Is Turmeric Teeth Whitening A Tiktok Fad Or Does It Really Work?

Is Turmeric Teeth Whitening A Tiktok Fad Or Does It Really Work?

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Medical Reviewed on Oct 17, 2023
byDr. Matthew Hannan DDS
🔬 Evidence Based
Is Turmeric Teeth Whitening A Tiktok Fad Or Does It Really Work?

Turmeric teeth whitening: not three words you typically hear me say together. In fact, I’d never even heard of turmeric for teeth whitening until I started to see TikTok videos floating around about brushing with turmeric or combining it with coconut oil for whiter teeth. So of course, I had to check it out!

What is Turmeric? 

Turmeric is a spice that’s known for—get this—dying fabric orange. I know, right? How can something known for staining fabric orange whiten your teeth? Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in places like India as a spice as well as a medicinal herb, but it’s not routinely used in dentistry as a means of whitening your teeth. Since we’ve already established that oil pulling or coconut oil doesn’t really whiten teeth either, let’s focus on turmeric teeth whitening on its own. You know I love research, so I’m going to dig into the literature on this one and find out if it’s scientifically proven to whiten teeth or not.

Turmeric Teeth Whitening Does It Work? 

In all of the dental literature that I’ve found, turmeric is only mentioned in “may” or “might” phrases. Not “shown” or “proven” verbiage. In fact, the American Dental Association actually goes as far as to say that—point blank—there is no scientific evidence that turmeric whitens teeth. 

In fact, the only mention of using turmeric for anything dental-related is for antimicrobial purposes, which has nothing to do with whitening teeth.

I tried it myself, and word to the wise, brushing with turmeric dyed my gums yellowish-orange instead of making my teeth any whiter. Since we know it’s used to dye fabric, it’s no shock my gums changed colors during the process.

No. Turmeric teeth whitening is not effective and it does not work. Why bother scrubbing with an orange-colored spice when you could just use an affordable product from the supermarket?

Can Turmeric Whiten Teeth?

No. Even according to the ADA there is zero evidence to show that turmeric can whiten your teeth or even take the edge off of your dental staining. The only remote concept I can come up with is maybe someone thinking that scrubbing with the powder helps remove buildup from your teeth. But so does toothpaste. If you have visible dark buildup that needs to be cleaned off, that’s not a teeth whitening or turmeric thing, that’s an oral hygiene issue. 

I’d actually be concerned about the orange stain from turmeric soaking in around your white fillings or veneers. If that happened, your tooth would look orange or yellow as opposed to white. 

Benefits of Turmeric for Oral Health?

Now that we’ve established turmeric isn’t a teeth whitening product, what about using it for other oral health purposes? 

It’s possible that even though turmeric won’t whiten teeth, it can benefit your gingival (gum) health in other ways. For instance, there is some history of people using turmeric for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, and antimicrobial capabilities, among others. Hypothetically speaking, if you were to brush or rinse with a turmeric-based product, it “could” help with gingivitis and/or gum disease when combined with your other home care activities. But there is zero data to even hint that you’ll be whitening your teeth during the process.

What Does The Research Say? 

If you’ve ever had aggressive periodontal disease, your dentist probably prescribed a strong mouthwash called “chlorhexidine”. There is actually a scientific study that shows turmeric mouthwash “can” be just as effective as using this prescription mouth rinse. Again, this is for purposes related to gingival inflammation and bleeding, seen with gum disease, and not changing the color of your teeth. Although, fun fact of the day, chlorhexidine can stain your teeth if you use it for long periods of time.

There are several medical journals that reference the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. Down to the fact that it’s used for cancer treatments and managing diabetes. The cellular effects of the spice are, however, usually ingested as opposed to being rubbed directly onto something. So, it appears that it’s more of a supplement you’d swallow in pill or food form if you’re going to gain any of the potential benefits.

Side Effects Or Risks of Turmeric?

Hands down the biggest risk of trying to whiten your teeth with turmeric is that you’ll turn your gums yellow. Trust me, because I tried it. If you have composite bonding or same-day dental veneers, you might run the risk of your dental work getting stained too (and who wants to walk around with yellow teeth?!) It can actually burn your tongue and gums if you’re sensitive to it. There’s also the risk of it staining whatever you’re wearing if some of it drips onto your clothing. 

As far as abrasiveness goes, you always have to worry about micro-scratches and abrasion—the same as you would if you were brushing with straight-up baking soda—but there still isn’t much information out there about whether turmeric is “bad” for your enamel or not.

Just Use Proven Products 

Look. It’s cheaper and faster to just buy something like whitening strips at the store and use them. They work well and will give you proven results that you won’t have to guess about. Why bother scrubbing a yellow powder on your teeth day after day when you don’t even know if it will work or not, when you could have noticeably whiter teeth in a week or two with whitening strips? If you do want to use turmeric for your teeth, remember that the research out there only suggests it’s good for your gums and has nothing to do with your enamel.

Turmeric For Teeth Whitening Recap

Turmeric is a spice known for dying fabric orange and having anti-inflammatory properties. People have used it as a holistic agent for several centuries. But there is absolutely zero data out there to show that turmeric whitens your teeth. In fact, most of the research only talks about ingesting turmeric for anti-inflammation purposes as opposed to rubbing it on your gums. If you want whiter teeth, just use a whitening product that already has the ADA seal of approval and you’ll be way happier with the results.

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Dr. Matthew  Hannan DDS
Medical Reviewed byDr. Matthew Hannan DDSDr. Matthew Hannan is a board-certified dentist and graduate of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Last updated onOctober 24, 2023Here is our process

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