If you're a fan of natural health, you might have heard this popular myth: crushing up strawberries, mixing them with baking soda, and smearing the resulting paste all over your teeth can give you a whiter smile. The idea is that the malic acid that is naturally present in the fruit can dissolve stains from tooth enamel, leaving teeth white and shiny. However, the truth about this natural remedy is far more sinister.
Putting Strawberries to the Test
The first reason not to use strawberries to whiten your teeth is that it simply doesn't work. In a study carried out at the University of Iowa, researchers used recently extracted teeth to test the strawberry and baking soda method that many websites recommend for whitening teeth. None of the teeth became noticeably whiter as a result of the treatment. Even when the researchers used instruments to measure the exact shade of the teeth, they couldn't find any evidence of whitening.
Are Strawberries Safe for Teeth Whitening?
The second reason for avoiding strawberries as a teeth whitening method is that they could actually damage your teeth. In the study conducted at the University of Iowa, researchers found that teeth were 10 percent softer after the natural treatment was carried out. They concluded that this softening occurred because the malic acid in the strawberries reacted with tooth enamel to make it more vulnerable to abrasion. This softening makes it possible for the abrasive particles present in baking soda to wear away tooth enamel, which could leave teeth sensitive and put them at greater risk of decay.
What About Other Natural Teeth Whitening Remedies?
Natural health websites are awash with natural teeth whitening solutions. Some are fairly innocuous, although unlikely to be effective, such as swishing coconut oil around the mouth. However, many natural teeth whitening remedies involve using acidic substances to remove stains, such as lemons, limes or apple cider vinegar. These remedies are all potentially harmful, as acids can damage tooth enamel.
Safer Alternatives For Whiter Teeth
To whiten your smile without putting your dental health at risk, it's best to use a product that has been tested and approved for whitening teeth. Many toothpastes, mouthwashes, whitening strips and gels are available. If you're looking for instant results, the most effective approach is to ask your dentist about in-office teeth whitening. During this carefully controlled procedure, a cosmetic dentist uses approved chemicals to gently strip away stains and leave your teeth both white and healthy.