Dental DIY: Can You Whiten Your Teeth With Turmeric?

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The Internet is full of tips and ideas for ways to clean or whiten your teeth at home, using a variety of common ingredients, from strawberries, to coconut oil, and even cacao (the ingredient used to make chocolate).

As dentists, we hear lots of questions about at-home “Dental DIY” teeth whitening methods from our patients. We’re always happy to discuss the science, mechanics, and biology behind the theories, as well as the potential risks and benefits for oral and whole-body health.

Great advice often comes from a combination of science and experience, so we decided try some of these trending tips out for ourselves, and share those results with you. Starting with a popular DIY teeth whitening method using Turmeric.

Whiten Your Teeth With Turmeric? You’re Kidding, Right?

Turmeric is a root that has long been used as a cooking spice, but has also been found to have some medicinal properties, including digestive/intestinal, anti-inflammatory, and has even been said to help prevent certain types of cancers. It also happens to be bright yellow.

We recruited blogger and social media contributor Jessica French to review and test a “Turmeric Toothpaste” recipe, and share her experience with you, all on video.

TL;DR: Here’s the Breakdown About Turmeric Toothpaste.

Turmeric has astringent properties and is also abrasive. It is most so in its natural root form, but is most widely available dried as a powder, so that’s what we used. The recipe: 2 parts turmeric powder to 1 part coconut oil and 1 part baking soda. Mix together to form a paste, and keep in a cool place (coconut oil is liquid at around 74-76 degrees). The Method: Put a generous amount on the toothbrush and brush as normal for 2 minutes. Rinse very well with water.

Does Turmeric Toothpaste Actually Work to Whiten Teeth?

Well, sort of. We found that it works about as well as using regular baking soda, which also has abrasive properties. Brushing occasionally with baking soda can put a nice polish on your teeth and make them appear whiter for a time. We found that using Turmeric has basically the same effect, with a few observations by our video blogger:

The Taste: Jessica, our blogger, thought this recipe tasted pretty awful. Not unbearable, but not the usual pleasant and minty experience most of us are used to.

The Mess: Turmeric is bright yellow and will stain almost anything that it comes into contact with, especially skin and clothing. The “toothpaste” turns to a liquid in your mouth, so it helps to be prepared for this experience. Turmeric toothpaste will immediately stain your toothbrush, so you may want to take this into consideration as well. It also turns your teeth yellow while brushing and requires a great deal of water to rinse your mouth clear.

The Time Requirement: Forget about the regular 2-minute routine. The rinsing, clean-up, and maybe even a change of clothes or the need to scrub the yellow from your face will definitely add time to your toothbrushing routine. On the plus side, you may get a good arm workout from scrubbing your sink clean twice a day.

Selecting a Toothpaste: If your desire is to find a toothpaste that is considered “natural” or fluoride free, there are an increasing number of options available without having to make your own. Check out this guide by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for some ideas.

Using an abrasive to give your teeth a fresh polish can be OK to do occasionally. We don’t recommend using something as abrasive as Turmeric or Baking Soda twice a day. That’s because your gum tissue is soft and sensitive, and can become irritated and inflamed, which could even cause or exacerbate gum disease.

If you’re concerned about stains or other issues related to teeth whitening, there are a variety of options and methods available, from in-office laser whitening treatments to at-home and over the counter options. We recommend discussing these options with your dentist to review the potential risks and benefits and ensure your mouth is in good health to use them.

As always, the best possible way to keep your smile as bright and white as possible is to visit your dentist for your regular checkup and cleaning, and to follow a good at-home oral hygiene routine of brushing for 2 minutes, twice per day, and flossing each day, and avoiding food and drink that can cause staining of your teeth.

What Dental DIY tooth whitening method do you think we should try next? Leave your comments and suggestions in the box to the left, and sign up for our blog so you don’t miss what we try next!

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