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