My teeth are killing me. Seriously, last night I woke up in the middle of the night to down some Motrin. Italics are necessary for emphasis because I don’t have kids or cats (am badly allergic to the ones that don’t use diapers). So me waking up in the middle of the night is akin to being raised from the dead. What brought me out of my usual nighttime haze? Tougher than usual workouts? Eating someone disagreeable? Watching reality TV right before bed? Nah, I’ve just been using whitening strips on my teeth.
Yes, I know. Whitening strips. Color me “duh.” But I’m getting married soon and decided since we went and hired the fancy photographer and all, I might as well flash him the pearliest whites possible. And my product of choice rated a relatively low hazard rating from the Environmental Working Group’s database. (Though the packaging rates an “I’m somehow recycling as much of this ridiculous over-packaging as possible, so help me God”.) And so, I went ahead with the project.
Now, I have sensitive teeth under the best of circumstances. A vigorous, ahem, “over-brusher,” I’ve done as more damage to my gums than any reader would ever care to hear about someone else’s gums. And the company does warn that “some people may experience sensitivity when using this product – it is temporary and not harmful.” But I didn’t think I’d be able to feel sensitivity from the very roots of my soul.
So for now, the whitening strips are being set aside, and I’m seeking gentler ways to a whiter smile. It turns out Mother Nature has some great alternative to self-inflicted tooth torture. Malic acid is an active ingredient in many sour or tart foods. It also acts as an astringent to buff away stains from coffee, tea and more. Malic acid is found in ripe grapes, so consider snacking on the tart fruits for a whiter smile.
Also, strawberries and baking soda combine to make an excellent tooth whitener. The gang at Health.com recommends combining one ripe strawberry, crushed, with ½ teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the mixture and, using a toothbrush, brush onto your teeth for five minutes. Then brush off with toothpaste and floss to remove any strawberry seeds.
But heed the warning of strawberries. Adina Carrel, DMD, is a Manhattan dentist. As she told Health.com, “this is a fast, cheap way to brighten your smile,” though she urges user to do this just once a week. According to Carrel, “be careful not to use this too often, though, as the acid could damage the enamel on your teeth.”