. Then she applies the paste to her toothbrush and brushes her teeth. The video concludes with images of her teeth before and after three days of using the hack. And presto! Her teeth literally lightened by a whole shade. So that's what's happening in TikTok land, but is it worth trying IRL?

Experts weigh in on the hack

Responding to Kristen Machado's viral video, cosmetic dentist Dr. Alex Rubinov tells Byrdie: "​​What she's promoting is surface level teeth whitening." In fact, the ingredients that she combines are capable of whitening the teeth, which makes the hack useful to an extent. However, rinsing your mouth with this concoction shouldn't be a part of your daily oral care routine. Also speaking to the website, Dr. Daniel Rubinshtein warns, "Do not do it every day, as the acid from this mixture can irritate your gums and teeth."

Actually, the idea of using baking soda to whiten teeth isn't new. An abrasive compound, baking soda can rid your tooth surface of debris from drinking coffee or smoking. Therefore, it's effective in brightening your teeth up to a point and preventing discoloration, Bhandal Dental Practice explains. However, overuse of baking soda can wreak havoc on your tooth enamel. It should only be used once per week for two minutes at a time, and cannot replace toothpaste because it doesn't have fluoride, a mineral that fights cavities. To keep your teeth strong and sparkly, you can brush them with a mix of toothpaste and baking soda sometimes. The same can be said for hydrogen peroxide, a mild bleach that lifts the stains in the teeth and whitens them. However, Medical News Today notes that frequent use of hydrogen peroxide in high concentrations can cause significant damage to your teeth. To prevent staining, brush your teeth after drinking or eating colored food.