What do the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns, and banana peel teeth-whitening strips all have in common? You guessed it. They’re all myths. Except for Nessie—she’s out there somewhere. Don’t judge us… we all have to believe in something.
When it comes to oral and dental health, however, we’re all about the facts. And for reasons that perhaps only Big Foot can explain, the internet is awash with the claim that banana peels can whiten your teeth. According to this movie-script-worthy urban legend, you can brighten your smile by rubbing your teeth for ten minutes with the inside of a banana peel.
There’s one WikiHow article on it, a whole Quora conversation dedicated to it, and more social media influencers touting this “natural whitener” than there are sightings of UFOs. Ok, maybe we’re exaggerating on that last point but you get the idea.
As dentists and dental hygienists, we deal with more than our fair share of teeth-whitening related myths. While most of them are pretty harmless, others can have a detrimental—and perhaps even permanent—impact on dental and oral hygiene.
Truth-sleuths and fact-checkers know just how difficult it can be to debunk deeply entrenched myths even when they have no supporting scientific evidence. That’s why we’d like to address the myth of the “banana peel teeth whitening treatment” before it has a chance to stick to anything other than inside of a green bin. Read through to make sure that you don’t get “slipped up” by this myth.
Bananas Are Rich in Minerals
On the one hand, this myth might seem reasonable: bananas are good for you, what’s good for you is good for your teeth, therefore smear bananas all over your teeth. If you twist your head and bend over sideways, that’s a pretty straight line of reasoning.
There’s definitely no doubt that bananas themselves can be a healthy snack, allergies, and intolerances notwithstanding. They’re full of potassium, magnesium and manganese, and other minerals that your body—and teeth—needs. But, once you’re done chomping down on the banana itself, throw that peel into the compost. Trust us, banana peels do not have a second life as an at-home teeth whitening product.
If anything, banana peels have the potential to do more harm to your teeth than good. One of the most common ways to whiten your teeth is through a chemical reaction with a compound called “papain”. Papain is a type of protease—fancy dentist-talk for “enzyme that whitens teeth by breaking down the organic substances on the surface of your teeth”—that you can find in most whitening toothpaste. As it turns out, banana peels are protease inhibitors—that’s just more fancy dentist-talk for “they prevent papain from whitening your teeth”.
Instead of giving you a brighter smile, banana peels can prevent scientifically proven compounds found in whitening toothpaste from doing their job.
Bananas definitely can provide your body with some of the minerals necessary for maintaining oral and dental hygiene. But it’s best to let your body find out where it needs those minerals most.
Banana Peels Remove Stains
Depending on how severely stained teeth are, teeth whitening processes can be as simple as gently scrubbing away the stains. That’s essentially what we’re doing every time we brush our teeth. Twice daily and for two minutes each day, right?
More abrasive substances such as activated charcoal or baking soda can, if used properly, remove more stains than softer substances. Softer substances like banana peels. A banana’s mushy skin isn’t nearly as abrasive as the average toothbrush or toothpaste—and a lot less minty—so it’s doubtful that you would be able to remove surface stains from your teeth with a banana peel that you couldn’t with a simple toothbrush.
Similarly, bananas and banana peels have a pretty high pH level, meaning that they aren’t acidic enough to whiten your teeth. Even if they did have a sufficiently high level of acidity to make your teeth whiter, they would likely only present more problems than they solve.
Acidic substances erode the protective enamel coating on your teeth and repeated use can, apart from increasing your teeth’s sensitivity, also lead to periodontal disease. Furthermore, a highly acidic mouth encourages the growth of bad bacteria.
If you’re thinking about using an acidic solution to whiten your teeth—such as a whitening gel—it’s best to consult with your dentist first.
Trust Your Dentist
At-home teeth whitening solutions might seem appealing but they are, oftentimes, just myths. When it comes to teeth whitening, banana peels are about as useful—and tasty—as a handful of dirt.
If you want your smile to be as white as it can be, Portrait Dental offers best-in-class teeth whitening services that we promise will leave you with a picture-perfect smile.
The banana peels are good for slipping on. And that’s about it.