By Bunmi Sofola
Who doesn’t want dazzling white teeth without spending a fortune at the dentist? Especially when you can spend next to nothing to get them sparkling white? Old wives’ tales? Well, according to websites devoted to the unlikely fruits, spices and oils which promise to give you a knock-them-dead smile at a fraction of the price dentists charge. This is not so far fetched. But as for Dr. Uchenna Okoye, a clinical director at London Smiling Dental Group, a bit of caution is advised before you make your teeth worse than they are. He then gives his opinion on the various ‘wonder cure’ for yellowing teeth.
Strawberries: Claim – Mash up a ripe strawberry, dip your toothbrush in it and brush carefully over teeth. Within two weeks, your teeth will be whiter.
Dentist’s Verdict: True – Strawberries contain citric acid, which can weaken the surface hardness of your teeth. But it also contains the more gentle malic acid, and the riper the strawberry becomes, the higher the concentration of malic acid compared to the more harmful citric acid. So choose a really ripe strawberry, rub it on your teeth and just like exfoliating the skin, it does remove superficial debris. The malic acid won’t actually break down the stain molecules, but the surface clean gives your teeth a whiter appearance. A gentle and effective natural whitener.
Orange Pith: Claim – The white part of the orange skin, between the surface and the flesh of the fruit, contains a d-limene, which can help remove stains from your teeth after using it for three weeks. Peel the orange, keeping as much of the white pith as you can. Rub the white part of the peel over your teeth, and let the juice sit on your teeth for three to five minutes, Brush your teeth thoroughly to clean away pulp and peel, and after several weeks the chemical will have whitened the appearance.
Verdict: False – The advice I give all my patients is to be very wary of fruit juices and drink them with a straw (if they have to drink juice at all). So this claim goes against every piece of advice and scientific evidence I can think of. The citric acid within the orange causes tooth enamel to dissolve. This erosion can lead to tooth decay, and once the erosion has reached the soft, inner layer of your teeth known as dentine, you’ll experience sensitivity and pain. Avoid.
Banana Peel: Claim – High levels of potassium, magnesium and manganese in bananas can help remove stains from teeth. Simply peel a ripe banana, and rub your teeth with the insides of the peel for about two minutes. After three weeks, your teeth will have whitened.
Verdict: True – If you rub the skin, it can act as a gentle exfoliator and will remove some surface stains, but the banana will not reach the inside the pores on the surface of your enamel – so no true ‘deep’ clean will take place. However, I like the idea that you can eat a banana and give your teeth a quick healthy buff before running off to a meeting.
Cider Vinegar: Claim – Rinsing with apple cider vinegar (mixed two parts of water) will make teeth whiter and protect teeth and gums from bacteria.
Verdict: False – Cider Vinegar is a favourite of ‘detox’ devotees. Once swallowed, it mixes with pancreatic secretions in the intestines and turns alkali e, but when it hits your teeth, it is an acid, albeit a weak one. This makes the enamel on your teeth less resistant to damage – like wetting a chalk and then scraping off the surface. A low acid level – such as the malic acid in strawberries – won’t harm your teeth. But this will buff away a deeper layer of enamel, and should be avoided.
Coconut Oil: Claim – A 3,000-year-old Ayurvedic way to clean teeth is to swish a tablespoon of oil (usually coconut, sesame or alive oil) around your mouth for 20 minutes every morning. The coconut oil sticks to the oil in the cell membrane of any bacteria in your mouth, so when you spit it out, you are ridding your mouth of unwanted micro-organisms. Used by stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, who claim it whitens teeth and improves complexion.
Verdict: False – There is no scientific evidence at all that ‘oil pulling’ as it’s called, will whiten teeth, or even remove bacteria. It’s possible that the act of swishing the oil around your mouth will dislodge some bacteria or debris, so followed by a careful brushing session, your teeth may look cleaner. But no science shows that oil pulling will make your teeth any whiter.
Bicarbonate of Soda: Claim – Bicarbonate of soda is a mild abrasive which effectively removes stains on teeth caused by coffee, red wine and tea. In a cup, mix half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with half a teaspoon of water, mix to form a paste, dip your toothbrush into the mixture and brush teeth for one to two minutes. After just a few days you will notice a difference.
Verdict: True – Bicarbonate of soda – otherwise known as baking soda – is somehow considered natural but it is actually a chemical, and used commercially in some teeth–whitening products and tooth pastes. It does effectively remove plaque and debris in the surface of the teeth to make them appear brighter, and it also can neutralise bacterial/acids in the mouth. But it is an abrasive compound and, as such, will damage the enamel protecting the teeth if used too much. Try it three times a year to lift those surface stains, and to avoid damaging the enamel, use your finger to rub it on or a flannel.
Lemons: Claim – Suck on a slice of lemon for several minutes each morning, or rinse your mouth with lemon juice squeezed into a glass of water. The acid from the lemon will deep-clean even the tiniest of molecules lodged in your teeth.
Verdict: False – Lemons have such a high concentration of citric acid that their juice is acidic enough to corrode enamel. Lemon juice has no place in the mouth at all. Lemons are more acidic than vinegar. Far from whitening your teeth, they’ll dissolve them away. I have seen patients who such lemons and are left with the imprint of a lemon slice on their teeth – requiring bonding and veneering to cover it up. Avoid this at all costs – it is the same as bathing your teeth in a glass of cola.
So which is best? Strawberries beat them all hands down!
What You See Is All You Get! (Humour)
During a wild weekend in Edinburge with the lads, Vinnie declares; ‘I’m going to wear a kilt out clubbing tonight.’ The others laugh but Vinnie insists embracing the traditional costume will get him lots of female attention.
That night, Vinnie’s kilt swishes around his bare knees as they swagger into a club. Immediately a beautiful woman sways up to him. ‘Hey, handsome,’ she says with a wink. ‘Is there anything worn under that kilt?’ ‘Oh no,’ Vinnie declares hastily. ‘It’s all in perfect working order.’
Do It Yourself! (Humour)
One night, Alex is in the mood to make love to his beautiful wife, Gail. Not wanting to sound too blunt, he whispers: ‘Would it be OK for me to put my letter in your post box?’
‘No, it would not!’ she fires back. An hour later he’s still feeling frisky. ‘Any chance of posting my letter in your post box now?’ he murmurs. ‘No! Go to sleep,’ Gail replies firmly.
But as time ticks by, she relents and says huskily: ‘OK, you can put your letter in my post box now…’ ‘Forget it,’ Alex snaps. ‘It’s been delivered by hand.’
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