Food and Nutrition

How Turmeric and Coconut Oil Can Help You Get Brilliant White Teeth

Rachel Lapidos

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Even though turmeric is a game-changing skin booster and inflammation-fighting superfood, you have to be careful handling it—because it turns everything it touches into that signature yellow-orange shade. But the one thing it doesn’t stain is your teeth—in fact, it actually whitens them (completely counterintuitive, but yes).

After beauty DIY blogger Farah Dhukai posted a video about how brushing your teeth with turmeric plus coconut oil instantly makes your pearly whites more white than off-white, I had to get an expert’s opinion as to whether it really works (because it sounds too good to be true).

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GET WHITE TEETH INSTANTLYYYYYY! 😁🐚💎 You need: ✅1tbs coconut oil ✅A pinch of turmeric 🔸mix the coconut oil and turmeric together to create a paste 🔸brush your teeth with the coconut oil and turmeric paste 🔸let sit on ur teeth for 5 mins 🔸rinse mouth and brush teeth as u normally would with ur regular toothpaste 👉🏽Do this as often as you can and you'll get a brighter, whiter smile! No more chemicals! 😃 #damnfarahbackatitagainwiththeturmeric 👌🏾this is NOT a joke it REALLY WORKS! Yes the turmeric is yellow but once u rinse it off you'll have brighter teeth instantly! The turmeric does NOT stain your teeth! ❤️❤️ #hudabeauty #wakeupandmakeup #vegas_nay #diytop #diy #makegirlz #makegirlzvid

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Turns out that in ancient Ayurveda, holistic gurus have known about it all along.

“In Ayurveda, the coconut oil aspect gets more attention because of oil pulling,” says Trudy Collings, Ayurvedic expert and co-founder of Paavani healing company. “But once you infuse herbs, you get the properties and benefits of the base oil but also each individual herb which helps boost your oral health.” (She notes that charcoal works whitening wonders, too.)

Specifically, turmeric reduces gum inflammation, has antibacterial properties, and helps with whitening, she adds. “And coconut oil reduces plaque and fights the bacteria that contributes to cavities and gum disease.”

Even dentists can get behind the more woo-woo whitening method (kind of). “The fatty part of the coconut oil adheres to the fatty outer cell layer of tooth bacteria and pulls it away,” says Victoria Veytsman, DDS, a cosmetic dentist. “It removes stains from your teeth. I’d say it’s mostly the abrasive quality of turmeric that’d help with that as well, but I’d recommend baking soda instead.”

The best part is that the two superstar ingredients are totally affordable (if you don’t have them in your pantry already)—and they don’t have harmful side effects, which certain white strips can’t say (cough). “Over-the-counter whitening methods make your teeth feel weak and achy,” says Collings. “They can also lead to receding gums because of the chemicals used, whereas coconut oil helps with receding gum lines.”

So there you have it—the one thing turmeric won’t stain is your teeth.

To use it to its full advantage, here’s the DIY turmeric “miracle mask” that Katie Holmes’ facialist swears by. And here are 22 delicious recipes starring the anti-inflammatory superfood

Originally published May 10, 2017; updated July 6, 2018.

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