It seems like we’re always hearing about new methods of natural teeth whitening, from charcoal to coconut oil to acid cider vinegar. The latest one that’s been getting some buzz is turmeric teeth whitening.

Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice that is often found in Indian food. As for its whitening abilities, the American Dental Association is skeptical, saying there is no “reliable scientific evidence” that it will brighten your smile.

Turmeric may have some useful dental applications though. Research indicates that a compound called curcumin can help fight bacteria buildup in the mouth. It shows promise in treating gingivitis and even oral cancer.

Turmeric Teeth Whitening May Make a Mess

Not only that, but you may make a big mess should you decide to try it, as this blogger discovered. She tried brushing her teeth with a recipe for homemade turmeric toothpaste that is being widely disseminated on the internet. The ingredients, in addition to turmeric, are baking soda and coconut oil.

After brushing with the homemade paste, she describes how it took four rounds of vigorous swishing to remove the spice from her teeth, then several minutes of scrubbing to remove it from the corners of her mouth and her sink. It permanently stained her brush. So if you do want to give it a try, we suggest using an older toothbrush.

Her take on the effectiveness of turmeric teeth whitening: her teeth “perhaps looked even a little bit whiter.” Not exactly a rousing endorsement. She also admits the whiter look was “likely thanks to the baking soda.”

Be Careful With Homemade Whitening Products

Baking soda can remove surface stains because it’s a mild abrasive. In fact, it’s found in some toothpastes. If you’re interested in trying baking soda for whitening, we recommend using a toothpaste that contains it rather than mixing up your own solution. Toothpaste has been tested to ensure the formulation is safe for teeth. Select a paste that carries the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.

When using baking soda, it’s important not to brush too vigorously. If you do, you risk wearing away the outer layer of enamel on your teeth. This will actually make your teeth look more yellow, by exposing an inside layer of your tooth called dentin. Over time baking soda can also make restorations like crowns appear duller. If you wear braces, you should avoid brushing with baking soda as it can weaken the glue used for braces. This can leave dark spots caused by a reaction to the baking soda.

We’ve also seen recipes for homemade teeth whitening solutions that contain lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. These substances can harm teeth by wearing away your tooth enamel, especially when combined with abrasives like baking soda.

Professional Teeth Whitening Is Your Safest Option

The safest and most effective teeth whitening option is a professional treatment. You can receive a treatment in our office for the quickest results or use our professional-strength gel at home for more gradual whitening. If you choose to whiten at home, we’ll provide you with trays made from impressions of your teeth. They’re far easier to use than messy strips or other drugstore products, and they make it easy to get complete coverage. We’re confident the results will be better than turmeric teeth whitening!

Not All Stains Respond Well to Whitening

Not all stains respond well to teeth whitening treatments, even professional ones. Extrinsic stains on the surface of teeth, often caused by smoking, drinking coffee, or consuming other staining substances, are typically not too difficult to remove. In contrast, intrinsic stains caused by discoloration in the interior of teeth that shows through your enamel, cannot be removed by whitening treatments.

You can choose a cosmetic dental treatment like dental veneers or tooth bonding to cover this kind of discoloration. You can expect porcelain veneers to look good for at least a decade. While more affordable, a bonding treatment won’t last as long.

To talk to one of our dentists about the best way to brighten your smile, call Carmichael Dental at 334-600-1423.