Updated: Aug 6
Have you heard about how strawberries can whiten your teeth? Who would've known that a simple fruit can get rid of stains and brighten your teeth. The question is, does it work and is it possibly harmful?
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How to whiten your teeth with strawberries:
The way to do it is fairly simple because you can acquire all of the ingredients at your local market. All you need are some strawberries and baking soda.
Mash up some strawberries with a fork.
Mix in some baking soda.
Apply the mixture to your teeth with a soft toothbrush.
Let the mixture marinade on your teeth for 5 minutes.
Brush your teeth with your usual toothpaste and floss to get rid of any strawberry residues.
Rinse your mouth out with mouthwash to get rid of any residual acids.
Enjoy your new white smile.
In case you wanted to watch a video instead, here is one showing you how to use strawberries for whitening:
So, what do you think? Do you want to give this new homemade cosmetic remedy a try?
Can strawberries whiten your teeth?
According to dental researchers at the University of Iowa, the homemade organic mixture of strawberries cannot whiten your teeth. This mixture can only remove superficial debris that is on your teeth and cannot penetrate beyond the surface layer of enamel like other professional dental whitening products.
The experiment tested the baking soda mixture on 20 extracted teeth 3 times each day over the course of 10 days total. The results were unimpressive and abysmal with no noticeable whitening effect on your teeth.
Where did the idea that strawberries can whiten your teeth come from?
Strawberries contain citric acid and malic acid, which can be used as an exfoliating ingredient for brightening your skin and the idea was that it can also be used to brighten your teeth. Unfortunately the malic acid isn't potent enough to penetrate past the outer enamel layer to remove more than just the surface stains on teeth.
However, your teeth do look whiter temporarily after using the mixture because you just removed plaque from the surface of your teeth. Although after an hour or so, your teeth will revert back to what it looked like before using it so the whitening effect of strawberries are short lasting.
If you didn't have any surface stains on your teeth prior to the procedure, this flurry of strawberry and baking soda mix will not whiten your teeth at all. Just to be clear, any toothpaste or baking soda paste will also give the same effect.
Is whitening your teeth with strawberries harmful?
Using strawberries to whiten your teeth is harmful because it can cause enamel erosion and tooth decay.
Strawberries contain malic acid, which can cause enamel erosion. Intentionally rubbing the acid on your teeth and then letting it sit on your enamel for over 5 minutes can cause some serious damage to your teeth. That is a lot of time for the acid to erode your enamel.
In addition to the malic acid causing enamel erosion, strawberries also naturally contain sugar, which makes it an instigator for tooth decay. Therefore, you're not only eroding the teeth but also causing cavities at the same time. That is one risk you should not be taking.
Critical pH and their effect on teeth
The critical pH level of the mouth is an important concept to understand in regards to the malic acid and sugar within strawberries.
Cavities and enamel erosion begin when the pH of the oral cavity drops below 5.5
Malic acid has a pH of 3.33 so it is potent enough to start dissolving enamel.
We would recommend checking out our hydroxyapatite toothpaste article to learn more about critical pH levels.
Therefore in addition to possibly causing enamel erosion, the malic acid will also create an environment that would be favorable to form cavities. We advise against using this method for whitening teeth due to the risks that are involved. It could potentially cause more damage to your teeth than what little benefit it can offer in return.
This is a picture of what enamel erosion looks like and what can possibly happen if you try to whiten with strawberries.
Alternative but safer whitening methods
If you want to effectively whiten your teeth but without the risk of causing enamel erosion, you should use vetted and already proven products.
Here are some common over the counter and professional teeth whitening products:
Whitening strips such as the Crest Whitening Strips
Take home whitening kits by your dentist
Professional in office bleaching
Any of these teeth whitening products will be safer for your teeth and will also be more effective in making them whiter. You can try the at home solutions first because if they work, that would be the simplest and most cost effective way. The professional solutions by your dentist are more effective than the at home products but they tend to be more expensive and also more sensitive for your teeth.
The reason why professional whitening products work is because they contain actual whitening ingredients that can change the color of your teeth.
These are the only two whitening agents that have been shown to be able to penetrate past the surface enamel layer to oxidize stains and brighten your teeth. If your home made solution does not contain either of these materials, then it probably won't whiten your teeth. The most your product could probably do is just remove surface plaque that has been stained.
In conclusion, our dentists would have to recommend against using strawberries to whiten your teeth because it is not effective nor is it beneficial. So, don't even bother trying this home remedy to get your teeth whiter. If you want to try something simple and easy, use a combination of whitening toothpaste along with the whitening strips at home instead. Not only would it be more effective, it'll also be safer for your enamel.
Although if you want a professional whitening solution, our LIC dentists recommend KoR whitening. The system first uses a 14 day take home kit followed by 3 rounds of 20 minute of in office sessions back to back. We promise you it will be significantly more effective than the strawberries for whitening.
Author: Written by Dr David Chen, a cosmetic dentist in long island city.