Want whiter teeth? Fruit mixture is not the answer

Want whiter teeth? Fruit mixture is not the answer

It may seem like an all-natural way to whiten teeth, but a study shows that a strawberry and baking soda mixture does little beyond cleaning those choppers. The main reason: Strawberries lack the chemicals known to cause deeper, longer lasting teeth whitening, researchers say.

Can you ditch the strips and dump the dentist for whiter teeth? From “The Dr. Oz Show” to YouTube videos, experts say you can reclaim those pearly whites simply by mixing fruit, such as strawberries, with some baking soda, and applying the all-natural concoction to your teeth.

Unfortunately not, says an University of Iowa dental researcher, who compared a homemade strawberry-baking soda recipe with other remedies, such as over-the-counter products, professional whitening, and prescribed whitening products.

The researcher, associate professor So Ran Kwon, found the strawberry and baking soda formula produced no whitening, other than removing superficial debris. The other methods, Kwon found, not only get rid of what you’ve eaten but also provide a deeper, and longer-lasting, effect.

“The only benefit of the do-it-yourself method (strawberries and baking soda) is while it seems to make your teeth look whiter, they look whiter because you’re just removing plaque accumulation on your teeth,” says Kwon, sole author on the study, published in the journal Operative Dentistry. “You really want something that penetrates into your teeth and breaks down the stain molecules. If you don’t have that, you get just the superficial, and not the whitening from the inside, which was what you really want.”

In her experiments, Kwon rubbed a mixture of California-grown, organic strawberries and baking soda on 20 recently extracted teeth for five minutes, followed by a gentle brushing. She repeated the routine three times over 10 days — much like the recommendations espoused by the pro-all-natural teeth-whitening experts.

The result: The teeth brushed with the strawberry-baking soda mixture showed no real whitening, based on two well-known color-measurement tests and evaluations with a spectrophotometer, Kwon reports.

Three other groups of 20 extracted teeth were subjected to other teeth-whitening procedures — mimicking teeth whitening at a dentist, a prescribed tooth-whitening regimen and whitening strips bought over the counter. All produced discernible whitening in the observational and instrumental tests, the study found.

The main reason why strawberries don’t work as teeth whiteners is their chemistry. They may taste great, but they’re utterly lacking in hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, key ingredients in tooth-whitening products, according to the American Dental Association. Apples and lemons, also popularly advocated as tooth whiteners, have no hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, suggesting their effectiveness as tooth whiteners would be limited as well, although Kwon did not directly test those fruits.

The strawberry-baking soda remedy had another downside: The mixture reduced the surface hardness of teeth, known as microhardness, by up to 10 percent, due to the erosive effect of citric acid in the fruit, Kwon reported in another study, published in June in the journal .

“These acids are not whitening agents,” says Kwon, currently in the UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, who performed the experiments while at Loma Linda University in California, “and that explains why we have those results.”


The Benefits of regular visits to the dentist

The Benefits of regular visits to the dentist

Your dentist can check for problems that you may not see or feel. Many dental problems don’t become visible or cause pain until they are in more advanced stages. Examples include cavities, gum disease and oral cancer. Regular visits allow your dentist to find early signs of disease.

Your dentist will decide how often they need to see you based on the condition of your mouth, teeth and gums. It could be as short as three months, but if you have no current problems, your dentist might not need to see you for up to two years


Really?: Adding Milk to Tea Destroys its Antioxidants

Really?: Adding Milk to Tea Destroys its Antioxidants

Those who prefer a bit of milk in their tea have a reason to smile: according to research from the University of Alberta, a splash of dairy in a cup of tea can help keep teeth pearly white.

Ava Chow, an assistant professor at the university’s school of dentistry, originally designed the project as a way to introduce undergrad students to research.

Using samples that had already been extracted from the mouth, Chow and her students compared the colour of teeth before and after soaking them in tea for 24 hours.

“Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world and the way it’s processed effects how teeth are stained. The more the tea is processed or oxidized, the higher its staining properties are,” Chow said in a new release “But we’ve found that the addition of milk to tea reduces the tea’s ability to stain teeth.”

One batch of teeth were kept in a controlled solution of tea, while another batch were kept in a solution that was 20 per cent milk, 80 per cent tea. Both samples were kept at 37 degrees for a full day.

The teeth kept in milky tea, Chow said, showed significantly less staining.

“The magnitude of the colour change observed in our experiments is comparable to the colour change seen by vital bleaching products and more effective than whitening toothpastes,” she said.

The results — which appear in the International Journal of Dental Hygeine — may be clear, but also tough for some to stomach, Chow said.

“Adding milk to tea is a culture-specific phenomenon,” she said. “Some cultures may refuse to add it and others only drink tea with milk.”