Strawberry teeth whitening refers to the practice of using a strawberry to “naturally” whiten the teeth at home.
Despite the trendiness of this new dental fad, people have been warned of its potential dangers, which include permanent enamel damage.
The strawberry itself is not dangerous; it’s the prolonged/frequent rubbing of it that can result in irreversible damage.
However, due to the ease and low cost of this DIY teeth whitening method, many people are tempted to try it out. But before you do that, it’s important that you understand exactly what you’re signing up for.
What Is Strawberry Teeth Whitening?
Strawberry teeth whitening is a DIY teeth whitening home remedy that uses cut or mashed-up strawberries for making the teeth look brighter.
The idea is that strawberries contain a bunch of acids – citric, ascorbic, malic, ellagic, and pantothenic – that can “clean” (or bleach) the teeth and whiten them.
In particular, it’s the malic acid in strawberries that’s considered the most beneficial. Malic acid is believed to be a more gentle bleaching agent that can get rid of surface stains on teeth.
However, in truth, it’s not just this acid in the strawberries that wipes the teeth.
According to a study published in European Food Research and Technology, both citric and malic acids make up the majority of the acids in strawberries.
So, in fact, mainly both these bleaching agents are making the teeth appear whiter when it comes to strawberry teeth whitening.
And citric acid is notorious for its harmful effects on the teeth.
How Are Strawberries Used For Teeth Whitening?
Here’s how strawberries are used for teeth whitening at home:
- Take 1 strawberry and mask it to a pulp.
- Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda in it.
- Take the mixture on a toothbrush and apply it to the teeth.
- Let it sit for 5 mins (so the acids can do their job).
- Then gently brush the mixture and, again, let it sit for 5 more minutes.
- Rinse properly.
- Floss to get the strawberry seeds out.
Those who recommend it suggest doing it once a week, and the results should become visible after around 2 weeks.
However, that’s not the opinion of a medical professional. It’s mainly DIY-ers and bloggers who are dispensing this advice.
So, is it even worth it?
Do Strawberries Whiten Teeth?
There’s little evidence that strawberries can safely whiten teeth. While they do contain bleaching agents in the form of acids, they don’t work like the peroxides used in chemical teeth whitening.
Peroxide-based agents whiten the teeth by breaking down bigger stain molecules into smaller ones. As a result, the light is reflected off them differently. And that makes the teeth look white.
Teeth whitening with strawberries, however, takes place in a different way.
The bleaching agents in them essentially soften and erode the enamel. That can cause demineralisation and form white spots on teeth (temporary and reversible if taken care of in time).
However, after the enamel has been heavily eroded, it will expose the dentin underneath. And that will make your teeth look quite yellow.
Some also say that strawberries make the teeth look white by dislodging the plaque on them (like eating apples can do). But, again, that’s not exactly whitening the teeth – it’s just cleaning them.
Although, one research published in the Padjadjaran Journal of Dentistry did show that strawberries have a teeth-whitening potential, especially against apple juice and mineral water.
The researchers took 30 premolars, divided them into 3 groups, and immersed them in the respective juices/water 3 times a day for 1 week.
When their colour levels were measured with a spectrophotometer, the strawberry teeth showed the best results.
This is a very small study in favour of strawberry teeth whitening.
And the problem is even if it does work, strawberries’ acid content can damage your teeth quite a bit.
Do Strawberries And Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?
Due to their abrasive properties, strawberries are often combined with baking soda for teeth whitening. However, research shows that strawberries and baking soda are not effective for whitening teeth either.
A study published in the Journal of Operative Dentistry took 120 molars and divided them into six groups.
Three groups were given over-the-counter (OTC), at-home (but prepared by dentists), and in-office teeth whitening. Two were controls, but the last one was assigned a mixture of strawberries and baking soda.
The DIY mixture was rubbed on the molars for 5 minutes before being brushed. This was done 3 times a day for 10 days. But the experiment showed no “real” whitening effect.
