Why pay for teeth whitening treatments at the dentist when you can rub charcoal all over your teeth for the same effect? If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen ads for these charcoal powders and toothpastes more than a few times. It can be tempting to give them a try—what do you have to lose, right? Well, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but not only do most natural and home remedies for teeth whitening not work, they can also do damage to your teeth, leaving you worse off than when you started.
Here’s the scoop on natural teeth whitening methods.
Let’s continue the discussion on charcoal. The theory about charcoal is that the gritty texture will scrub away stains and the absorbent qualities of charcoal will remove “toxins” from the mouth. There is no evidence that charcoal is an effective teeth whitener or that it’s safe at all. There’s no evidence that activated charcoal can detox the mouth, either.
The abrasiveness of charcoal may temporarily result in whiter teeth, but use it often enough and you’re scrubbing off the enamel of your teeth, which results in a yellow appearance. Charcoal toothpastes, powders, and whitening treatments can ultimately do more harm than good when it comes to whitening.
Have you heard of oil pulling? The practice hails from India, where it has been used in folk medicine to clean the mouth and detox the body. Oil pulling involves using oil in a way similar to mouthwash—but for a lot longer.
Coconut oil is a popular choice, but sesame and sunflower oil are more traditional choices. Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and “pull” it through your teeth by swishing. Continue to do this for 15 to 20 minutes.
Oil pulling has been found to decrease bacteria in the mouth, but as far as whitening goes, all the evidence is anecdotal. That said, it’s easy to see how 20 minutes of oil pulling would result in less plaque on the teeth and perhaps a brighter smile. Unlike with activated charcoal, there’s no risk involved in oil pulling and you likely already have oil on hand in the kitchen pantry, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses
Vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect your home; the same acetic acid that cuts away grease on your stovetop can be used to remove stains on your teeth. Unfortunately, it also removes enamel in the process. Just as with charcoal, wearing away the enamel ultimately results in yellower teeth.
If you do use an apple cider vinegar rinse, it should be diluted heavily and you should do another rinse of plain water afterwards. But realistically, there’s probably no good reason to use apple cider vinegar to rinse your mouth.
Strawberry and Baking Soda Scrub
This may seem like a random pairing, but the thought is that the malic acid in strawberries removes deep discoloration on the teeth and the baking soda buffs away stains. Unfortunately, the malic acid in strawberries is not strong enough to penetrate the teeth and remedy yellowing. Baking soda does scrub away stains, but it can also scrub away enamel.
That said, this combination does produce some whitening—it’s just much less effective than commercially available whitening treatments. It’s also important to use this natural whitening method with caution so as not to wear away tooth enamel.