Self

10 Ways To Naturally Whiten Your Teeth For A Brighter Smile

Photo: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock
woman with white teeth

While we are all born with different shades of enamel, our teeth yellows over time for a variety of reasons, some of which you may not have even realized are contributing to your "yellowing" smile.

But who doesn't want to dazzle and captivate other people with a bright, white smile? That all starts with learning the best methods for how to whiten your teeth naturally and quickly.

Models don't get paid to flash their pearly "yellows," and there's nothing more charming than a gorgeous smile. It's why you probably went through years of orthodontic work to make your chompers look straight and pretty!

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What causes yellow teeth or discoloration?

There are a few culprits that are killing your white smile and causing your teeth to turn yellow, including coffee, soda, chocolate, red wine, acidic foods, soy sauce, alcohol, vinegar, and smoking.

Additionally, a build-up of plaque can cause yellow coloration, or this can happen due to erosion of the enamel on your teeth, which reveals the dentin below it; dentin is naturally yellow.

Though you may love the food or drinks listed above, like coffee or red wine, it's not realistic that you will completely remove lattes or a glass of wine with dinner from your diet. But don't despair!

With the tricks and tips listed below, you can whiten your teeth and improve your smile, all while still enjoying your favorite drinks and foods.

Here are 10 ways to whiten your teeth naturally at home.

1. Drink through a straw

Use a straw to enjoy beverages like the ones above that cause yellowing. Drinking through a straw means the liquid has limited contact with your teeth. However, be aware that drinking too much of stain-causing liquids can still lead to acid damage.

2. Baking soda

Though baking soda won't whiten your teeth overnight, it naturally whitens teeth, hence why it's used so often in toothpaste. Not only does its mildly abrasive chemical composition brush away stains, but it can prevent bacteria from growing in the mouth due to its alkaline properties.

Be sure to mix baking soda with water; don't apply the baking soda to teeth directly. Then, brush your teeth with the baking soda and water mixture.

3. Hydrogen peroxide

Just like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria in the mouth and naturally "bleaches" teeth. When using hydrogen peroxide to white teeth, it's important to keep in mind that a highly concentrated amount, or when used too often, can cause irritation.

This method usually includes using a 1.5% or 3% solution as a mouthwash. However, you can dilute it further by adding water. You can also combine hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to make a paste.

4. Water

Because certain things you drink or eat can damage your teeth, after drinking or eating any of your favorite yellowing drinks or foods, like coffee or soda, rinse your mouth out with water, and brush your teeth right away if you can. Doing so will restore your mouth's pH.

5. Coconut oil-pulling

Known as Ayurvedic oil pulling, this practice dates back to India and is used to remove toxins and bacteria from the mouth. Simply take 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Then, spit; don't swallow! Rinse your mouth afterward.

6. Orange oil

Believe it or not, orange oil can help whiten your smile. That's because orange peel contains D-limonene, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

Take 2 drops of orange oil and put it on your dry toothbrush. Then, brush for 2 minutes and rinse.

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7. Turmeric

Studies have found that turmeric can help prevent gum disease and gingivitis, though it takes more time to be effective for whitening teeth.

Add turmeric powder to your toothbrush directly, brushing your teeth with it and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Then, rinse and brush your teeth with your toothpaste as you normally would.

8. Strawberries and baking soda

More delicious than some of the above alternatives, simply mash one or two strawberries and add them to baking soda. Then, brush your teeth with the mixture and leave on for about 2 minutes, rinsing with water.

It should be noted, however, that using strawberries may clear plaque temporarily from your teeth, but overuse can cause cavities or a loss of tooth enamel.

9. Whitening strips

Whitening strips are nice to use, as whitening trays require a trip to the dentist. Plus, the strips are cheaper and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

You'll have to experiment with various brands to see which works best, but note that the strips tend to move around in your mouth, which can make results patchy.

10. Electric toothbrush

Using an electric toothbrush means you'll have to change the head more regularly, but using this kind of toothbrush is shown to be more effective than a regular toothbrush. That means your teeth will be cleaner and whiter.

You can even brush with teeth-whitening toothpaste, which includes baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide, to really get the stains off.

Other Unproven Methods

Activated charcoal: While some people swear by this method, brushing with powdered charcoal and rinsing, studies have found this technique to likely be ineffective. Still, activated charcoal can remove surface stains from teeth.

Apple cider vinegar: Though this is another popular method, apple cider vinegar is acidic and can cause tooth decay and weaken the enamel.

The Bottom Line

The best way to whiten your teeth is to be mindful of ingesting food and drink that cause staining, have proper oral hygiene routines, take a trip to the dentist at least once a year, and add certain foods to your diet.

Be sure to regularly brush your teeth and floss them, reducing the bacteria in your mouth and preventing plaque from building up on your teeth. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice per day, for two minutes each time.

Limit the amount of teeth-staining beverages and foods — like coffee, red wine, and dark berries — and brush after eating or drinking them. You should also limit how much sugar you eat, as sugar can cause bacteria to build up, causing gingivitis.

Finally, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can actually rub plaque off your teeth as you chew them, especially fruits like strawberries and watermelon, which contain malic acid, a chemical that has bleaching properties. Pineapple also has an enzyme called bromelain, which is said to remove stains.

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Laura Lifshitz is a former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate who writes about divorce, relationships, parenting, marriage and more for YourTango, The New York Times, Women’s Health, Working Mother, and PopSugar.

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