The idea of whitening your teeth with turmeric may seem odd at first—after all, it is the spice that gives Indian curry (and everything else it touches) its vivid yellow-orange color—but turmeric has also been used as a natural teeth whitener in India and other parts of the world for many years.
Turmeric’s antimicrobial properties benefit oral health as a cleansing agent for the gums, and its vitamin content regulates the minerals in the teeth. Not to mention, turmeric is a favorite of natural health junkies for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Yorktown Heights dentist, Dr. Lerner, would like to discuss turmeric as an all-natural remedy to whiten teeth.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a native Asian plant in the ginger family. It is a mild abrasive that contains curcumin, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Controlling inflammation is the key to treating and alleviating many health conditions, including gum disease.
Despite its potential for good, curcumin does not absorb into the bloodstream well—so just using turmeric to enhance the flavor of your food is unlikely to have much of an effect beyond making a meal taste spicy and look more colorful. For a person to experience the full benefits of curcumin, they would need to ingest turmeric extract that contained the curcumin compound, which is available in supplements and teas.
What Does Turmeric Do?
Because of its curcumin content, turmeric has the potential to control inflammation on a molecular level. While short-term inflammation can be beneficial to the body, long-term, low-level inflammation has been shown to cause heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, depression, and other chronic conditions.
The curcumin in turmeric also acts as a potent antioxidant. Due to its chemical makeup, curcumin protects the body by neutralizing free radicals while simultaneously boosting the body’s natural antioxidant production. Curcumin also boosts brain hormones responsible for fighting certain brain diseases and promotes healthy blood vessel function.
How Do I Whiten My Teeth with Turmeric?
Disclaimer: many folks are not fond of the way turmeric tastes by itself. A quick Google search of “how does turmeric taste” yields results like “pungent,” “powdery,” “somewhat earthy” and most frequently, “bitter.” You’ll have to weigh the results against the taste! Keep in mind you won’t get professional-quality results from any at-home or DIY teeth whitening treatment. Only a professional treatment can give you dramatic results, but a little turmeric could brighten your smile a few shades from the comfort of home!
Oil Pulling Products
Oil pulling involves swishing or “pulling” healthy oils like coconut oil in the mouth for 20 minutes to help draw out bacteria and toxins. Some oil pulling products and solutions contain turmeric. (Oil pulling is thought to not only whiten teeth but help with bad breath and dry mouth.)
Chew on Turmeric Root
This method is how turmeric teeth whitening began back in India! The key is to chew on a piece of turmeric root of a size that can be comfortably chewed. Rotate the root in your mouth while chewing to make sure you are using as many teeth as possible. Spit and rinse thoroughly.
Turmeric Teeth Whitening Paste
Turmeric teeth whitening paste is one of the most popular DIY methods. The abrasiveness of the turmeric is great for gently buffing surface stains off the teeth. To make turmeric teeth whitening paste, combine:
- 4 tablespoons of turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 5 tablespoons of coconut oil
Mix thoroughly. Brush your teeth with the mixture for 2-3 minutes as usual. Spit and rinse with water until the water coming out of your mouth is clear.
Potential Side Effects & Warnings
Potential Side Effects
Potential negative side effects from turmeric usually have one of two causes—a too-high dosage or turmeric powder that is not pure (has been mixed with other components).
- Due to its oxalate content, a high turmeric dosage may contribute to kidney stones. (High dosages can only come from supplements or extracts, NOT the use of turmeric as a teeth whitener or a meal ingredient!)
- Since not all commercial turmeric powders are pure, cheap additives can prove damaging or even toxic. Turmeric that includes wheat, rye or barley flour can cause an adverse reaction in those who suffer from celiac disease. The most alarming possibility is that turmeric powders that are not pure may also be in high in lead, which is toxic to the human nervous system.
Proceed with Caution
It is a good idea to consult your doctor before trying anything new, particularly if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are diabetic
- Have gallbladder issues
- About to have or just had surgery
- Have low testosterone
One word of caution when trying your own turmeric teeth whitening paste is to be careful and wear clothes you don’t care about, as turmeric is messy and WILL stain anything it comes into contact with. As with all DIY trends, nothing replaces professional teeth cleanings and regular oral hygiene, so brushing and flossing should continue, as should your regular dental visits.
If you are interested in a professional whitening treatment, that’s really your best option if you want dramatic results in a short amount of time. Yorktown Heights dentist, Dr. Lerner, and the The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry dental team would love to talk more with you about it. Schedule a visit with us today!