Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth

Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth

Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth

Oil pulling has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent times as natural remedies become more common. But is it an effective teeth-whitening technique, and why do teeth become yellow in the first place?

Why Do Teeth Become Yellow?

As we get older, it’s natural for our teeth to become discoloured and slightly more yellow as various factors from food and drink to injury or smoking can contribute to the yellowing of the teeth. Someone who had a strict diet of white rice, cauliflower, egg whites and milk all their life is going to have much whiter teeth than someone who regularly eats spices, tomato-based sauces and drinks red wine, but ultimately, no one will keep naturally bright white teeth for their whole life.

There are also two types of tooth staining: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic tooth staining refers to discolouration on the outer surface of teeth, often caused by external factors such as foods, beverages, or smoking. Intrinsic tooth staining occurs when the inner structure of the tooth, the dentin, becomes discoloured, typically due to factors like medication, trauma, or excessive fluoride intake during tooth development, making it much harder to treat.

Common ways teeth become yellow include:

  • Food and drink staining (especially coffee, tea, red wine, berries, soy sauce and curries)
  • Tobacco use (the tar and nicotine stick to the enamel causing a yellow or brown appearance)
  • Genetics (some people are genetically predisposed to have naturally more yellow teeth)
  • Medication use (some medicines cause intrinsic staining of the teeth)
  • Dental trauma (sometimes injuries to the teeth can lead to intrinsic staining)
  • Poor oral hygiene (not effectively cleaning teeth can cause plaque build-up and tooth decay)

With so many factors affecting tooth colour, it’s normal for teeth to lose their whiteness as we age. However, the best way to prevent yellowing of the teeth is by maintaining a healthy diet and good oral hygiene practices.

In some cases, however, to reverse the effects of yellowing, teeth whitening is the only option. But do you need to see a dentist or are there natural ways to whiten your teeth?

Are There Natural Ways to Whiten Teeth?

Are There Natural Ways to Whiten Teeth?

There are several popular natural remedies to whiten teeth, however, very few have any scientific backing, and none achieve the same results as professional teeth whitening treatments you can receive at a dental practice.

Some natural ways people commonly use for teeth whitening include:

  • Oil Pulling
  • Baking Soda
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Chewing Certain Fruits

Each of these methods is considered safe to try when done properly, however, the effectiveness of most is not supported by science. Baking soda is the most effective natural remedy as it has some mild abrasive properties and is often included in some toothpastes for whitening qualities as well as washing detergents to whiten clothing. However, like charcoal, when used alone to brush teeth, you may be doing more harm than good as they can be too harsh and remove the protective enamel on your teeth rather than just the extrinsic staining to lighten your teeth colour.

Fruits like strawberries and pineapple contain an enzyme that may help to whiten teeth and historically these fruits may have been effective teeth cleaners due to their fibrous nature before toothbrushes were invented. However, with modern medical knowledge and toothpastes, there is no evidence that either is effective at teeth whitening and certainly shouldn’t be used instead of any standard oral hygiene practices.

If you try a natural remedy, don’t expect dazzling or long-lasting results; if you want noticeably brighter or whiter teeth, professional teeth whitening treatments are the most effective and safe.

Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth?

Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth?

Oil pulling is a teeth-cleaning technique that has been used for up to 5000 years, originating in Hindu, Ayurvedic practices, and now serving as a popular teeth-whitening method, although with limited scientific support. The practice of oil pulling involves swishing oil around the mouth for around 15 to 20 minutes to remove bacteria from the teeth, improving hygiene and giving them a lighter appearance.

Typically, coconut oil is used due to its antimicrobial properties from the high lauric acid content as well as the pleasant taste. However, sesame oil can also be used due to its taste and natural antioxidant content.

But does oil pulling actually whiten teeth? There is no scientific evidence that coconut oil does in fact whiten teeth, despite its use for several millennia. As with many ancient practices, oil pulling was likely one of the most effective methods for maintaining oral hygiene at the time of its origin, however, with scientific and medical advancements, oil pulling is significantly less effective compared to brushing with fluoride toothpaste, using dental floss and using hydrogen peroxide to lighten the colour of our teeth.

Most Effective Teeth Whitening Treatments

Most Effective Teeth Whitening Treatments

So if natural remedies are ineffective, what are the best ways to whiten teeth?

There are a few ways to have your teeth whitened professionally each varying in cost and effectiveness, including:

  • Laser teeth whitening
  • Professional bleaching
  • Custom-made trays for home use
  • Teeth whitening strips

Depending on the severity of the discolouration as well as the sensitivity of your teeth, your dentist will recommend one method of teeth whitening over another for you to achieve your desired results.

Laser teeth whitening is the most effective teeth whitening treatment as a special chemical gel is applied to your teeth in the dental practice before a laser is shone onto the gel to enhance and speed up the lightening process. This can greatly whiten badly stained teeth, but you can also choose a shade of white/ cream before your treatment if you want a more natural look rather than a Hollywood smile.

Professional bleaching is a similar process, where a dentist will use a peroxide gel to cover your teeth and lighten them, however, without the laser. This may take several sessions to achieve the whiteness you desire but can provide noticeable results after only one session.

To whiten your teeth from the comfort of your home, dentists can take a custom mould of your teeth so you can fill it with the whitening gel and cover your teeth at home for 30-60 minutes, or overnight, depending on the strength of the gel and your desired results.

Whitening strips are also available for purchase over the counter, however, these are the least effective teeth whitening method, so only suitable for minor touch-ups. As they are not custom-made, they may also give an uneven appearance, leaving the areas where your teeth meet more yellow than the surface.

Is Teeth Whitening Expensive?

The price of teeth whitening can vary greatly in the UK depending largely on what method you choose. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic treatment so is not available on the NHS, so even if you have free NHS dental treatment, you will have to pay to have your teeth whitened.

Over-the-counter teeth-whitening products are the cheapest option as they are less effective and you can do them at home yourself, so range from £10 to £50 depending on the product. However, for professional teeth whitening treatments at a dental practice, you can pay anything from £100 to take a custom tray home, to £800 for laser treatment.

Is Teeth Whitening Good for Your Teeth?

Is Teeth Whitening Good for Your Teeth?

When done under the supervision of a dentist, teeth whitening is perfectly safe as they will assess the health of your teeth before going ahead with any treatments. However, there is debate over whether teeth whitening is actively good for your teeth.

The main benefits of teeth whitening are:

  • Improved aesthetics
  • Improved confidence

As teeth whitening is non-invasive, it also doesn’t cause harm to your teeth or gums when done properly. However, you must have teeth whitening done professionally for your safety if you have sensitive teeth or gums, as the peroxide and laser may cause discomfort.

To actively prevent your teeth from yellowing badly and developing cavities, and prevent newly whitened teeth from spoiling, you need to maintain good oral hygiene practices including:

  • Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing once a day
  • Having regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning with a dental hygienist
  • Eating a low-sugar, balanced diet

Teeth Whitening Services from Didsbury Dental Practice

If you’d like your teeth whitened professionally, contact Didsbury Dental Practice today for more information.

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