Can Milk Whiten Your Teeth?

Unfortunately, drinking milk will not whiten your teeth. Milk can't mechanically remove extrinsic stains nor chemically oxidize intrinsic stains. Due to a lack of both properties, it is not possible for milk to make your teeth whiter.


In addition to that, even if milk could whiten your teeth, our dentists would not recommend using it to do so. Milk contains a lot of sugars and that may lead to tooth decay rather than whiter teeth.


This article will explain in depth about how milk cannot whiten your teeth and what the consequences would be if you attempted to do so.



Table of Contents:



Can milk whiten your teeth by removing extrinsic stains?

The most common way that whitening products make your teeth less yellow is by mechanically abrading away extrinsic stains. Essentially it requires physical contact from rubbing the whitening product into the external stain that is on the surface of your enamel. This is how toothpaste will whiten your teeth.


The mechanical removal of these external stains is akin to scrubbing a surface with a sponge. You're removing the layer of stains which is covering the surface.


Based on this property alone, milk cannot remove extrinsic stains from the surface of your enamel. Most people simply drink the milk and the liquid only comes into brief contact with your tooth. Therefore, drinking milk will not mechanically abrade away surface stains.


Brushing milk onto your enamel

Although you may make the argument that you can simply use a toothbrush to brush the milk onto your teeth... Studies have shown that calcium carbonate can be an effective abrasive system to remove extrinsic stains.


You can brush the milk but we would have to say that would be hazardous to the health of your teeth. The reason being milk contains a lot of sugar and if you purposefully rub sugar into your enamel, you will end up with cavities. Therefore, we cannot recommend such an action.



Can milk whiten your teeth by removing intrinsic stains?

The second way that whitening products brighten your teeth is by chemically oxidizing the deeply embedded intrinsic stains on your enamel. The only two substances which have the ability to do this are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.


Unfortunately, milk does not contain either of those two whitening ingredients. This means that milk lacks the ability to chemically oxidize intrinsic stains. The oxidation of stains is what we traditionally think of as changing the color of your teeth to white from yellow.


Products which DO contain whitening ingredients:

  • Whitening strips

  • Whitening pens

  • Ready to wear trays

  • Take home products by your dentist

  • In-office whitening sessions at your dentist



Consequences of whitening teeth with milk

Since milk cannot whiten your teeth by removing extrinsic and intrinsic stains, there is really no sense in trying to use it to do so. Although if you insist on attempting to use milk for this, it may cause unintended consequences such as tooth decay.


Milk may be good for your teeth in the sense that it provides calcium to build strong bones and teeth. However, it also contains a lot of sugar which is the ingredient necessary to cause cavities in your teeth. This means that milk can be good and bad for your teeth at the same time.


Sugar content of some brands of whole milk:


In case you wanted more evidence, there is a condition called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, which occurs in babies who drink milk and fall asleep while doing so. Fallen asleep babies while feeding will bath their teeth in milk. The sugar within the milk eventually cause cavities and rotten teeth. All mothers of newborns are advised to never let this happen because it can ruin their child's teeth!


Here is a video by Dr Suheily Aponte on how to prevent milk from rotting your child's teeth:




In conclusion, there are much more effective ways to whiten your teeth. These alternative ways are also safer and less likely to cause cavities. If you really wanted pearly white chompers, you should check out our guide on how to whiten teeth.



Does drinking milk make your teeth whiter?

To summarize, drinking milk will not whiten your teeth because it lacks the ability to mechanically remove extrinsic stains and chemically oxidize intrinsic stains.


However, what milk will do is supply your body with a healthy dose of calcium, which is needed for building strong teeth. Although if you forget to brush your teeth afterwards, the sugar in milk may cause tooth decay instead.


Therefore, it is of utmost importance to maintain your oral hygiene if you plan on drinking a lot of milk!

  • Brush for at least two minutes after drinking milk.

  • Floss your teeth if you have time.

  • Use a mouthwash like Listerine or even regular water for at least one minute.


Nonetheless, if you really wanted to whiten teeth you should try some of the other ways to do it. Milk really isn't the best way to attain whiter teeth. If you're really unsure, you can always ask your dentist.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!