Turmeric for Oral Health and Tooth Whitening?

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On a daily basis, dental professionals hear about strange home remedies for tooth and gum health and whitening ranging from coconut oil to charcoal, and now turmeric. Turmeric is a bright yellow root often used in cooking, but it has also been used for medicinal purposes.

Although generations have used turmeric as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent, no clinical findings are available stating its effectiveness or safety. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of turmeric are thought to promote the reduction of inflammation and harmful bacteria in the mouth. The abrasiveness of turmeric is assumed to be the whitening property.

There are several ways to incorporate the use of turmeric for oral health and whitening. It’s available through pastes, teas, mouthwash, and chewing gums. The most common use is pastes sold in stores and on the internet, but many people prefer to make their paste from turmeric powder, baking soda, and coconut oil. People report that the paste tastes horrible and stains everything.

What do dental professionals think of using turmeric for oral health and whitening? Most are not recommending these products for several reasons including:

  • Abrasiveness- Turmeric is very abrasive. Using a high-level abrasive twice per day for any length of time is detrimental to the enamel.
  • Staining- Turmeric stains everything it touches. It also stains the teeth after brushing or chewing it for up to an hour after use making it inconvenient to be around other people until the staining fades.
  • No fluoride- Most, if not all, turmeric products don’t contain any fluoride. Fluoride is essential in the prevention of cavities and using products without it greatly increases the incidence of decay.
  • Contraindications- individuals with gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal disease, and blood disorders shouldn’t use an abundance of turmeric because it can cause problems such as increased bile production, increased acid production, and clotting difficulties.
  • Lack of clinical studies- there are no verified clinical studies based on the effectiveness or safety with the use of turmeric for oral health and whitening.
  • Whitening success- for teeth to whiten, there has to be an oxidant effect by hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, and neither is Turmeric relies on abrasiveness to achieve whitening, and that can be destructive to enamel.

Although turmeric is popular, no clinical findings state its effectiveness or safety. We do know that because turmeric is highly abrasive, it’s certainly not safe to use long-term. The best way to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth white is to visit your dentist at least every six months for a cleaning and exam and follow their recommendations for home care products and whitening. 

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