DIY Tooth Whitening: Does It Work?

Everybody wants a brighter smile, but there are a number of things that stain or dull your teeth, including coffee, red wine, smoking, and certain medications. Because these changes to the color of teeth are common, it sometimes seems like everyone has a DIY tooth whitening suggestion. But do any of them really work? Take a look at what you need to know about some commonly-touted home remedies for whiter teeth.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil around in the mouth for anywhere from 10-30 minutes. The practice comes from the Ayurvedic belief that oil is nourishing for all parts of the body. This is an ancient belief, but proponents of natural health remedies have contributed to a new wave of interest in the practice. But can it whiten teeth?

Like many DIY remedies, oil pulling has not been the subject of many research studies, so it’s difficult to say exactly what it can or can’t do. But it’s unlikely that oil pulling can have any effect on tooth whiteness. Swishing oil around in the mouth for an extended time period may be able to help with plaque removal, but there’s no reason to believe it can affect stains.

Activated Charcoal

Another DIY tooth whitening recommendation involves brushing teeth with activated charcoal powder. In fact, toothpastes made with activated charcoal are starting to become more popular. Activated charcoal does have many beneficial uses – doctors use it to treat poisonings and overdoses, and it is also used in air filters to remove impurities from the air.

Advocates of brushing with activated charcoal claim that the substance can remove impurities that stain the teeth. Whether or not that’s true is unclear. However, experts warn that brushing with an abrasive material like charcoal could weaken enamel and damage gum tissue.

If you want whiter teeth, your best bet is to consult your dentist. Your dentist will be able to recommend a whitening treatment that meets your needs and is both safe and effective.