Is Coconut Oil A Natural Way To Whiten Teeth?

Natural remedies tend to be hit or miss. While many of them have been around for a lot longer than their consumerist counterparts, sometimes that household item is better kept in the cupboard and not all over your face. 


Coconut oil is the number one home remedy/DIY solution ingredient in the book. There's really no shortage of what you can use coconut oil for. It's good for anything from cooking your meals to a deeply hydrating hair mask, per Healthline. That being said, there are some instances where it can drop the ball. 

For example, while many claimed it was a game-changing skincare ingredient, that was very quickly dispelled. Coconut oil was proven to be a nightmare when it comes to clogging your pores. As New York-based Esthetician Jordana Mattioli explained to Into the Gloss, "I have clients, at least one or two a week, that say, 'I've been using coconut oil on my face, I heard it was good for this and this ... Their pores are so congested." Mattioli suggests reserving coconut oil for the frying pan and your hair. But what about your teeth? Could coconut oil be a miracle dental product that manages to whiten your teeth naturally? 


How coconut oil pulling works

Teeth whitening is a painful hassle. While we all strive for those pearly whites, getting them can prove to be rather daunting. You have professional teeth whitening services that get you that Hollywood smile at the cost of seething pain and sensitive teeth, per Gentle Dental. Committing to using at-home whitening strips can be annoying, and they can come with teeth sensitivity as a side effect. Who wants to weigh out the benefits of whiter teeth over being able to eat anything too cold for a few days? Giving up ice cream? Hard pass. When coconut oil reared its all-too-familiar home remedy head as a teeth whitening solution, everyone listened. But should they have? 


Of course, the method was popularized by the same person that tends to spread the most bizarre beauty hacks: Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow shared her routine that included oil pulling, an Ayurvedic method that has been around for decades, per Glamour. The idea is to grab a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for twenty minutes to improve your oral health and also whiten your teeth in the process, per Healthline

Coconut oil pulling is a heavily debated method, as some doctors claim it can help fight gingivitis and cure bad breath while others claim it could be dangerous, especially if accidentally swallowed, per 92 Dental. But could it whiten your teeth?

The experts weigh in

The expert verdict on coconut oil pulling as a teeth whitening method appears to be a resounding no. Dr. Rod Kurthy, the founder of KöR Whitening, explains that there is zero proof that coconut oil pulling whitens teeth, and there's perhaps a much simpler explanation behind why people felt the appearance of their teeth improved after coconut oil pulling. "I suppose if there is any stain floating among the bacteria, the stain may be removed at the same time, along with the bacteria," Dr. Kurthy explains on how coconut oil doesn't whiten your teeth but rather aids in the removal of an "un-attached stain." 


It doesn't help that the American Dental Association (ADA) has also denied that oil pulling is beneficial for your oral hygiene. In fact, it insists that it could be damaging. "And while there is an absence of documented tooth whitening derived from oil pulling, it is worth noting that adverse events ranging from lipoid pneumonia to upset stomach and diarrhea have been reported," the association says on this method.

So, it looks like there is a limit to what coconut oil can do. You can now lump coconut oil pulling for teeth whitening in with the fair few other Gwyneth Paltrow recommendations with which experts have had a field day.