Has your daily latte habit taken its toll on your teeth? Learn how to whiten teeth without subjecting yourself to unhealthy chemicals.
You brush twice a day, and floss before bed. You don’t eat a ton of candy or drink soda. Your last three dental visits were cavity free! Essentially your teeth are completely perfect except for one, small problem: the color. A lifetime of eating and drinking causes teeth to become yellowed–it’s not you, it’s just a fact of life. But stained and discolored teeth aren’t very aesthetically pleasing these days, and they can even affect gum health.
There was a time when only dentists were taught how to whiten teeth (meaning an expensive cosmetic visit that your insurance probably doesn’t cover). To keep up with demand, however, personal care companies began launching over-the-counter tooth whitening products. Now there’s everything from toothpaste to mouthwash emblazoned with “whitening” on the label. And how exactly do they whiten your teeth? With bleaching peroxides that actually change the natural tooth color. Even if it’s done professionally, there are still side effects from whitening teeth in this manner, including tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, particularly the gums. Those interested should know that there’s no guarantee that this type of teeth whitening won’t make them sick. “Patients should be cautioned that not enough information is available to support unsupervised long-term and/or repeated use of bleaching products,” states the American Dental Association.
With 80,000 chemicals swirling around us in everyday products, I’m not about to put bleach in my mouth, thank you very much. Thankfully, it’s possible to learn how to whiten teeth without making yourself sick.
How To Whiten Teeth Without Putting Bleach In Your Mouth
1. Eat more strawberries – This red summer fruit contains vitamin C and malic acid, a natural astringent that’s capable of removing surface stains and clearing away plaque.
2. Kaolin clay – Also called “china clay” this substance is commonly used in mineral makeup recipes but can also be used in a wide variety of bath and body products. According to Woman’s Day, kaolin clay “delivers a gentle abrasive action to teeth and can be used as a natural whitening agent. For breath freshening, a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil can be added. Dampen your toothbrush and dip it into the mixture, then brush. To avoid damaging your enamel, don’t use this method more than once a week.”
3. Oil pulling – This is an ancient detoxification technique that’s recently become hip again. Basically, it involves using an unrefined, cold-pressed, organic oil like mouth wash for about 20 seconds each day. Although it sounds totally weird, there’s actually some scientific evidence that oil pulling can improve many aspects of oral health, which is good news for those who want to learn how to whiten teeth naturally.
4. Activated Charcoal – Charcoal has been used internally and topically to draw out toxins for centuries (in fact, it’s probably in your water filter). It is considered completely safe and non-toxic by the FDA. In order to become activated “charcoal is ground very fine; and then it is placed in a steam chamber. This opens up the charcoal and exposes more of its surfaces, so it can adsorb much more,” reports the blog One Good Thing. Activated charcoal is though to be one of the safest ways to whiten and deodorize your teeth. “Just dip a clean, wet toothbrush into the powdered charcoal and brush.”
5. Baking Soda – According to Dr. Oz (and many others) learning how to whiten teeth naturally starts with baking soda. Just combine baking soda and lemon juice–or baking soda, salt and a drop of peppermint essential oil–and apply using your toothbrush. The particles in the baking soda polish the surface of your teeth, while a chemical reaction with the water lightens stains.
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Image: Seth Lemmons