Every day, the oral care aisle at the store gets longer and longer. From at-home teeth whitening kits to specialized formulas, the choices can be overwhelming.
Some of these solutions can cost upwards of $100, while others (e.g., activated charcoal) don't work at all.
Dental procedures are certainly your best bet, but they're also cost-prohibitive—most cost hundreds or thousands of dollars (and they require maintenance). And if you have sensitive teeth, a bleaching session or whitening product may be too much to handle.
Although the idea of using a kitchen pantry staple for dental hygiene may sound strange, several studies have shown that olive oil has certain properties that improve oral health.
Is whitening one of those properties? Let's take a look at the facts.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work, Exactly?
The tooth's enamel—the protective white layer on the outside—is composed of microscopic crystals, made up of mineral deposits. When exposed to acidic beverages and foods, the minerals in these crystals can be dissolved, causing discoloration and staining.
The most common way to whiten teeth is with a hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching agent. Depending on whether you use an in-office bleaching procedure or an at-home product, the bleaching agent will either be applied to your teeth directly or in a custom tray that fits over your teeth.
When done correctly, teeth whitening is a safe procedure that can significantly reduce existing discoloration and staining. But it also includes high concentrations of chemicals, which can lead to teeth whitening side effects, such as:
- Tooth sensitivity from exposure to the bleaching agent
- Gum irritation or burning from contact with the bleaching agent
- Excessive whitening that results in an unnatural, "over-bleached" appearance
Why Would Someone Use Olive Oil To Whiten Their Teeth?
The same principle behind professional bleaching applies to olive oil—it helps remove stains from the enamel surface by lifting dirt and debris off of it.
Unlike bleaching agents, though, olive oil does not contain any harsh chemicals or bleaching agents. Just like other natural teeth whitening methods, it uses natural ingredients that are easier on tooth enamel.
There are several reasons people would consider olive oil as a viable alternative to traditional teeth whitening:
- Cost: Unless you buy a nice bottle, olive oil costs a few dollars at the grocery store.
- Ease: Unlike bleaching treatments, olive oil does not require any special preparation or equipment.
- Convenience: Rather than schedule an appointment, people can quickly and easily use olive oil at home.
- Comfort: Olive oil is gentle on teeth, and it doesn't cause the sensitivity that comes with bleaching products.
- Health Benefits: In addition to dental health, the antioxidants, unsaturated fats, and vitamins in olive oil are beneficial to your overall health.
- All-Natural: Regardless of their safety, some people prefer to avoid unnecessary chemicals and additives, which processed tooth whitening products certainly contain.
Of course, using a home method like olive oil also has its drawbacks.
Compared to other teeth whitening options, home solutions like olive oil won't make as dramatic a difference—and they take longer to show results.
And since they aren't backed by the ADA or guided by a dental professional, there is also a larger margin for error (if they even work at all).
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is a natural teeth whitening and detoxifying practice that dates back thousands of years. The process involves swishing oil in your mouth for anywhere from 5-20 minutes to help draw out toxins, reduce inflammation, improve gum health, and even help whiten teeth.
Coconut oil is commonly used for oil pulling, along with sesame and sunflower oil. The process works to pull the bacteria off of your teeth and neutralize them before you spit them out.
A recent study from the Journal of Traditional and Contemporary Medicine reported that oil pulling reduced bacteria, plaque, and gingivitis in the mouth, leading to improved dental health.
Can You Whiten Teeth With Olive Oil?
Dental caries, if left untreated, can result in cavities and infections that could lead to potential tooth loss. Using fluoride toothpaste twice per day and flossing regularly is enough to prevent tooth decay, but whitening with just fluoride toothpaste is impossible.
Olive oil is among the healthiest oils you can eat—its abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and unsaturated fats make it an excellent part of a balanced diet.
For teeth, olive oil offers several benefits:
1. Oleic Acid In Olive Oil Strengthens And Protects Teeth.
A study evaluating the potential effects of a Mediterranean diet on periodontitis revealed no notable connection. Interestingly, frequent olive oil consumption was inversely associated with periodontitis. These findings suggest that incorporating olive oil into your daily routine may help protect against this dental condition.
Another study explored the impact of following a Mediterranean diet on oral health, analyzing such components as complex carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, beans and nuts, seafood, olive oil, and dairy.
This research conclusively demonstrated that the oleic acid in olive oil could impede biofilm growth, safeguarding against dental caries and periodontitis. It was also discovered that higher fruit consumption contributes to better oral health.
2. Antioxidants Provide Further Protection From Disease.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an unequal balance between free radicals and antioxidants, resulting in a variety of medical issues. It's a leading cause of tissue damage in the body—including your teeth.
The antioxidants in olive oil, including polyphenols and tocopherols, work to neutralize free radicals that can damage teeth, ultimately leading to disease and decay.
