Take a look at a photo of just about any celebrity, and you’ll instantly notice their pearly white teeth. A gleaming smile is universally considered a very attractive feature so it’s only natural that so many people want it. But in order to get results similar to what you see with celebrities, you may need to visit a dental professional and receive special treatment (such as dental bonding). However, not everyone is willing to put in the time or the money to undergo such a procedure.
Similarly, you may not be convinced by the drugstore products advertised to produce such effects. But, that doesn’t mean you are out of options. As an alternative, you can attempt to use certain natural ways to whiten teeth. There are countless people out there who swear by these methods, and we will examine some of the more popular approaches.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration
Before we get to the ways you can whiten your teeth, we have to quickly explain what causes them to lose their shine in the first place. This is important because it will allow you to better understand what those methods are trying to accomplish and how.
There are, unfortunately, quite a few potential causes of tooth discoloration. A very common way for your teeth to darken is to stain them with food and beverages. This can also happen due to the buildup of plaque. Plaque is a sticky, soft film on your teeth, made up of countless bacteria. Those bacteria use the sugars from your food to create acids that compromise the tooth enamel.
This is another important point. Your teeth have four main components. Enamel is the one that is normally visible. It is what makes your teeth white, and that’s why it is important to protect it. Enamel is actually semitranslucent and when it erodes way, the tissue beneath it becomes more visible. This tissue is called dentin, and it is yellow, explaining why your teeth can assume this color.
Besides certain foods and plaque, there are many other reasons your teeth can get discolored. Some diseases can have this effect as can certain forms of treatment. For example, chemotherapy can do this. There are medications out there which can do the same, and a person’s genetics will also play a large role. Your teeth will also naturally lose some of their shine as you age.
Methods to Whiten Your Teeth
Now that you know what can cause your teeth to not look the way you want them to, we can examine some of the ways you can try to turn things around for the better.
Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is well-known for its teeth-whitening properties. It is an abrasive (a mild one), allowing it to scrub certain stains away. That is why you’ll often see it among the ingredients of toothpaste. A study actually compared brands of toothpaste which did and did not contain sodium bicarbonate and found that the former were better at removing tooth stains.
In addition, a study has also found that baking soda possesses antibacterial properties. Because we’ve explained what plaque is and how it affects your teeth, it’s clear how this is beneficial for their whiteness.
Having said all that, you can see that one of your options is to switch to a toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate. But, you can also make one yourself by mixing baking soda with some water. If you go for the DIY solution, make sure to continue using your regular toothpaste as well – the baking soda paste should be an added measure.
Oil pulling is a traditional technique meant to extract (or “pull”) toxins out of the body. To do it, you simply swish some oil around your mouth for around 20 minutes and then spit it out. It’s similar to how you would use mouthwash.
Its practitioners will claim it has numerous health benefits, but many of them remain unsupported. However, studies have pointed out that oil pulling can be effective against bacteria.
You can use different oils for this purpose, but coconut oil seems to be the most popular choice. It has a nice taste and, more importantly, studies like this one have shown it is effective at combating plaque. Sesame oil is another good choice – this study shows its effectiveness against Streptococcus mutans. This bacterium can significantly contribute to tooth decay, making oil pulling an effective tool in maintaining oral health.
The one downside is that the whitening effects still aren’t corroborated by research, although there is no shortage of people claiming they have experienced this outcome. But regardless of that, the effect oil pulling has on plaque and tooth decay means this technique can be a part of your overall effort to brighten up your smile.
Hydrogen peroxide is what you will find in many whitening products you can buy at the drugstore. It does the bleaching. But, you can also get and use it on its own. However, it is very important to pay close attention to the concentration. It’s best to only use a 1.5% or a 3% solution. If you can only find a stronger concentration, it’s a simple enough job to dilute it with water.
In addition to whitening teeth, hydrogen peroxide will also act as a disinfectant. This means that, aside from applying it directly to your teeth, you can also use it as a mouthwash. But, only use it sporadically to avoid irritation and immediately discontinue use if you notice anything out of the order.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has certain antibacterial properties and is a common folk remedy. Additionally, a study conducted on bovine teeth showed it also had a bleaching effect. This gives it potential as a whitening agent, but you need to limit how long your teeth are exposed to it or you risk damaging them.
The last way to whiten your teeth is to actually stop them from getting stained in the first place. We already mentioned certain foods and drinks will do this to your teeth. Dark berries, sodas, red wine, and coffee are among the better-known examples. So, you can limit your intake of such ingredients and wash out your mouth immediately after consuming them. Also, steer clear of tobacco.
There are numerous things you can do to improve your smile, and one of them is to try some of the natural ways to whiten teeth mentioned here. Obviously, none of them will work instantly. But if combined with proper dental hygiene, you might have some glistening results in the future.