But what exactly is the science behind this purple gel—and can it actually brighten and whiten your teeth? We spoke with experts in the field of dentistry about this viral teeth whitening treatment to get the rundown on whether or not this purple gel lives up to the claims.
- Bridget Glazarov, DDS, general and cosmetic dentist
- Ellen Katz, DDS, dentist specializing in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry
- Mike Bluestone
- Robert Sachs, DDS, dentist with a 30+ year tenure at Sachs Family Dentistry, focused on cosmetic dentistry, crown and bridge, and endodontics, and Chief Clinical Officer of Freedom Technologies Group L.L.C.
First, how does teeth whitening work?
With the wide variety of colorful, acidic foods and drinks that our teeth come in contact with on a daily basis, enamel stains are a super normal part of having teeth. Unsurprisingly, teeth whitening is a huge industry, and one that people spend billions of dollars on every year.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth whitening is a process that uses different chemical agents, usually carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, to essentially “bleach” the teeth from within. When you apply whitening treatments to your teeth, the chemicals seep into the inner portion of the tooth, and the reactions change the color, resulting in brighter pearly whites.
So, what about the purple gel—does it actually whiten teeth?
Various influencers on TikTok have reportedly experienced an immediate improvement in the color of their teeth after using the purple gel. But here’s the thing about products on the internet: If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. And that seems to be the consensus on this one.
“To my knowledge, there is no evidence to support these claims,” says Robert Sachs, DDS, president and owner at Sachs Family Dentistry and chief operating officer at Freedom Technologies Group. One expert we reached out to for this story even refused to comment on it since it’s not an ADA or FDA–approved product.
“The active ingredient in most whitening products is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, neither of which are listed as ingredients in the purple gel,” says Ellen Katz, DDS, co-clinical director at Full Mouth Rehabilitation Continuing Dental Education Program at NYU and co-owner of Maison BE Dental Studio.
But is it possible that something else is going on that would cause teeth to appear whiter? Well, as it turns out, the temporary effect people are seeing on TikTok could be a bit of a play on colors.
“On the color spectrum, purple is the complementary opposite of yellow,” explains Mike Bluestone, head of business development at Smile Brilliant. “Just as purple shampoos are designed to offset the unwanted yellow/brassing in blonde hair, teeth color corrector neutralizes yellow hues in teeth to generate a vivid white/neutral tone.” He explains, however, that this product isn’t really whitening the teeth—it’s simply “creating the temporary illusion of white teeth for a short period of time, usually a few hours.”
What to know if you’re tempted to try the purple teeth-whitening gel
You should always reach out to your dentist, or other health professional, before trying any new product you see online—especially one that hasn’t been extensively tested for safety.
“It's difficult to say whether the purple whitening gel actually works long-term without any harmful or damaging side effects, as there have been limited studies, testing, or medical evidence of its effectiveness, [and] none of the active ingredients are known to whiten teeth,” explains Dr. Katz. And considering how important clinical studies are in keeping us informed about the benefits and risks of what we put in or on our bodies, Dr. Katz recommends always exercising caution when the ingredients, toxicity, and side effects aren’t known.
“Additionally, it's worth noting that when it comes to dental products, some TikTok videos may be sponsored or may not provide accurate information,” says Bridget Glazarov, DDS, an award-winning general and cosmetic dentist and co-owner of Maison BE Dental Studio.
And if you’re thinking of doing a little at-home purple DIY, experts warn it can actually do more harm than good. “It may cause the opposite effect and cause deeper, more pronounced stains to the enamel, depending on the ingredients in the dye,” says Dr. Glazarov.
Still tempted? Touch base with your dentist first. “I encourage you to get information about teeth whitening or anything dental hygiene related from your dentist or hygienist, not from social media,” says Dr. Sachs.
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