This study confirms the positive effects of these antioxidants on oral health, showing that they actively take down ROS levels, thus protecting against dental caries.
3. Olive Oil Is A Natural Teeth Whitener.
Thanks to its viscous consistency, olive oil can act as a natural teeth whitener when used in conjunction with other dental hygiene measures. And since it's chemical-free, it's a softer and easier alternative to teeth whitening kits.
Whitening your teeth with olive oil is simple—all you have to do is swish it around before you brush your teeth. While you brush, it will actively neutralize stain-causing agents, resulting in brighter and whiter teeth.
It should be noted that the results of using olive oil for whitening your teeth may take longer to show than with commercial products, but it is an alternative that won't leave you with any unwanted side effects.
4. Olive Oil Has Antibacterial Properties.
Bacteria is the primary culprit of cavities and periodontal diseases. Your mouth is a thriving habitat for colonies of bacteria, which survive due to their metabolic processes and produce waste as they do so.
When excessive bacteria build up, so does their waste. And the end result is plaque buildup and—you guessed it—tooth discoloration.
Thanks to the polyphenols in olive oil, you can eliminate this problem by using it as a mouthwash or part of your brushing routine.
How To Use Olive Oil Pulling As A Teeth Whitener
Using olive oil to whiten your teeth is easy, but it's important that you do it correctly. To enjoy all the benefits of white teeth, follow the steps below for the best results:
- Start by taking one tablespoon of olive oil and swishing it in your mouth for about 5 to 20 minutes. As you become accustomed to the method, gradually increase the amount of time until you reach a maximum duration of 20 minutes.
- Thoroughly swish the liquid around your mouth - making sure to reach all areas of your teeth and gums. For maximum effectiveness, do this each morning before eating anything.
- After swishing for 20 minutes, dispose of the contents in your mouth by spitting them into a trash can. Do not use the sink for this.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Continue with your normal brushing routine.
For maximum results, it is best to use olive oil pulling at least a few times each week.
Want to know more? Here are a few questions our customers frequently ask us:
How Long Does It Take To Whiten Teeth With Olive Oil?
You should spend at least 5 minutes swishing olive oil around your mouth for best results. Results will vary from person to person, but you can expect to see noticeable improvements within a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of the discoloration.
Can Olive Oil Help With Dry Mouth?
Olive oil can be used to help relieve the symptoms of a dry mouth. Swishing olive oil around your mouth for a few minutes before brushing can help to lubricate and soothe the gums and cheeks. This can also help reduce bad breath caused by dryness in your mouth.
Is Olive Oil Better Than Toothpaste?
Olive oil is not better than toothpaste. It is also not better than any other type of tooth whitening product, such as whitening strips or gels. However, it can be used in conjunction with toothpaste to enhance the effects and optimize your results.
Can You Brush Your Teeth With Olive Oil?
Yes. Brushing your teeth with olive oil is a common way to use it for dental health and teeth whitening. But it is not a substitute for regular toothpaste and should only be used in addition to your regular brushing routine.
How Fast Does Olive Oil Whiten Teeth?
In about 30-60 days, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, and discolored teeth begin to improve. However, since it is a natural method, the results vary according to individual lifestyle and oral hygiene habits.
Can I Brush My Teeth With Olive Oil Every Day?
If you want to improve your smile, brushing your teeth with olive oil can be beneficial. You can also swish olive oil around your mouth to pull out toxins from the gums and teeth. Its antibacterial properties will immediately start working to reduce bacteria in the mouth.
How Does Olive Oil Get Rid Of Yellow Teeth?
Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that help to remove plaque buildup. With less plaque on your teeth, your teeth will become brighter and whiter. But olive oil does more than just preventive care, it can also help to reverse discoloration and yellowing. The antioxidants in olive oil bind to the particles that cause staining, allowing you to brush them away.
How Long Can You Leave The Olive Oil On Your Teeth?
It is recommended that you swish olive oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes, but the time can vary depending on individual preference. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth afterwards and follow a proper brushing routine.
How Many Times A Day Should I Use Olive Oil For My Teeth?
For best results, you can use olive oil pulling daily. But depending on your oral hygiene habits, you may want to use it more often to improve the whiteness or strength of your teeth. As always, consult with your dentist before making any changes to your daily routine.
Is Olive Oil Safe For Teeth Whitening?
Olive oil is safe for teeth whitening, but it is important to use it properly. If you don't swish the oil around enough, you may not get the desired results. Also, always rinse your mouth after use and make sure to follow a proper brushing routine afterward.
The Bottom Line
Olive oil pulling is a popular and natural method for teeth whitening that has been used for centuries. It is safe and effective, but results may vary from person to person. When used in conjunction with brushing and other oral hygiene practices, olive oil can help to improve the appearance of your smile.
However, it also has its limitations. Since it only works on surface-level discoloration, it may not be effective for deeper stains. For more severe cases of discoloration, it's best to look into professional whitening procedures.