Natural Teeth Whitening
One of the first things we see when we come face to face with someone is their smile – are the teeth pearly whites or yucky yellows? We are all after that lovely white smile and, although the products you can buy at the store are effective and proven to work well, there are also some DIY at-home concoctions that are effective as well.
But first let’s talk about HOW teeth whitening works! Just like our skin, our teeth have teeny, tiny little pores that can get clogged. If you were to look at a tooth with an electron microscope, you’d see that a tooth’s pores can get clogged, too, almost like having blackheads in your skin’s pores! Teeth whitening products, whether a DIY type or the store-bought kind, basically flush out these pores and get rid of those “dental blackheads”. those pores aren’t clogged, there’s a clean, open canal into the center of the tooth, which is why teeth can become sensitive if you leave teeth whitening products on for too long. Just reduce the amount of time you are using teeth whitening product to reduce that sensitivity, and don’t worry, you will still get the effect you’re looking for.
Here are some DIY options for whitening that pretty smile of yours:
1) Baking Soda – (1 tsp baking soda + 2 tsp water, mix into a paste and brush with this instead of toothpaste). Some of the whitest smiles I see in my dental office are from people who brush with baking soda instead of tooth paste. Baking soda is a natural whitener and is also mildly abrasive, which will remove plaque and surface stains. It also temporarily creates an alkaline environment in your mouth, which decreases your risk for cavities. It’s 100% safe and is a cheap, effective way to brighten that smile.
2) Hydrogen Peroxide – It’s very important to use a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide, as high concentrations can damage your teeth and gums! You can use a 1.5-3% diluted solution as a mouth rinse a few times a week for effective tooth whitening.
3) Baking Soda + Hydrogen Peroxide – (1 tsp baking soda + 2 tsp hydrogen peroxide) Why not combine these two effective ingredients into a super potion? Many of the whitening toothpastes that are found in stores contain hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or both, so why not make your own and skip the middle man?
4) Activated charcoal – This is different than your regular ol charcoal for the BBQ grill, so please don’t go out to the tool shed and slather your teeth with regular charcoal! Activated charcoal is a special kind of charcoal that pulls tannins out of your dental pores. Tannins are found in coffee, tea, wine, fruits, etc. and while they make our food and drink delicious, they can collect in those dental pores and cause staining. Brushing with activated charcoal turns your teeth black while brushing, so make sure to rinse and floss well after you use it.
5) Coconut oil – oil pulling is a popular way to reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth, particularly Streptococcus Mutans, which is the main bacteria that causes dental cavities. Many people report that they have whiter teeth after regular oil pulling, but it is not scientifically proven as a reliable tooth whitening method. Sesame oil and other types of oil can be used as well, but coconut oil’s flavor is much more agreeable.
6) Apple Cider Vinegar – although this has been proven to whiten teeth, it is also very acidic. Acid on the teeth can cause the enamel layer of the tooth to become soft and more prone to dental cavities. Not worth it! If you absolutely insist on using apple cider vinegar, it’s better to dilute it and not leave it on the teeth for too long and rinse with water after using it.
7) Fruit + Baking Soda - Some celebrities have touted using strawberries or pineapple mixed with baking soda as a tooth whitening, but both of those fruits are very acidic as well. Other DIY recipes recommend using lemon juice and baking soda, which is incredibly acidic and very bad for your enamel. In fact, I’ve seen people have to have their teeth pulled and get dentures because they frequently ate lemons, sucked on lemons, or drank a lot of lemonade, so please don’t put your teeth at risk!Dr. Cassondra Phillipsen, DMD
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