Researchers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan looked into natural alternatives to the commercially prepared tooth whiteners available to consumers. Lemon juice was one of several options evaluated in the 2023 study titled In vitro comparison of natural tooth-whitening remedies and professional tooth-whitening systems.
Hydrogen peroxide is the most common ingredient in prepared solutions. It uses an oxidation process to lighten, and drawbacks can include changes in surface texture and the enamel, among others. They noted that many people advocate the use of natural alternatives from strawberries and banana peels, to coconut oil rinse, activated charcoal, baking soda, and turmeric…
But, just how effective are those natural substances?
It’s important to note that the study used healthy teeth that had already been extracted, and that you should be cautious with anything you apply to your teeth.
For the study, the substances they compared were:
- baking soda,
- activated charcoal,
- lemon juice,
- Colgate Optic Whitening toothpaste, and
- Opalescence 20 % home-bleaching system.
Each of these operates via a different method of lightening. For the lemon juice, 39 ml fresh juice was applied to teeth with a soft toothbrush for 2 minutes, twice daily. Each application was followed by a thorough rinse with water.
The immediate and thorough rinse goes along with general recommendations for lemons, citrus, and any acid-rich fruits. Find out more about those guidelines, and how to remineralize your teeth, here.
The results were interesting.
- By the 10th day, every group except the lemon juice group showed visible and significant difference in whitening;
- By the end of the study, however, at four weeks, the lemon juice group showed the most significant whitening effect.
Note: It’s a single study, and the mechanisms aren’t fully understood. It’s not a recommendation to use on your teeth until more is examined. But, it’s an interesting result that should prompt further study into natural tooth whitening methods.