8 myths and facts about natural whitening
When it comes to teeth whitening, people across the world spend millions in a year on products alone. We all know the usual culprits that stain our teeth, such as smoking, drinking red wine and coffee, but what’s the truth behind natural teeth whitening foods?
Strawberries have an abundance of a ‘magic’ malic acid, which naturally cleans and whitens the teeth, even though they’re red. They do however contain citric acid, which can weaken the surface hardness of your teeth. But the riper the strawberry becomes, the higher the concentration of malic acid compared to the more harmful citric acid.
‘So if you use strawberries as a teeth whitener, choose a really ripe strawberry, rub it on your teeth and just like exfoliating the skin, it does remove superficial debris. The malic acid won’t actually break down the stain molecules, but the surface clean gives your teeth a whiter appearance.’
2. Coconut oil
The technique of using oil to rinse the mouth, also known as oil pulling, is likely to lessen the bacterial load in the mouth and has been shown to improve the health of the gums and whiten teeth.
‘It’s unique because it contains predominantly medium chain fatty acids of which 45 to 50 per cent is auric acid, which has proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Swishing the oil between your teeth can also dislodge and retained food particles.’
3. Green tea
Some experts say green tea will actually stain your teeth. ‘It contains plant compounds, known as tannins, which increase the staining potential. This means it is acidic and will break down the enamel on teeth. Once enamel is broken down, pigmented molecules can attach to your teeth easily, and this, of course, leads to stains.’
4. Baking soda
Baking soda is a natural teeth whitener. It can help to whiten teeth through its alkaline cleansing action, and is now included in many toothpastes. It is suggested to mix a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda with water and applying this to your teeth with your toothbrush.
Salmon can’t actually whiten your teeth, although it is recommended eating it to keep your teeth healthy. ‘Salmon is a good “white food” (ie it can be eaten after whitening), and it also contains calcium and vitamin D, which is good for healthy teeth and bones.’
Apples, much like strawberries, contain malic acid, and along with their abrasiveness can help to whiten teeth. ‘The mildly acidic nature and stringent quality of apples, combined with their rough, fibre-rich flesh, could help cleansing and brightening of teeth’.
7. Lemon juice
Citrus is cleansing and can help to maintain white teeth. But using lemon juice actually isn’t recommended as it’s very damaging to the tooth surface and can lead to increased sensitivity and staining as the enamel is worn away.
‘Lemon juice has been mixed with baking soda as a home-made whitening paste. But lemon juice is very acidic causing enamel erosion and the baking soda is very abrasive causing tooth wear.
Cheese can mechanically clean teeth as it’s a natural cleanser. It has the added bonus of strengthening the tooth enamel and structure due to it being high in calcium. But opt for hard cheeses, such as cheddar, and be careful of blue and soft cheeses, which can cause breath odour.