Almost 40% of the UK public are “unhappy” with the appearance of their teeth, while 48% are “fairly happy”, the 2022 Great British Oral Health Report reveals. Stains and discolouration are one of the biggest reasons why people may feel insecure about their smile. Although over-the-counter whitening products are effective, they can damage teeth over time. Fortunately, a number of natural methods are available to brighten your smile without causing damage or sensitivity.
Try activated charcoal
Although you may not think it to look at it, activated charcoal — an odourless, fine black powder made from things like coal, wood, coconut shell, peat, or petroleum — can work as a natural stain remover.
Activated charcoal is both abrasive and absorbent, which means it has the potential to remove discolouration, pigments, and stains from your teeth.
If you’re interested in trying this natural whitening method, sprinkle a small amount of activated charcoal onto a wet toothbrush, and gently brush your teeth for two minutes.
Be careful not to be too aggressive — otherwise, you risk stripping away the enamel, which results in sensitivity. Spit out the activated charcoal once you’re done, and rinse your mouth with water.
Alternatively, you can use your finger to dab the charcoal onto your teeth — you don’t even need to use your toothbrush. In fact, this may be a better option if you want to minimise the abrasiveness of the charcoal. Leave on for two minutes before rinsing your mouth out with water.
Wash away bacteria
Water plays a key role in dental health by keeping your mouth clean. A simple drink of water washes away lingering bacteria and residue with the potential to stain your teeth.
So, remember to stay hydrated throughout the day, and drink water after every snack and meal.
Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water is another way to whiten your teeth naturally, while also keeping your gums healthy. Mix one teaspoon of salt in warm water, and use it to rinse your mouth just as you would mouthwash.
A salt water rinse is also a gentle and effective toothache home remedy. As salt has antibacterial properties, it can keep the affected tooth clean until you’re ready to see a dentist for treatment.
And, don’t underestimate the importance regular flossing has in maintaining healthy gums and brightening your smile. Ideally, you should floss every day, and potentially more than once — for instance, you may find it beneficial to floss after every meal to get rid of pesky food or debris stuck between your teeth.
Since flossing eliminates lingering bacteria and prevents plaque buildup — something that results in tooth decay and yellowing over time — this healthy habit can play a key role in helping you maintain a white, stain-free smile.
Although fluoride itself isn’t a whitening agent, it works to reinforce enamel and prevent decay, which, in turn, brightens your smile. So, stop rinsing your mouth with water after brushing your teeth. Simply spit out the toothpaste instead to ensure the fluoride stays in your mouth for longer.
This healthy habit is all the more important after you brush your teeth before bed as the fluoride then has the opportunity to coat your teeth overnight.
Also, consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Although they’re undoubtedly more expensive than manual brushes, your investment will pay off in the long-run with a healthier smile.
Several meta-analyses have found electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque. In one study, after three months of use, people who used electric toothbrushes had 11% less gingivitis and 20% better plaque removal than those using basic manual brushes.
If left to build up, plaque eventually hardens into tartar, which stains your teeth off-white or yellow — so effective plaque removal is key to a winning smile.
However, the technique is everything when it comes to effectively brushing your teeth and keeping plaque and bacteria at bay for good. It doesn’t matter how good your toothbrush is if you’re not using it correctly.
So, ideally, you should be tilting your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline. Gently move your toothbrush in small circles to get rid of any trapped food debris and plaque.
It’s also important to spend at least a full two minutes on each teeth-brushing session, ensuring you target the front, back, and chewing surface of each and every tooth — and, don’t forget about hard-to-reach spots like your molars! Brushing your teeth the proper way is essential for keeping your smile fresh, happy, and healthy for life.
Teeth whitening doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive — and you don’t need to resort to over-the-counter products, either. By trying a variety of effective natural whitening methods, you can successfully achieve a bigger, brighter smile in no time.