Whiten Your Teeth Naturally With These 4 Unexpected Helpers

In a world of Whitestripped smiles, it takes courage to do things the natural way. You might look like a temporary freak with your mouth full of black activated charcoal, but commercial bleaching and whitening products can sensitize your teeth and wear down your enamel, resulting in chompers that look permanently blueish or grey. Hot! And have you seen how much some of those whitening products cost?

These gentler natural remedies are inexpensive and incredibly simple, though it's still important to use moderation. Too much lemon juice can make your teeth porous. Use sparingly, and you'll be rewarded with a Tom Cruise-like smile.

1. Baking soda and lemon juice

Baking soda literally exfoliates your teeth, buffing away surface stains, while the citric acid in lemon juice bleaches. Make a paste of the two and brush over your teeth. This is a pretty intense remedy, because too much acid can wear away your enamel, so use it once every two weeks, and don't leave the paste on your teeth for more than a minute.

Try: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, $6, Amazon

2. Strawberries

Apparently Catherine Zeta Jones whitens her teeth with crushed strawberries, and the girl is on to something. The malic acid in strawberries is what removes surface stains, acting as an astringent. Crush up a strawberry and apply the paste to your teeth for a few minutes, then brush, floss, and rinse. Use once every two weeks.

3. Charcoal

Activated charcoal, that is — the stuff used in water filters, gas masks, and emergency poisonings. You can buy it as a loose powder or in capsule form. Activated charcoal is porous and loves to absorb impurities, which is exactly what it does for your teeth. It's also gentle on them and won't leach away your enamel, so you can use this remedy more frequently — natural DIY blogger Crunchy Betty used it every day for two weeks. You can brush with it, or mix about a half teaspoon of activated charcoal into two tablespoons of water and swish that around your mouth for several minutes. Rinse well, because you'll look like a horror movie cast member while the charcoal's coating your teeth.

Try: Nature's Way Activated Charcoal, $6, Amazon

4. Water

A glass of water is the easiest preventative way to keep your teeth white. Drink water immediately after red wine and coffee, and chug a glass after meals to keep food from sticking around and staining your teeth. You can swish it around in your mouth, too, but you may alienate friends and loved ones. Don't worry, they're return once you've got your Vanilla Sky smile back.

Image: Fotolia