Aloe Vera For Whiter Teeth & Healthier Gums? Here's What To Know
For those looking for a whiter smile and healthier gums, it may seem tempting to opt for more traditional oral care products—and while it's fine if you do, you should also know there are great natural alternatives as well. You've likely heard of coconut oil's benefits or even trendy charcoal. But here, we're talking about aloe vera.
Aloe vera is often touted for its soothing skin and hair care benefits. But this plant is not just for the outside of your body. Its powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities make it well-suited to boosting your oral health too:
Reduces gum inflammation.
One of the main oral benefits of aloe vera is on gum health. "Using aloe vera as a home remedy can reduce gum recession by restoring the texture of gum tissue," says Zachary Linhart, DDS. This is backed up by several studies that showed that aloe vera can reduce inflammation of the gums, one of the signs of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. In some cases aloe vera worked as well as chlorhexidine, a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria in the mouth.
These studies even showed that aloe vera can effectively reduce plaque on the teeth; again, sometimes as well as chlorhexidine. Aloe vera also had few side effects compared to this prescription mouthwash, which can cause a change in taste or staining of the teeth. However, sometimes professional help is needed to maintain optimum gum health. "While aloe vera is a great at-home remedy," says Linhart, "anyone experiencing swollen gums should see a dentist for an exam."
Stops cavity-causing germs.
In addition to aloe vera's ability to reduce inflammation, it also kills certain bacteria, including those that live in the mouth. "Aloe vera may help you in treating cavities because it inhibits the growth of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which are mostly responsible for tooth decay," says Henry Hackney, DDS.
One 2009 study found that aloe vera toothpaste was as effective as two commercially popular toothpastes at controlling several oral bacteria, including S. mutans. However, no research so far has looked directly at whether aloe vera can reduce dental cavities. Still, that doesn't mean aloe vera doesn't have something to offer your mouth. "Antibacterial properties of this plant, as well as the multiplicity of antioxidants in it, can help prevent us from developing gum disease, bad breath, or various inflammations," says Hackney.
Whitens teeth? Possibly.
Some websites promote the use of aloe vera for teeth whitening, but there is limited evidence to back this up. "Although aloe vera is proven to inhibit the growth of bacteria," says Linhart, "I've yet to see research regarding its impact on whitening teeth or reducing the chances of cavities."
Still, plaque has a yellowish color that over time can make your sparkly white teeth look dull and dingy. Likewise, tartar, which forms from plaque along and under the gumline, appears yellow or brown. By removing plaque and reducing tartar formation, aloe vera may be able to keep your teeth whiter longer.
Choosing an aloe vera product.
To get the full benefits of aloe vera for your mouth, make sure you choose a high-quality product. Hackney recommends reading the product label carefully before buying. "High-quality aloe vera products shouldn't contain mainly water and alcohol," he says. "Also, the fewer ingredients, the better." And just because the gel of the aloe vera plant is clear, don't think the product needs to be green.
The International Aloe Science Council has a certification program for products shown to contain aloe vera of the highest quality and purity. The American Dental Association also has a list of dental products that have received its seal of approval, including some that contain aloe.
Practicing good oral health.
Gingivitis is most often due to poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque to form on the teeth. Although many cases are mild, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease. This can cause damage to nearby tissue or bone and can even lead to the loss of teeth.
While aloe vera products may help your teeth and gums feel cleaner and healthier, they can't do it by themselves. Brushing and flossing regularly, having annual dental cleanings, and eating healthy can all reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease. And if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums, seek help. "All cavities require professional treatment," says Hackney. "Although some natural products may be helpful, they mustn't replace a dental appointment."
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Shawn Radcliffe is a science writer who received a B.A. in writing and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, and a master's in Science Education from Drexel University. His work has appeared in print and digital publications, including mindbodygreen, Healthline, The Health Journal, Science & Nonduality, and others. Originally from New Hampshire, Shawn has lived in Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, and now Ontario, Canada, where he is also a yoga instructor. When he’s not reading or writing, Shawn is often backpacking, bicycling, or wandering the streets of a new city.