“Natural” is the latest trend, from organic skincare to whole foods. Teeth whitening is no exception, as a quick Google search will demonstrate. Natural doesn’t always mean healthy, though. Even if you notice whitening, you could be damaging your teeth. Here is what you should know.
The theory states that natural citric acid from lemons, oranges, or similar fruits, will remove stains from the teeth, leaving them whiter. Some people choose fruits with digestive enzymes, such as mango or pineapple, and some mix the fruit with baking soda or another abrasive.
The truth is that consuming acidic fruits as part of your diet can help reduce tooth staining. Scrubbing your teeth with them, though, is not the best idea. Prolonged contact with acids or enzymes will wear down your tooth enamel. This not only increases your risk for cavities and tooth decay, but it will actually turn your teeth yellow—the natural color of the dentin beneath the tooth enamel.
Natural tooth scrubs typically consist of pastes made from either baking soda and hydrogen peroxide or activated charcoal and water. Allegedly, these pastes remove staining and yellowing, making your smile shine.
In reality, like acidic fruits, natural tooth scrubs can cause damage to the tooth enamel. There is no definite proof that they whiten the teeth, and they are likely to reveal the yellow dentin beneath the tooth enamel.
Spices and Oils
Numerous spices and oils, such as turmeric and coconut oil, are alleged to whiten teeth. They are unlikely to cause damage, but they are also unlikely to work. Instead, return your oils and spices to the kitchen cabinet and pick up an ADA (American Dental Association) approved whitening toothpaste instead.
Better Ways to Whiten
There are several steps you can take to whiten your teeth using methods that are proven both safe and effective:
- Brush your teeth twice per day for 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth
- Use a whitening toothpaste with an ADA seal of approval
- Floss once per day
- Limit the consumption of dark berries, coffee, red wine, and other tooth-staining foods and beverages
- Rinse your mouth with plain water after every meal, snack, or sugary beverage
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco
- Visit your dentist for a professional cleaning twice per year
- Talk to your dentist about specific whitening products and services that are approved by the ADA
- Have your teeth professionally bleached once per year or as suggested by your hygienist
Many people want a whiter smile, but not all internet-recommended methods are smart choices. Choose whitening methods that are proven to be safe and effective rather than raiding your pantry in a quest to follow the latest fads.