Fact Vs. Fiction on Teeth Whitening

Coconut oil is delicious when used to sauté vegetables. But do you want to swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes? That’s just one of the many natural teeth whitening methods people ascribe to around the world. Some people believe this technique, also called oil pulling, works. Others swear by equally odd-sounding ideas to remove stains from their teeth, such as scrubbing them with mashed-up fruit or even charcoal. Do any of these actually pay off?

We know many of our patients and their parents are interested in achieving a brighter smile, so we looked at some of the most popular natural teeth-whitening methods to see what works and what doesn’t. You can use the answers to determine what’s best for your teeth and your kids’ teeth — but remember to always consult with your dentist before trying any radical new ideas.

Why Are My Teeth Yellow When I’m Brushing All the Time?

First, let’s address the issue of stains. Adults’ teeth can become stained over time for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with how frequently you brush, including:

  • Frequent consumption of staining drinks like red wine, tea and coffee
  • Erosion of enamel, which exposes the yellow-tinged dentin below
  • Smoking

Kids can also experience tooth staining thanks to certain medications.

Enamel of permanent teeth is also less white compared to baby teeth. Enamel of baby teeth is usually a bright white color. When side by side, this can make permanent teeth appear more yellow.

Now that you know why brushing alone may not solve your teeth whitening problem, let’s take a look at some of the crazy methods people resort to whiten their teeth.

Can I Whiten My Teeth With Charcoal?

You can find YouTube videos of people using activated charcoal — not that stuff from the barbecue pit! – to whiten their teeth. The adhesive properties of charcoal are said to bind to the staining material and remove it from your teeth. But dentists who work with teeth professionally warn that the abrasive properties of charcoal can also remove the enamel that protects your teeth.

Can Fruit and Baking Soda Really Whiten Teeth?

Many fruits, such as oranges and strawberries, are acidic, and so people believe mixing them with baking soda will make a paste strong enough to remove stains. However, the longer you leave this paste on your teeth, the greater the potential damage to your enamel, which the acid will wear away.

Can a Banana Peel Whiten My Teeth?

Rubbing a banana peel on your pearly whites is another method that’s been ascribed miraculous powers. Devotees claim the banana infuses minerals into the teeth that strengthen and then whiten them, but this hasn’t been proven.

Is It Bad to Brush Your Teeth With Baking Soda?

Like charcoal, baking soda is abrasive. When you brush with it, it can remove enamel from your teeth just like many of the other methods mentioned here. That results in less protection for vulnerable teeth, especially in children.

How Can I Whiten My Teeth Naturally?

Your best bet for natural teeth whitening? A simple approach emphasizing consistent oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing. The health of your teeth is more important than the color, after all. And if you feel self-conscious about your yellow chompers, remember that in ancient Japan, people used to blacken their teeth as a sign of beauty! — The beauty of the teeth truly is in the eye of the beholder.

There are many safe, scientifically proven methods to successfully whiten your teeth under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist or orthodontist. Furthermore, there are also many over-the-counter products that can be helpful too. It is important to look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval when purchasing a product on your own.


This blog provides general information and discussion about dentistry and other health related topics. The opinions and content expressed on this blog are for general conversational purposes only and should not be interpreted as dental or medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a dental or medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dentist, physician or other health care provider.

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