At-home Remedies for Whitening Your Smile

The rise of cosmetic dentistry and over-the-counter teeth whitening kits has made it much easier to get a white smile. If you’re trying to watch your budget or are concerned about the higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide in over-the-counter whitening strips, it’s a little harder to achieve that stunningly white grin. The internet has a host of solutions, but it’s hard to tell which ones actually work and which may be harmful to your teeth. Some solutions suggested on the internet actually do both, removing surface stains on your teeth at the cost of your enamel. 

Thankfully, there are safe, natural ways to whiten your teeth. Results from natural whitening methods won’t be as dramatic or sudden as results from professional whitening treatments, but they’re affordable and produce noticeable improvements over time. Here are 10 simple and safe ways to whiten teeth naturally at home. 

1. Try oil pulling.

Oil pulling requires investing some time into your oral health, as it involves swishing oil around in your mouth for fifteen minutes each day. That sounds like a long time, but it’ll pass quickly if you watch TV or read while you do it. When you spit out the oil, spit it into a trash can instead of down your sink; the oil can solidify and clog your pipes. 

Coconut oil is often used for its taste and proven oral health benefits, such as improving gingivitis, removing plaque, killing bacteria, and reducing inflammation. It’s important to note that while many people claim that oil pulling whitens their teeth, there aren’t any scientific studies to back this up yet. It certainly won’t hurt to give it a try, though, and will likely even benefit your overall oral health. 

2. Brush with baking soda toothpastes.

Baking soda has long been acknowledged as an effective way to whiten your teeth; it’s a key ingredient in many whitening toothpastes. Although baking soda will whiten your teeth, it’s not recommended for at-home use outside of a toothpaste. The reason for that is it’s a little abrasive, meaning it can damage your enamel if you use it too often or scrub too hard. Additionally, you shouldn’t use baking soda as a replacement for toothpaste. 

3. Use turmeric.

Although it’s bright orange in color, turmeric is widely reported to be great for whitening teeth. Turmeric has a range of great health benefits, some of which can impart on your mouth. The herb is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, so it reduces swelling in your gums and fights bacteria, even helping to fight against gingivitis. So although there aren’t any studies proving it will whiten your teeth, there are enough personal accounts and additional benefits to make it worth a try; the worst turmeric will do is stain your toothbrush yellow. 

Whether you choose to use it as a powder or a paste, you should gently brush your teeth with the turmeric before letting it sit on your teeth for five minutes. Then, rinse your mouth until it’s free of turmeric and begin your usual oral hygiene routine.

4. Clean your teeth with activated charcoal.

For centuries, activated charcoal has been used to treat people who have been poisoned, as it is extremely good at binding itself to just about anything. Some people argue that it’s this quality that makes activated charcoal ideal for whitening your teeth at home; once again, there are no scientific studies supporting this yet, but plenty of people swear by it. 

Activated charcoal can be used as a powder or mixed with water to make a paste, but it’s important to note that it can be abrasive; you should limit how often you use it, and always check the coarseness of the powder before you buy it to ensure that it won’t damage your enamel. Its relative dentin abrasivity level (RDA) should be no more than 250.   

Accidentally ingesting activated charcoal may hinder the effectiveness of any medications you might have taken recently, as the charcoal will absorb some of the medication. The goal of using it as a whitening treatment certainly isn’t to ingest it, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re on important prescription medications. Additionally, the charcoal can stain fabrics and countertops, so be careful not to spill it. 

5. Buy or make whitening toothpaste.

Whitening toothpastes are a proven way to remove surface stains from your teeth. If you’d like a natural toothpaste but want to avoid the expense of buying it, you can opt to make some yourself. You should be careful about what ingredients you choose to put in your toothpaste, however, as the acidity or abrasiveness of common suggestions, such as lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, are awful for your teeth, eroding your enamel over time. Research the ingredients carefully before you make your toothpaste to ensure that they aren’t too acidic or abrasive.   

6. Rinse with salt water.

Salt water rinses have been used to cleanse wounds and remove bacteria for centuries. Gargling with warm salt water can help disinfect and heal any sores in your mouth, reduce swelling, and kill off bacteria. Some claim that it also whitens teeth, but there’s no evidence for this. If you do choose to give a salt water rinse a try, you should be careful not to gargle too long, as this can dry your mouth out. 

7. Chew sugar-free gum.

Sugar-free gum can actually be very good for your teeth, as it can remove stuck-on food debris and aids in saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s natural cleaner, flushing debris from your mouth and lowering its acidity level. This helps to prevent tooth decay and can keep your teeth from staining in the first place. 

8. Adjust your diet.

It’s well-known that some foods are bad for your teeth, but many of these foods also cause more staining. A great way to whiten teeth naturally at home is to prevent more stains from appearing. Limit the amount of staining foods you eat, like tomato sauce and curry. Instead, try adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Crunchy vegetables, like carrots and celery, act as a natural toothbrush by getting plaque off your teeth, while those with a high water content, like melons, help flush out food debris and increase saliva production. 

9. Drink water.

Water is great for your teeth; it lowers your mouth’s acidity level, flushes food debris from in between teeth, and increases saliva production. All of this actively helps prevent staining and maintains your oral health. If you want to keep your teeth white, a great way to help yourself along is to drink more water. Dark drinks, like coffee and tea, stain your teeth, so try to reduce how much you’re drinking of these beverages; when you do drink them, use a straw. Paired with another natural whitening technique, this can help your teeth get whiter faster and stay white longer by reducing the amount of staining your teeth accumulates. 

10. Practice great oral hygiene.

Another way to prevent staining and aid other whitening techniques is to practice great oral hygiene. If you let bacteria and food sit on your teeth, they’re going to accumulate more stains. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day, as well as flossing and using mouthwash at least once a day to prevent staining. It’s often underestimated how much flossing will help your teeth look brighter. If you allow stains to accumulate on the sides of your teeth, the rest of your teeth will look darker, too. Making sure your teeth are healthy and clean will go a long way toward helping them stay white. 

These whitening techniques are inexpensive and simple to try and whiten teeth naturally at home. Despite the lack of official studies, countless people believe that methods such as oil pulling and turmeric have whitened their teeth. Additionally, many of these methods provide proven health benefits that could improve your overall oral health. If you’re considering a tooth whitening method you’re not sure about, feel free to give Dr. Monroe a call to ask for his advice.