How to Whiten Your Teeth Naturally

Updated August 17, 2016

Do you have dingy, dull teeth? Have they stained a yellow color from too many cups of coffee and tea or too many glasses of red wine? If you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair. You can treat your stained teeth at home with proven remedies that will remove that awful stain and give you back your beautiful, bright white smile! The best news is that you probably have most of these home remedies sitting in your cupboard right now.

Teeth whitening doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars. There are a number of natural ways to whiten and brighten without expensive chemical treatments. Here are a few ways to see noticeably whiter teeth without spending a lot of green.

Image via Flickr by Victor

Activated Charcoal

This is one of those practical jokes of the internet, except it actually works. The idea of a mouth full of charcoal is a real turn-off, and as you're doing it you'll feel like you bought prank gum from the joke store -- you know the kind that stains your teeth black -- but after using it you'll be surprised that not only are your teeth whiter than before, they might be whiter than you remember they ever were.

The success of this product is due to chemistry. The charcoal is a porous substance that adheres to the tannins (found in drinks like tea) that stain your teeth. Dip your toothbrush into activated charcoal powder and brush as usual. Be careful because it's messy.

Important to note: this is not the same product as charcoal you use for grilling.

Brushing After Known Culprits

Stains on your teeth can cause you to feel self-conscious about your smile and showing people your teeth. Should you avoid that glass of red wine or that piece of blueberry pie for fear it will stain your teeth? Of course not! Make sure you go about eating all the foods you always have, regardless if they are known culprits of teeth staining.

While most stains are products of build-up of a number of foods and drinks, brushing immediately after consuming them can go a long way in maintaining a white smile. Try and brush after drinking coffee, wine, or tea, or after consuming certain dark dyes in food. Desserts made with blueberries, like pies and cobblers, can stain your teeth as well. Brushing away the culprits before they have a chance to be absorbed can help keep teeth white as part of your regular maintenance plan.

Baking Soda

Baking soda, you know, the white powder that you use in recipes for baking and cooking as well as to remove odors from the fridge. Well, it can also help to remove those ugly stains from your teeth. Whitening your teeth using baking soda has been around for quite a long time.

This is a solution your grandparents probably told you about. Adding baking soda to your toothpaste, or mixing some with hydrogen peroxide, can help eliminate stains. Using hydrogen peroxide gives you the double positive of an anti-bacterial and gum cleaner for a cleaner mouth.

Baking soda is so hard on the teeth because of its abrasive nature. There is a scale of hardness of minerals developed by Mohr. It rates some of the hardest minerals compared to some of the softest metals. On the rating scale, a diamond is a 10, the hardest of all minerals. Tooth enamel comes in at a 5, and baking soda is a 2.5. Based on this logic, there should be no abrasive nature to baking soda. But it is a little more complicated than that. As we age, we are more at risk of our gum line receding. When the gum line recedes, it exposes the dentin underneath the enamel of the tooth. The mineral hardness of dentin is a 2.5, the same as baking soda. So as you can see, by brushing with baking soda, you could be brushing your dentin and causing yourself structural damage from the harshness of the abrasive baking soda, in addition to possibly causing tooth decay.

Don't use baking soda on its own and don't scrub with it. Its abrasive texture can damage your enamel. Once damaged, it can't be restored, but a professional can bond the tooth.

Fruit

While these suggestions seem far-fetched, many people swear by them. Whether the science is there or not is unclear but it's certainly an enjoyable teeth whitening experience. Some celebrities swear that spreading mashed up strawberries over their teeth makes them whiter instantly. Others chew on lemon or orange peels. All of these fruits are high in acid so it makes sense that they may have some whitening success. However, "high in acid" means they are dangerous to enamel. To combat this, after treatment you'll want to rinse with water or a mixture of half water and half hydrogen peroxide for at least a minute.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar seems to work as a remedy for everything! Well, here it is again. This time as a remedy for whiter teeth. Apple cider vinegar is not a quick fix. It has to be applied daily, and you will not see any results for at least a month, kind of like the gym! Take a small amount and place on your toothbrush and brush as you normally would. It is excellent at removing stains from coffee, red wine, and nicotine from smoking. Since apple cider vinegar is made from acetic acid, make sure to rinse your mouth, brush again with your regular toothpaste, and rinse your mouth again. If you do not re-brush your teeth, you are risking damaging your tooth enamel from the acid in the vinegar.

Coconut Oil

Have you heard of oil pulling? If so, this is the same concept as oil pulling, but this time to remove the ugly stains from your teeth to give them a brighter, crisper look. Use a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around in your mouth for 5-10 minutes. As an alternative, you can also place it on your toothbrush and brush your teeth as usual. The idea is that the oil removes the stain while causing an anti-inflammatory effect to the gums causing them to become pinker. This, in turn, makes your teeth look whiter.

If you're looking for whiter teeth, these natural remedies will give you some success, but if you're an avid smoker or coffee drinker, you may need a professional. Professional teeth whitening products are costly, however joining a dental savings plan can make what was once a luxury more affordable.

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