I’ve never been a big fan of over-the-counter tooth whitening products. Like everyone else who has ever set foot into a drugstore, I dabbled with whitening strips a few years back, but they were just too harsh for my sensitive teeth.
But after years of drinking too much coffee, my teeth have seen whiter days. So when I heard that turmeric acts as a natural tooth whitener, my ears perked up. Could this possibly be true? How could turmeric whiten your teeth when it stains—if you have ever cooked with it before you know what I am talking about—everything else?
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A quick Google search turned up dozens of natural toothpaste recipes containing turmeric. After consulting a few, I settled on my own mix of two parts coconut oil, one part turmeric and one part baking soda. I wasn’t ready to give up my minty traditional toothpaste quite yet, so I decided to use my toothpaste concoction in the morning and stick with my regular paste at night.
Day One: In the morning, I mixed up a batch into a paste and transferred it to a small container to use over the duration of a week. I smeared some of the paste onto my toothbrush and started to “brush” my teeth. (Coconut oil has a very low melting point, so the paste becomes a liquid as soon as your body heat comes into contact.) After brushing, I dipped my brush back into the paste and “painted” a thin coating on my teeth. I let it sit for approximately two minutes so the turmeric had time to work its magic. I then spit it out and did a final brush.
Initial thoughts: Was my breath minty fresh? No. But I use turmeric via cooking/smoothies on a daily basis so I didn’t mind the peppery aftertaste. So I decided to kick it up a notch and add a drop of peppermint essential oil to the mix for the rest of the week. I repeated the brushing process the next day. WOW! Essential oils are no joke. My mouth tingled and the minty aftertaste definitely rivaled that of my regular toothpaste. I continued the morning routine for an entire week.
By Week’s End: Did my coffee stains magically disappear? No. I have to admit my teeth did not look significantly whiter and my coffee stains were still staring back at me. But I did notice a subtle difference in the brightness of my teeth and the minty aftertaste—thanks to the peppermint oil—that definitely lingered far longer than my regular toothpaste. Another huge selling point: No sensitivity!
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Now for the bad part: It was messy. I found myself cleaning (or, more accurately, scrubbing) my sink daily. Turmeric is bright yellow and stains everything in sight. If you do decide to try it, use a cheap toothbrush; it’s not worth ruining your expensive electric toothbrush over.
While I’m not ready to quit my regular toothpaste just yet, I do plan to continue using the turmeric paste occasionally. The professional take: “Although coconut oil is a trendy ingredient right now, as a dentist, I always recommend traditional toothpaste,” says New York cosmetic dentist Timothy Chase, DDS. “Using coconut oil and turmeric won’t provide you with the fluoride your teeth need. Plus, if you are looking to brighten your smile, only whitening toothpaste will be able to provide that.”