The internet is full of lovely information and things to try this week that thing is Turmeric for Teeth!
As well as being a tasty spice and natural colourant Turmeric has been a key ingredient in the Ayurvedic medicine cabinet since forever. Turmeric also caught the attention of the pharmacological world and has been widely studied in the hope of unlocking the secrets to what makes Turmeric such a powerful healing ingredient.
A key active in Turmeric is Curcumin and I believe that this is where the hype about brushing your teeth with toothpaste made with turmeric powder has come from.
Curcumin, found naturally in turmeric is a precursor to the antioxidant tetrahydrocurcumin – a chemical that the body makes by breaking down curcumin. This antioxidant has been found to have a positive effect on healing gum disease and it has even found to impact cancer cells, reducing their growth. Additional studies have linked curcumin to improved wound healing and tissue regeneration. Wonderful stuff.
BUT IT WON’T WORK WELL IN A TOOTHPASTE.
The curcumin in turmeric is poorly water-soluble. It’s solubility in water can be improved by heating it so if you want to drink turmeric or brush your teeth with hot turmeric tea you might be able to salvage the myth. However, to really see a benefit you need to put the turmeric into oil and let it infuse and this is where the down side comes in. Curcumin may be good for you but it is also very yellow. This yellow, being oil soluble tends to stain and that’s not exactly what you want for your teeth although if it is oral health you are after I can see the benefit in placing activity over vanity for a while.
So, my advise is that if you really do want to heal your mouth issues with turmeric you should use either a turmeric infused oil or get the turmeric CO2 oil and use that.
BUT THERE IS HOPE FOR TURMERIC INSPIRED PRODUCTS…..
I read an interesting report from Sabinsa Corp (an ingredient manufacturer) who supply the antioxidant form of curcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin directly to the food and other industries. This phenolic antioxidant has several advantages over whole turmeric but sadly it still isn’t water-soluble (although you can mix it into propylene glycol and I presume it will also work with propanediol, the natural equivalent). The fact that it is colourless and can be dissolved into a paste makes it very interesting for natural toothpastes wanting to capitalise on the activity and popularity of Turmeric without the yellowing.
AND WHAT ABOUT TURMERIC FOR TEETH WHITENING?
Yes that’s another thing that has been doing the rounds on the internet. After reading a couple of blogs about this my conclusion is this. The most likely way turmeric is working as a teeth whitener is to get you to brush your teeth properly. Just like a disclosing tablet the turmeric is going to stick more to your dirty bits and gum line. You, being disgusted by your now yellow teeth will scrub and scrub with your toothbrush to get the bloody stuff off. You might even brush twice and rinse or you might just brush for a really long time.
So basically you are whitening your teeth by doing a proper good job at brushing. Simple really.
Overall it looks like there is no real harm that can come from putting turmeric in your toothpaste, your tea or as oil into your mouth so do give it a go, all the time remembering that there’s science and there’s the internet.