Whether you're reading fashion and style blogs, frugal living websites or watching daytime TV, there always seems to be a new, bizarre way to get a whiter smile. People have sung the praises of everything from strawberries to charcoal to whiten teeth. But do these options actually work? Or would you be better off working with your dentist or using an over-the-counter product to get a whiter smile?
Strawberry Teeth Whitening
Do a quick search online and you'll come across tons of how-to's claiming that you can use strawberries mixed with baking soda to get a whiter smile. Strawberry teeth whitening seems like a simple and tasty way to improve your smile, but the truth is, it won't do too much to whiten your teeth.
Dr. So Ran Kwon, an associate professor and dental researcher at the University of Iowa, put the strawberry teeth whitening method to the test. In her study, published in 2015 in Operative Dentistry, she rubbed a mixture of crushed strawberries and baking soda over 20 pulled teeth, three times a day, for 10 days. The berry-baking soda mixture sat on the teeth for five minutes, before Kwon brushed it away. During the study, she found that the mixture helped remove plaque and surface debris from teeth, creating the illusion of a whiter smile. But the mixture didn't actually do any bleaching.
Other Weird Teeth Whitening Methods
Charcoal Teeth Whitening
Charcoal is another trendy so-called tooth whitener. The claim is that brushing with activated charcoal powder absorbs stains and bacteria, making teeth whiter. But, as FOX News reports, there are a few reasons to skip using charcoal to whiten teeth. For one thing, it's not clear how abrasive charcoal is and how much it can damage your teeth's enamel.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs notes that the American Dental Association (ADA) has yet to weigh in on the effects of using charcoal to get a brighter smile. Until there have been more studies on charcoal's safety and effectiveness, it's best to leave it on the grill and stick with proven whiteners instead.
Oil Pulling for Teeth Whitening
Another natural whitening and oral hygiene trend to make the rounds is the practice of oil pulling. Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil through your teeth for as long as 20 minutes. The practice dates back to ancient India and people who practice it today claim that it helps improve their oral hygiene, prevent cavities and whiten their teeth.
While oil pulling most likely won't hurt you, it's not a suitable substitute for regular tooth brushing. It's also unlikely that you'll notice any lasting, dramatic change in the color of your teeth after oil pulling. As the ADA points out, there have yet to be any reliable studies showing that oil pulling is an effective way to whiten teeth or keep your mouth clean. Until studies show otherwise, it's best to keep on brushing and flossing.
People are always looking for a quick fix. When it comes to getting a brighter smile, though, it's best to stick with methods that have been tested and shown to work. Brush with a whitening toothpaste, such as Colgate Optic White High Impact White, which can result in four shades visibly whiter teeth. In addition, it's enamel-safe whitening that's good for daily use. Whitening toothpastes contain bleaching agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, as well as fluoride to help protect teeth from cavities.
If you're looking for dramatic results, consult your dentist. He or she can recommend over-the-counter products or in-office treatments that will get you the shiny, pearly whites you've been dreaming about.