There’s no getting away from the fact that the older we get, the tougher it becomes to keep our teeth looking as white and bright as they used to. But did you know that you could be making things even worse by succumbing to faddy health trends? A dental hygienist gives us the lowdown on what we should be avoiding.

Yes, the internet is a great tool for learning about any topic in a couple of clicks, but it also comes with many flaws. Within the information overload, how do you sift the fake information from the accurate? In the medical and nutritional communities, this is essential. When it comes to seeking out information about our health, we should feel confident that we are getting advice that is not only correct, but more importantly, won’t cause us harm.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, oftentimes reliable sources are drowned out by the more non-scientific voices. When it comes to keeping our teeth whiter than white, it’s easy to jump on a health “trend” that actually impacts your oral health in a negative way.

We spoke to award winning dental hygienist and founder of London Hygienist  Anna Middleton, who in this feature, calls out some of these fads to make sure everyone understands that they are just that – fads.

Read on for some of the “health trends” Anna Middleton suggests you avoid if you want a brighter smile.

Lemon Water

We’ve been hearing it for years – always start your morning with hot lemon water. The claim is that citrus fruits in water will provide ‘detoxification’ benefits. Unfortunately, there are no products or preparations that have any impact on ‘detoxifying’ the body. The only things that remove any by-products of normal metabolism or ingested chemicals from drugs, medicines or alcohol are the liver and kidneys. Beyond these two vital organs, there is nothing that can “detoxify” your body.

With the increased popularity of sipping lemon water and “detox” juices, we’re actually seeing an increase in the number of patients with permanent and irreversible erosion of the tooth enamel, which leads to sensitivity, yellowing and increased risk of decay. So, in an attempt to try and be “healthy”, people are actually causing damage to their oral health and not even reaping any actual health benefits.


Coconut Oil Pulling

Coconut oil pulling is an oral detoxification technique whereby people swish coconut oil in their mouth like mouthwash and then spit it out. The aim is to treat gum disease and/or whiten-teeth.

While there is nothing to suggest this is harmful, gum disease needs be identified and treated by a dental professional and each patient needs a tailored oral hygiene regime. Oil pulling alone is not going to help.



We’re heard we should eat smaller meals frequently, including snacking regularly, to help us lose weight or maintain a fast metabolism. The reality is that snacking on things like dried fruit increases the frequency of consuming sugar and can lead to dental decay. Dried fruit gets stuck in the pits and fissures of teeth, which are stagnation areas and prime ground for decay to be initiated.


Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural health treatment and is thought to aid weight loss. Acetic acid, a compound found in apple cider vinegar, has been cited in some studies as the active ingredient that helps with weight loss. However, excessive consumption over a prolonged period of time can cause irreversible erosion to enamel.



Charcoal Toothpaste

Recently there have been claims that one should use charcoal toothpaste to brighten your smile, but there has been no evidence to prove its effectiveness in tooth-whitening.

While it may lift light surface staining, the truth is, most so-called whitening toothpastes can be abrasive and damage the enamel. Charcoal may even contribute to negative aesthetic effects, as the particles can become embedded in cracks in the enamel or restoration margins.



There is an increasing movement of people opting for fluoride-free products, despite the industry using it for decades due to its effectiveness. Fluoride creates the re-strengthening of enamel through remineralisation, and prevents damage known as demineralisation from acid and sugar. Fluoride is essential in the formation of strong enamel, and there is no need to worry about exposing yourself to it; the amount of fluoride in toothpaste is safe because you’re not ingesting it.

So, there you have it. Some of these are controversial, we do like our lemon tea first thing in the morning. Maybe we’ll sip from a straw in future. Paper, of course!

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