Our smiles are precious commodities. They brighten rooms and open doors. A smile can create a friend where one did not exist just moments before. There’s magic in that. A flash of teeth and a crinkle around the eyes alters your mood, provides new opportunities at work or in love, and gives someone a reason to smile back. We save them up and use them too infrequently, sometimes because we’re embarrassed by them.
If your smile has seen better days, has been yellowed by food and time, you can bring those not-so-pearly whites back to their previous luster—or at least much closer—without having to go to the dentist for expensive and chemically harsh whitening procedures. Luckily nature provides a few options to try first.
Fiber Rich Foods – Munching on raw apples, celery, broccoli, carrots, and cucumber helps polish teeth, remove stains, and keep your teeth and gums healthy. Any crisp and crunchy fruit or vegetable will do, so you can choose your favorites.
Strawberries – This sounds strange, but so many people swear by it. Mash up fresh strawberries and spread them on your teeth. Let them sit for a couple minutes and then rinse them off. You can mix the pulp with baking soda for more effect.
Fruit Peels – The white insides of many fruit peels can help buff away stains, remineralize teeth, and whiten those chompers. Orange and lemon peels are a good choice. Banana peels work too. Rinse with water afterward to neutralize any acid that can damage enamel. Don’t use straight lemon juice either. It might take off some yellow layers, but it’s also wearing away your enamel.
Charcoal – Activated charcoal binds to toxins and helps remove them. They do the same thing for your teeth. Make a paste and rub it over your teeth. Let it sit a minute and then rinse it well. The charcoal will take bacteria, stains, and food particles with it.
Oil – Many compounds can only be dissolved in oil, so oil can help remove many stains and bacteria that stick to teeth. Olive, sesame, or coconut oil work well and have pleasant flavors. Put a tablespoon or two in your mouth and swish the oil through your teeth for a few minutes, roll it around, and even gargle with it. Then spit it out and rinse your mouth. That’s all there is to it.
Saliva – Your saliva is pretty powerful stuff, designed to begin digestion, remove stains, kill bacteria, remineralize teeth, and even kill pain. Let it go to work. After a meal, take a moment to rub your tongue along your teeth to remove bits of food. Then stimulate your saliva glands and swirl the fresh saliva along your teeth. This may sound gross, but we all have saliva for a reason. Use it.
Hydrogen Peroxide – Most professional tooth whiteners use some form of peroxide, though in very concentrated amounts. What you have under the sink in your bathroom isn’t remotely as strong, but it is still the strongest of these natural tips while still gentle enough to do once a week. Swish a couple tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide around your mouth like mouthwash and then rinse well. Don’t swallow any though. Hydrogen peroxide you buy in stores isn’t food grade and may contain some impurities.
Toothpaste – You can easily make your own polishing toothpaste to remove stains. Combine baking soda, coconut oil, and a couple drops of peppermint oil to make a very effective toothpaste. You don’t want to use it every day though, as it is highly abrasive. Use this only two to three times a week. You can also add a little hydrogen peroxide to this mixture for more whitening power. You will notice a difference right away. Once again, don’t swallow, rinse well, and use it infrequently, and your pearly whites will be more white in no time.