Around one-fifth of people admit to hiding their teeth in photos. Many said they did so because they were embarrassed over their discoloured appearance.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why teeth stop looking so bright and white — just a couple of common causes include drinking lots of coffee, thinning tooth enamel, smoking cigarettes and unavoidable genetic factors. With so many causes behind tooth discolouration, a little yellowing over time is inevitable.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do!
In this blog, I’ll give you seven completely natural ways you can whiten your teeth at home. If you’ve got any other homemade remedies, don’t forget to tell us about them in the comments.
Baking soda is just as useful in the bathroom as it is in the kitchen! A mild abrasive, baking soda rubs the surface of your teeth, gently buffing out the stains.
In fact, a lot of kinds of toothpaste actually contain sodium bicarbonate (the chemical name for baking soda) which goes to show how effective it is.
Several studies have shown that brushing with products that contain baking soda successfully reduce surface stains over time so stop baking and start scrubbing! If you can’t find a toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate, just sprinkle some baking soda on your regular toothpaste and get brushing.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used for hundreds of years as a natural cleaning product. Its active ingredient (the thing that actually gives it all the benefits) is acetic acid, which helps kill bacteria. Swishing cider vinegar through your mouth helps keep your teeth healthy and white.
One recent study found that cider vinegar has a bleaching effect on teeth although it was also shown to soften the teeth as well.
If you want to try cider vinegar for yourself, don’t use it every day, limit the time it’s in contact with your teeth and rinse your mouth with plain water afterwards.
Coconut Oil Pulling
Coconut oil is the hot superfood right now, helping health-conscious people supercharge their meals. Well, I’ve got more good news. Coconut oil isn’t just great for calming hunger pangs, improving cholesterol and moisturising your skin. It can help your teeth too!
So how does it work? Simply spoon a dollop of coconut oil into your mouth and swish it around for between five and 20 minutes. The oil dissolves biofilm and plaque and generally cleans out your mouth.
Not only will it help with whitening but coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties means your gums will stay healthy too.
A study in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Hygiene concluded:
Edible oil-pulling therapy is natural, safe and has no side effects. Hence, it can be considered as a preventive therapy at home to maintain oral hygiene.
Crunchy Fruits and Veggies
Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, carrots and peppers work a little like a natural toothbrush. Munching on a carrot helps remove excess food from your mouth and prevent the buildup of bacteria. The crunchy foods scrub the surface of your teeth, keeping them bright and shiny.
If we’re going to single out one fruit in particular, it’d be apples, which contain malic acid. Malic acid is the whitening chemical in teeth whitening products, which means apples pull double duty, both cleaning and whitening the surface of your teeth.
Calcium-rich foods and drinks
As we mentioned in the intro, discolouration can be caused by your enamel wearing away and exposing the dentin underneath. If you want to play the long game, you should eat and drink lots of calcium-rich foods and drinks to help keep your enamel healthy and strong.
Common calcium-rich foods and drinks include almond milk, cheese, almonds, kale, yogurt and broccoli. But remember, too much cheese is not good for you as it’s high in saturated fat which we shouldn’t consume in abundance!
Cut down on staining drinks
Okay, this isn’t technically a way to whiten your teeth. It’s more like a way to stop your teeth getting discoloured in the first place.
Some foods are inherently more staining than others. For example, jet black liquorice will discolour teeth more than white wine.
The two most infamous drinks are probably coffee and red wine, which are busy discolouring teeth up and down the countries.
The goods news is that you don’t have to completely cut out discolouring food and drink as any reduction will help reduce the staining on your teeth.
Brushing and flossing
Finally, our favourite tip of all: Brush and floss your teeth. Okay, I admit that this tip probably won’t surprise you but that doesn’t mean it won’t help.
Proper brushing helps buff stains off the surface of your teeth and flossing gets rid of excess foods that could harden into plaque. Together they keep your teeth healthy, strong and gleaming.
Angela Rowlands // Co-founder at Buttercup 7 Day Dental
Angela grew up in Glasgow and was a distinguished student at Glasgow University, graduating with honours in 2004 with the William Hunter Medal in Prosthodontics, the James Rankin Brownlie prize for Dental Surgery and the Lord Provost’s prize. Angela founded Buttercup in 2011 with Gerwyn Rowlands.