If you've ever found yourself standing in the toothpaste aisle weighing the pros and cons of chemical teeth whiteners, then you likely experienced one of the following scenarios. Either you couldn't bring yourself to drop forty bucks. Or, you were worried about the bleach damaging your teeth. Sound familiar? Then let me direct your attention to some genius ways you can naturally whiten your teeth at home.
Because really, there's no denying teeth whitening is expensive. And, if you do it too often or have sensitive teeth, you aren't wrong to worry about potential negative side effects, either. "Conventional teeth whitening actually damages the teeth because it's bleach so it's the kind of thing someone might do safely on occasion, but it's not a good idea for regular use," health and wellness expert Jennie Ann Freiman, MD tells Bustle. She tells me the risks include teeth sensitivity, gum irritation, and tooth enamel erosion. (Yikes.)
While professional whitening kits or a trip to the dentist will certainly get the job done, I'm a big fan of a more natural route. If you can, for example, brush with baking soda and see the same results, why wouldn't give it a try? Read on for some other tips to naturally whiten your teeth at home, so you can save some money and your teeth.
1. Brushing With Activated Charcoal
While brushing with black charcoal may seem counterintuitive, trust me when I say this stuff is great at whitening teeth. "All you do is dump out a capsule in a cup and mix it with water, then dip your toothbrush in," says oral fitness expert Dr. Gary Glassman. "Brush your teeth with it for two or three minutes and then spit it out. Next brush your teeth with regular toothpaste and rinse." The charcoal will attract tannins — the staining compounds found in wine and coffee — and help lift them away.
2. Swishing Some Apple Cider Vinegar
If you don't already have ACV in your cabinet, go get some now. Not only is it useful for cooking and cleaning, but it's an excellent teeth whitener, too. "You can create a rinse of one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water, then gently swish around the mouth for about one minute," Glassman says. The acidity will help remove plaque and stains, and can even improve your overall oral health.
3. Brushing With Baking Soda
If you want to keep it as simple as possible, then the baking soda method is for you. All you have to do is wet your toothbrush and dip it into baking soda, then brush as usual for about two minutes, celebrity dentist Dr. April Patterson tells me. Easy as that.
4. Rubbing Teeth With A Banana Peel
Tomorrow morning, save your banana peel and then get to whitening your teeth. "All you do is take a piece of the inside of the banana peel and gently rub it around on your teeth for about two minutes," Glassman says. "The high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and manganese in the ripe banana can be applied to the teeth to remove stains and whiten them."
5. Or An Orange Peel
Don't have any bananas? Then let an orange peel sit on your teeth for three to five minutes. "The white part of the orange skin between the surface and the meat of the fruit contains d-limonene, which is an amazing natural compound," Glassmany says. "It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help remove stains from your teeth."
6. Oil Pulling With Coconut Oil
If you have some coconut oil and an extra 15 minutes, then give oil pulling a try. As Glassman says, "Swishing it in your mouth, in and out of your teeth will do the trick." This is all thanks to the oil's antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties which kills bacteria, removes plaque, and lets your teeth's natural whiteness shine through.
7. Crunching On Some Carrots
Crunchy vegetables like carrots can act at a natural toothbrush, Glassman tells me. Others, like cucumbers, celery, and broccoli can increase your saliva, which helps get rid of tooth stains. All easy (and healthy) ways to whiten your teeth.
8. Eating Cheese With Your Wine
We all know that wine (very sadly) stains teeth. But there is something you can do to help prevent it. "To neutralize each kind of wine just take a bite of cheese before you sip from the glass," says UK-based dentist Dr. Michael Fahami, in an email to Bustle. "Calcium in the cheese will create a film over your teeth, preventing any erosion from the wine's acidity." Genius, right?
9. Brushing With Margosa Leaves
Margosa, or neem leaves, are another natural way to whiten teeth. As Fahami tells me, all you do is create a paste with the leaves and rub it on your teeth. They're easy to find at a health food store (or online), so I say go ahead and give it a try.
10. Combining Strawberries With Baking Soda
If you're in the mood for a little science experiment, give the ol' strawberry/baking soda combo a try. Simply crush a strawberry to a pulp, add baking soda until blended, then brush for about four minutes. "Strawberries contain malic acid, which acts as an astringent to remove surface discoloration on your teeth," Glassman says. And the baking soda is a base as well as a mild abrasive. It's really the perfect mixture for whitening teeth.
11. Brushing With Turmeric
Turmeric may be a bright yellow color, but it still works surprisingly well as a teeth whitener. To whip up a mixture, Freiman suggests combining 1/8 of a teaspoon into about 1/4 teaspoon coconut oil. Brush with the paste for two minutes, let it soak in for an additional two minutes, then rinse with water. While it will stain your toothbrush, it'll magically de-stain your teeth.
And, just like that, you can have naturally whiter teeth without having to spend a ton of money or damage your enamel.
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