I've had my fair share of mishaps regarding whitening my teeth—extreme tooth sensitivity, saliva dribbling out of mouthpieces, and batteries running out mid-session. But I'm willing to go through the trouble because I love the results: Pearly whites and a glowing smile look good on everyone.
I'm always looking for new ways to whiten my teeth at home, especially natural, easy-to-find remedies. So when a friend suggested I try using turmeric as a whitener, it piqued my interest. Could such a bright spice really make my teeth whiter? To separate facts from fiction, I took my questions straight to the dental experts: Riddhi Gangolli, BDS, MS, Ph.D., and Peter Vanstrom, DDS. Read on for everything you need to know about whitening your teeth with turmeric.
Meet the Expert
Is It Safe to Whiten Your Teeth With Turmeric?
Turmeric is known for its medicinal properties. The ingredient is praised for being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, antiseptic, and antimutagenic. Because of these properties, turmeric is often found in skincare and hair care products that address everything from acne scars to dandruff and hair loss.
According to both doctors, turmeric is not known to cause tooth damage, and Gangolli says some studies have even shown that turmeric can reduce gum inflammation. And a 2012 study found that curcumin in turmeric can help prevent gingivitis and remove plaque, bacteria, and inflammation at a level comparable with traditional mouthwashes. So, in short, scientific evidence confirms it’s safe to care for your teeth with turmeric.
But here’s the thing: No reliable scientific evidence proves turmeric actually whitens teeth. (At least not yet.) In other words, the only proof we have to back up claims about turmeric’s whitening properties is purely anecdotal.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean turmeric doesn’t effectively whiten teeth, and it just means there are no studies that specifically analyze turmeric’s ability to whiten teeth. And while there’s certainly a good amount of anecdotal evidence, Vanstrom doubts: “Interestingly enough, in studies of foods that stain teeth yellow, turmeric spice is often included,” he says.
Who Should Avoid Whitening Their Teeth With Turmeric?
It should go without saying that anyone allergic to turmeric should avoid it. Otherwise, it’s generally safe for anyone to use. If you’ve got some time and are open to experimenting, go for it. Since there’s no hard evidence of its whitening effects, anyone looking for immediate, noticeable teeth whitening should probably look elsewhere.
Gangolli suggests that those interested in at-home whitening look into leading over-the-counter options, like SmileDirectClub’s Pro System Plus ($90) or Crest’s 3D Whitestrips Professional White Teeth Whitening Kit ($45). Vanstrom says he’s had great success whitening teeth with various strengths of hydrogen and carbamide peroxides at his practice in Atlanta and suggests looking into in-office treatments. For at-home care and maintenance, he suggests the Curaprox Black is White Toothpaste ($23).
How to Whiten Your Teeth With Turmeric
While neither doctor necessarily suggests using turmeric to try and whiten teeth, Vanstrom says that those who choose to usually apply it in a moistened powdery state, brushing it directly onto the tooth’s surface. He says there are also many combination ideas online that suggest mixing other natural remedies with turmeric.
The Final Takeaway
So, will brushing your teeth with turmeric make them whiter? Maybe. But if you’re looking for instant results, choose a more reliable, scientifically-backed option. Those options include in-office teeth whitening, hydrogen and carbamide peroxides, and at-home teeth whitening kits.
If you’re open to experimenting, though, go ahead and try turmeric out. (But bear in mind that it could potentially result in staining your teeth.) Just know that it should not be considered a solid replacement for overall oral care. Keep brushing, flossing, and rinsing as usual.
Nagpal M, Sood S. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013;4(1):3-7.
Mali AM, Behal R, Gilda SS. Comparative evaluation of 0.1% turmeric mouthwash with 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate in prevention of plaque and gingivitis: A clinical and microbiological study. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2012;16(3):386-391.