Here's what experts want you to know before giving the DIY hack a try.
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There are plenty of over-the-counter teeth-whitening products available to purchase at your local pharmacy or treatments you can seek out from your dentist. But many TikTok users are flocking to one user's buzzy video featuring her hack for at-home teeth whitening.
In the clip, which has received 2.3 million likes and more than 15 million views since it was posted, user @kris10mac claims she gets complimented on her teeth "all the time." She proceeds to let viewers in on her "little secret." It's her own mix of mouthwash, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.
The video has drawn attention from dentists and DIY-enthusiasts alike. Wondering if this teeth-whitening trick measures up to dentists' standards? Spoiler alert: You're probably better off sticking to store-bought teeth whiteners.
"There are plenty of ways to keep your teeth bright, white, and healthy without resorting to something that might be dangerous or unscientific in nature," Erinne Kennedy, D.M.D, M.P.H., M.M.S.c., American Dental Association (ADA) spokesperson and director of pre-doctoral dental education for Kansas City University College of Dental Medicine, tells Shape.
Read on to learn why you might not want to try the viral hack yourself and what to do instead.
What is the latest viral teeth-whitening hack?
In the popular video, the creator explains the process for the three-ingredient teeth-whitening solution she makes and uses at home. She suggests using any bottle of mouthwash you can buy — her pick is Crest. She uses or pours out about a quarter of the bottle of mouthwash, then, she tops off the bottle with hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic liquid that comes in a brown bottle and is typically used to treat skin wounds and kill germs, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Lastly, she adds a sprinkling of about a teaspoon of baking soda straight into the clear mouthwash bottle.
The TikToker advises viewers mix up the bottle and rinse their mouths with its contents nightly after brushing their teeth. "It will make your teeth sparkle," she says. And her "pro tip" for special events? Brush with the mixed solution poured over a toothbrush for "extra sparkly" results.
Does mixing mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda for whiter teeth work?
The concoction may result in whiter teeth, but it could come with side effects, Sharon Huang, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist based in New York City, tells Shape.
There's nothing wrong with each component the TikToker is using to whiten her teeth, explains the experts. Hydrogen peroxide is actually the main active ingredient in many whitening products, and it does whiten teeth, says Huang. Baking soda is used in dental care products, including some toothpastes as well, points out Kennedy. And good old mouthwash is a staple for oral health, as it can freshen breath and fight gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and plaque, according to the ADA.
But just because the ingredients can help whiten teeth doesn't mean they can be used willy-nilly and in any combination. They have to be used under certain conditions and in designated volumes for safety and efficacy. What's concerning to Huang is the "self-concoction" of this DIY method that includes vague measurements.
Not to mention, hydrogen peroxide on its own is not a stable ingredient. Its potency deteriorates when exposed to light, says Huang (that's why it comes in that brown bottle). So, when added to a clear bottle of mouthwash, as demonstrated in the viral TikTok video, it's not as potent.
It can also oxidize quickly, meaning it turns into water and oxygen, explains Huang. That's why even a regular bottle of hydrogen peroxide that's been sitting on your shelf for a long period of time might not actually work to whiten your teeth.
Plus, since hydrogen peroxide is such a reactive substance, it could interact in unknown ways with other ingredients in the mouthwash too, says Huang.
If you incorporate it properly — in whitening strips, for example — hydrogen peroxide will whiten your teeth. "My concern with the trend is that people are mixing this together at home," says Huang. "There's no standard as to how you're supposed to make this."
Is this teeth-whitening hack safe?
There's no real way to tell if the hack is safe, according to Kennedy. "The simple answer is that we don't know," she says. "Because this is a DIY recommendation, it doesn't have the ADA seal of approval. And products with the ADA seal of approval have been shown to be safe for your teeth and other tissues in your mouth."
That said, there could be consequences for trying the hack at home. "If you have too much of one type of chemical, it can cause burns on your gingiva [gums]," says Kennedy. In addition to burns or irritations on the tissue, an untested mix of chemicals could also cause permanent damage to teeth, including damaging the tooth enamel, she adds, noting it's similar to chemical exposure on the skin.
It's more effective to use an active ingredient such as hydrogen peroxide in the form of a whitening strip or to go get a professional whitening done, rather than mixing your own concoction including hydrogen peroxide at home.
It's also important to keep in mind that if a substance dissolves your teeth's enamel, your body cannot create new enamel, adds Kennedy. "If you're trying this and you are an adult, your permanent teeth don't regenerate, and so caring for your teeth and ensuring that no damage is done is absolutely paramount," she says.
You can safely mix mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda for white teeth: True or false?
Neither Kennedy nor Huang recommends trying this viral TikTok hack for whiter teeth. Unchecked use of the substances suggested in the clip could result in negative health consequences, even if your teeth do become brighter in the short term as a result.
Trying the mixture out for yourself is not worth the risk. You'd be better off going to the pharmacy to just buy a mouthwash that already has whitening components in it, says Huang. Plus, store-bought teeth-whitening products also likely include disease- and tooth decay-prevention benefits, she adds.
If you are trying to decide how to whiten your teeth, you can also reach out to your dentist for advice. "Your dentist is an expert on your teeth and they can give you targeted solutions that help you develop your best smile," says Kennedy.