Curious about alternative teeth whitening options.

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I try to be holistic-minded in the foods we eat and products we use. I have been wanting to get my teeth whitened for months now. However, I am hesitant to move forward with teeth whitenings like Zoom or any products used at the dentist because they are not all-natural.

One of the methods I’m researching is lemons and oranges. I have heard that the essential oils for these fruits or peels rubbed on your teeth consistently will whiten teeth. Have you heard of this technique? I am curious if you have heard if patients have seen results.

-Shannon in California


The tooth whitening method you have described is gaining popularity on many holistic, natural-focused websites. However, don’t believe everything you read. It is not a good idea to use oils or peels from acidic fruit. You may end up doing permanent, irreversible damage to your teeth. It’s not worth it.

Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

There are two main types of tooth discoloration – intrinsic and extrinsic. Think of it as internal and external. Either the discoloration is coming from within the tooth or outside on the surface of the tooth.

For example, medications can cause teeth to become discolored. This would come from inside the tooth. Also, if a tooth dies it will become gray and discolored. If the tooth enamel is worn down due to over-brushing, age, exposure to acidity or from taking certain medications, it may reveal the dentin which has some color to it.

Extrinsic factors that may discolor teeth from food or drink include soda, coffee, wine, tea, juice or from eating berries. Smoking can also cause discoloration of teeth.

How to Prevent External Stains

If you are consistent with regular oral hygiene at home, brushing and flossing multiple times daily, external stains are less likely. However, if plaque builds up and adheres on teeth it is a biofilm, which contains bacteria. This phenomenon is responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. So, regular cleanings at your dentist, along with your at-home hygiene routine will help keep your teeth healthy and minimize plaque build up. When your teeth are well cared for and clean, the color from food and drink doesn’t have anything to adhere to. When the biofilm does build up, the stains stick and you will see the discoloration.

Do Citrus Fruits Whiten Teeth Naturally

The fact of the matter is, citrus fruits can brighten teeth. The citric acid fights the bacteria. Another popular holistic teeth whitening regimen is apple cider vinegar. But, there can be consequences.

comparison of stained teeth and whitened teethAcids Weaken Tooth Enamel

Even though citrus fruits may technically whiten teeth, it is bad for your enamel. Highly acidic food and products will break down tooth enamel. When the enamel is compromised, the discoloration will become worse because it can get deeper into the tooth. Also, the teeth will be more susceptible to decay and may become very sensitive. And the bottom line is, once tooth enamel is gone, you can’t repair it. You may have noticed that some of these websites mention diluting citrus oil or rinsing with water after using the fruit juices. This may lessen the effects, but acid is damaging to teeth. That’s all there is to it.

Professional Teeth Whitening

For any type of teeth whitening, it is best to discuss your preferences and concerns with a dentist and to whiten under the supervision of a dentist. This way, any urgent need you have can be addressed prior to whitening and you can avoid damage to your teeth.

Thank you for your question.

This post is sponsored by Lexington cosmetic dentist Hamburg Expressions.