- There are plenty of DIY teeth-whitening hacks online, and one of the more popular ones involves whitening teeth using a paste made from strawberries
- Experts give the low-down on whether this home remedy actually works
Bloggers and influencers have long touted that strawberries are a natural remedy for teeth whitening. Some have even recommended using the fruit to make a whitening paste with baking soda, claiming its malic acid was a natural remedy.
Can strawberries really whiten your teeth? Gena Hamshaw, a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of “The Full Helping” blog, debunked the myth. She says the acids in strawberries may erode tooth enamel “especially if the strawberries come into contact with teeth for a prolonged period of time.”
Dr Ada S. Cooper, spokesperson for the American Dental Association, agrees. “The truth is the use of strawberries to whiten your teeth may actually do more harm than good,” Cooper says, adding the practice is “not advisable and is ineffective.”
A study published in 2015 in Operative Dentistry showed the idea that strawberries can serve as a healthy, effective remedy to whiten your teeth was misinformation. Researchers looked at 120 extracted molars split into six different groups for varying methods of teeth whitening and found that “DIY whitening was the least effective” method.
What happens when you apply strawberries to your teeth?
Cooper breaks down what happens when you apply strawberries to your teeth to try to whiten them.
“Strawberries contain citric acid which may give teeth a very temporary whiter appearance after you apply it,” she says. But that does not mean the stains on your teeth have been removed.
The acid from the berries breaks down your tooth enamel and causes dehydration. So, the teeth may temporarily appear whiter.
“Shortly after the tooth colour returns, making any benefit that it might provide to tooth whitening first of all negligible and secondarily very, very transient,” she says.
It’s an illusion. Your teeth may look whiter for an hour or so but that does not mean they are actually whiter.
“Strawberries don’t contain any ingredients that can actually lift stains off of the tooth structure,” Cooper says. “And that’s what’s necessary in order to whiten your teeth.”
If you want to whiten your teeth, see your dentist first
Cooper advises seeing your dentist before deciding on any whitening option whether you’re investigating tooth whitening paste, in-office treatments or take home treatments. Sometimes, whitening treatments will not actually work to fix discolouration of concern.
“Oftentimes, discolouration in the tooth structure can be caused by things that are not going to be corrected by tooth whitening like cavities and other problems,” she explains, noting a dentist would be able to help determine the proper course of treatment.
You can still eat strawberries
While strawberries are not a great option for teeth whitening, they aren’t going to hurt your teeth if you continue to eat them.
There’s a big difference between eating strawberries and placing them to sit on the tooth structure to whiten your teeth.
“When you eat strawberries, strawberries are exposed to your tooth structure for a very limited period of time,” Cooper says. “So, the citric acid does not have an opportunity to erode the tooth structure.”
On top of limited exposure, your saliva contains properties that can neutralise acids, according to Cooper. Those factors minimise the damage that citric and other acids found within strawberries can cause.