About 18 percent of people report “usually concealing their teeth in photos,” many due to being embarrassed over the yellow appearance of their teeth. Having great teeth is very important in our culture today — hence the growing number of people using white strips and whitening paste as part of their oral care at home or turning to professional in-office whitening treatments.
Below are several home remedies that help naturally whiten your teeth, while also improving overall oral hygiene. The kind of toothpaste you use plus regular brushing and flossing, using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, coconut oil pulling, and applying products like apple cider vinegar can all whiten your teeth naturally — in addition to offering benefits like antibacterial and antiseptic protection.
Why Teeth Turn Yellow
Some of the reasons teeth turn yellow, beige or brown include:
- Drinking coffee or tea
- Smoking cigarettes
- Thinning tooth enamel due to aging
- Eating a poor diet. This includes consuming lots of processed foods high in acid, including soft drinks/soda, candies or sometimes even certain fruits. Even some supplements can worsen enamel thinning due to their acid content.
- Suffering from dry mouth (since lack of saliva means less protection for enamel).
- Breathing through your mouth and having blocked nasal passages. These conditions lower the amount of saliva and prevent the teeth/mouth from remoisturizing.
- Antibiotic use
- Excessive fluoride intake, especially if this habit starts when you’re a child
- Genetic factors
Can Natural Teeth Whitening Harm Your Teeth?
One thing to be aware of when it comes to whitening teeth is that certain natural whiteners can eradicate enamel. Some teeth whiteners are just not a good idea to use, especially lemon juice. While the lemon peel is actually a good, healthy way to whiten teeth, the juice itself is simply too strong. The acid in the actual lemon juice does great for bleaching clothes, hair and getting stains out of furniture, but you wouldn’t want to put lemon juice on your teeth as a mouth gum cleaner every single day.
Eventually, the acid creates tiny holes in your teeth, and then every kind of staining type food will seep into these tiny holes and remain there. The acid from the lemons is so strong it just eventually wears away the teeth, causing cavities.
To avoid overdoing teeth whitening, start gradually, only use a small amount of any product, follow directions and pay attention to signs of worsening sensitivity.
Simple Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth At Home
Always Brush After Eating and Drinking
The best way to whiten your teeth naturally — though maybe not always the easiest — is to simply brush your teeth with an appropriate toothpaste after eating or drinking something. This takes a lot of persistence and can even be kind of difficult depending on where you are at the time of eating (such as work or school).
Avoiding smoking cigarettes, drinking too much coffee and/or soda, improving your oral hygiene overall, and eating a healthy diet can all also help prevent yellow teeth. If you do regularly drink staining beverages, do so through a straw and try to cut back. Try to drink more plain water after eating or drinking something staining or acidic to help reduce the negative effects.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an antibacterial agent and works great as a total mouth and gum cleaner and keeps the mouth free of germs. A good oral mouth rinse can be made using hydrogen peroxide.
Use half water and half hydrogen peroxide, swish around in your mouth for about one minute, and then rinse.
Research shows hydrogen peroxide keeps breath fresh by eliminating bad bacteria due to acting as a natural antiseptic/antibacterial agent. It’s also capable of providing natural protection against gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
For another way to use this product, mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with a small amount of baking soda in order to make a paste that helps remove more plaque from teeth.
A review published in the Journal of Dentistry found that in five controlled clinical studies on over 270 subjects those brushing with a baking soda dentifrice (toothpaste or powder) showed greater enhanced plaque removal effectiveness than those who used the non-baking soda tooth cleaning products.
To use these products safely to whiten your teeth, brush your teeth as usual first, making sure to reach the back of the teeth too. Baking soda is a gritty substance like sandpaper, so be careful that you have enough hydrogen peroxide mixed in with the soda — because if you don’t it can very well scrub the enamel right off your teeth.
This is a big problem, considering enamel does not grow back. The paste should not be gritty at all; in fact, it should be a runnier paste than a stiff paste. Rub the paste onto your teeth for about 30 seconds, then rinse well.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a disinfectant and natural cleaning product.
Acetic acid, which is the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar, effectively kills bacteria. The antibacterial property of vinegar is what makes it useful for cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth.
One study performed on cow teeth found that apple cider vinegar does have a bleaching effect on teeth. However, they also found that vinegar may soften the teeth.
The acetic acid in vinegar has the potential to erode the enamel on your teeth. For this reason, you should not use apple cider vinegar every day. You should also limit the amount of time that apple cider vinegar is in contact with your teeth.
To use it as a mouthwash, dilute it with water and swish it around in your mouth for several minutes. Make sure to rinse your mouth with plain water afterwards.
Fruits and Vegetables
The quality of your diet overall is highly tied to the health of your teeth. Foods that can help keep your gums and teeth strong, plus free from diseases or signs of aging, include teeth-strengthening foods like:
- Sources of calcium like yogurt or raw milk
- Foods high in magnesium and potassium like leafy green veggies, apples or pears
- Sweet potatoes, carrots or squash
- Nuts like walnuts or almonds