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Does Turmeric Stain Teeth?

Updated: Jan 16

It is undeniable that turmeric stains your teeth because it has a naturally intense yellow color, which is on the opposite side of the spectrum for white teeth. According to the inviolable rule of mixing colors, if you mix yellow with white, the result will not be white.

This article will explain what is turmeric and where you might encounter it. Then we'll go into depth about how and why turmeric stains your teeth. Nonetheless, it is still a food that has many benefits and why you shouldn't exclude it from your life.

Table of Contents:

What is tumeric?

Turmeric or Curcuma, is a flowering plant of the ginger family with an intense yellow to orange color. It is very popular in asian cuisines because it is often used as one of the base ingredients for curry. Another popular use for it is as a coloring dye.

turmeric and turmeric powder
Credit: Simon A. Eugster

Base ingredient for curry

Turmeric is an essential ingredient for making various curry dishes and it is a major contributing to the orange-yellow color of the curry! In case you were curious, here is a delicious recipe by getinspiredeveryday for turmeric chicken coconut curry.

turmeric chicken coconut curry
Credit: getinspiredeveryday

This specific recipe calls for 1.5 teaspoons of turmeric and that is what contributes to the vibrant color of the dish.

We would also like to emphasize that they also made a note on the bottom of the page, which specifically says:

Be careful with anything that has turmeric in it as it stains things, (including your spoons and spatulas) easily!

We're just going to leave that there as supporting evidence for how it can stain your teeth!

Turmeric as a dye

Another popular use for turmeric is as a coloring dye, where it is used for various fabrics and t-shirts. Due to the vibrant color, it often makes for a fun project. You basically need to boil a pop with turmeric and then add whatever piece of fabric of clothing you want into it. After letting it steep for awhile, you'll have a piece of turmeric stained fabric.

Here is a video demonstrating the use of turmeric as a fun fabric dye:

How does turmeric stain your teeth?

An absolute rule of coloring is that when you add a color to a white object, it will stain it to the color that you're adding. Since turmeric is not white and it is a vibrant orange to yellow, adding it to anything white will make it turn orange-yellow.

In case you wanted to know if whatever food that you're eating can stain your white teeth, simply smear it on a white t-shirt. If it can stain the white t-shirt then it can stain your pearly white teeth.

Turmeric will stain that t-shirt and it will also stain your teeth. The only foods, which do not stain your teeth are the ones that have no coloring in them.

How do teeth stain?

Your teeth stains because the surface of your enamel is porous and it is not completely flat or even. These grooves or porous areas can trap stains. Once they become embedded into the enamel, they cannot be removed by brushing. The only way to loosen and get rid of the stains is by chemically oxidizing them.

Since turmeric has such an intense color, it makes for a very potent turmeric teeth stain. The coloring will get embedded into the pores of your enamel.

If you wanted evidence, you should check out the video above about how it can be used to stain fabrics. It produces beautiful fabric colors but that is counter productive to what we want for our teeth, which is bright white.

Benefits of tumeric and why you would use it

Even though turmeric may not be a cosmetically desirable color for teeth, it does produce beautifully colored dyed fabrics. Aside from cosmetics, there are also many other alleged benefits for using tumeric.

  • Decreases inflammation

  • Improves memory

  • Decreases pain

  • Fights free radicals

  • Fights heart disease

  • Fights depression

  • Prevents cancer

What we're trying to say is that just because it stains teeth, it does not mean you should avoid it completely in your life. It can help you in other ways.

The Verdict

Turmeric can certainly stain your teeth since it is not colorless because only colorless foods won't stain your teeth. This food is what gives curry its vibrant color and it is also what is used to dye fabrics into a beautiful orange-yellow color.

If the food can stain your white rug, it will stain your white enamel. Therefore, if you care a lot about how your teeth look, you may want to minimize the amount of this food that you consume. Although it may be hard to do so because there are just so many yummy curries out there.

If you're unable to or don't want to minimize the intake of curcumin, you can periodically try whitening your teeth to stave off the tooth staining. There are many ways to whiten your teeth at home via DIY methods. However, if you're not getting any results from home remedies, you can always try professional teeth whitening with your dentist.


David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

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!

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