All it did was remove “superficial debris” and dislodge the plaque, which is what made the teeth look whiter, if at all.
However, teeth that were treated with chemical teeth whitening showed real improvements in their colour.
Another research published in The Saudi Dental Journal also had almost similar results for strawberries after 4 weeks of application, with baking soda (in a separate group) doing slightly better.
How Do Strawberries Whiten Teeth?
Anecdotal evidence would suggest that strawberry teeth whitening works quite well.
And it may be because of a combination of bleaching, dehydration, and plaque cleaning done by the strawberries.
The acids in strawberries not only bleach (and erode) the teeth, but it’s believed that it also causes temporary dehydration.
And a study published in the Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry suggests that dehydration can make the teeth look temporarily whiter after bleaching.
In the case of strawberries, however, that effect is likely to be very short-lived. So, any gains would soon be lost.
Is It Safe To Whiten Teeth With Strawberries?
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises against using acidic fruits (like strawberries) for teeth whitening.
That’s because acids, in general, can wear away the tooth enamel over time. This will leave it without its protective covering, which can cause a host of problems, such as infection and decay.
The ADA also advises against mixing abrasives with acidic fruits because that, too, has the potential to permanently damage the enamel.
Keep in mind that strawberries mainly contain citric and malic acid. And citric acid, in particular, is notorious for its damaging effects on the teeth.
Research published in the Archives of Oral Biology showed that citric acid had a very strong ability to cause “hardness loss” and “enamel dissolution.”
Some suggest that you should use more ripe strawberries for teeth whitening as their malic acid content is higher.
For one, research published in Food Science and Biotechnology showed that the citric and malic acid levels of strawberries decreased as they matured.
Secondly, not many people know exactly when a strawberry is perfectly ripe (there are different shades of red).
Therefore, you shouldn’t follow this kind of advice either.
That’s because once you lose the enamel on your teeth, it’s gone forever. And you will only be able to “fix” (not reverse) it with expensive dental repair work.
Are Strawberries Bad For Your Teeth?
In general, eating strawberries isn’t exactly bad for your teeth. Since you’re not letting the acid sit on your teeth for a long time, it’s unlikely to cause as much damage.
Still, at the end of the day, strawberries are an acidic food. And consuming a lot of acidic foods every day can erode the enamel of your teeth.
Additionally, although strawberries are low in sugar, the cumulative effect of eating a lot of strawberries in a short period of time may be bad as well.
Therefore, in moderation, strawberries aren’t bad for your teeth. However, as the old saying goes: excess of everything is bad.
How Can You Whiten Your Teeth?
In order to whiten your teeth, you can use a variety of methods, all of which involve a peroxide-based compound. For example,
- Teeth whitening pens and strips
- Teeth whitening kits (custom prepared by a dentist)
- In-office teeth whitening
The highest peroxide strength is used in in-office teeth whitening, which is why it can be the most effective. With pens, strips, and DIY kits, there’s a danger of mishandling or misuse, which can cause damage to the teeth and gums.
Other than that, you can also be mindful of your diet and lifestyle to avoid staining your teeth in the first place. Don’t consume a lot of staining (wine, soy, tomato, turmeric) or acidic, and sugary foods and don’t smoke.
Also, you should make sure to brush your teeth twice a day (every day) with fluoride toothpaste, use mouthwash, and floss. And you should get regular dental checkups to make sure your teeth stay clean.
Natural isn’t always better. And that goes for strawberry teeth whitening as well. While they may seem innocuous enough, they can do actual harm to your teeth.
Strawberries are acidic fruits, and if the acids in them are allowed to sit on the teeth for a long time, they’ll erode the enamel. And once you’ve lost your enamel, it’s not going to grow back.
Therefore, be very careful about trying out any kind of new DIY teeth whitening trend. You may think that it is quite cheap, but it may end up costing you a lot in the long run.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr Izbel Aksit