If you’ve been looking to get a brighter and whiter smile, then you have probably been considering teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening (done either in-office or using home whitening kits such as whitening strips) may indeed have positive results, but these methods can be expensive, time-consuming, and they use a bleaching abrasive agent which some people may not be comfortable exposing their teeth to. These teeth whitening methods have also been known to cause teeth sensitivity and pain.
Below is a list of 5 different methods that you can do on your own to whiten your teeth. These are cheaper alternatives using only natural and safe remedies that you can find at home.
These methods have been proven to work, so give some of the techniques listed below a try if you’re looking to get that natural pearly white smile at the comfort of your own home.
Yellow stains on teeth
If you find that your smile is not as bright as it once was and is looking slightly yellow, this is most likely due to teeth staining.
This type of tooth discoloration happens when the outer surface of the tooth, the enamel, gets stained by certain products such as foods, drinks, and smoking. This is known as extrinsic (external) staining.
The most common causes of yellow teeth are:
- Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing your teeth enough can cause plaque to form. Plaque is a thin film consisting of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can be removed by brushing.
- Red Wine
There are also other types of teeth staining, some stains on teeth could be because of a more serious problem that could be because of a problem from the inside of a tooth. These types of teeth staining require more serious dental work and so won’t benefit form any homemade teeth whitening remedies.
So it’s important to check with your dentist first to make sure the cause of your yellow teeth is just because of staining and that the stain can be removed through whitening methods.
It’s also really important to remember these are just home remedies for getting whiter teeth and in no way whatsoever do they replace your normal toothpaste. Use these recipes just to brighten your smile and not to clean your teeth, continue brushing your teeth normally using a fluoride toothpaste in addition to using these recipes.
DIY Home Teeth Whitening Methods
1. Whitening teeth with Baking Soda:
One of the most common DIY home teeth whitening methods, brushing your teeth with baking soda has been proven to remove stains and whiten teeth, and has even been confirmed by the American Dental Association (1).
Studies have shown that increasing the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) content in a toothpaste dentifrice can increase the teeth whitening effect (2).
This is because baking soda is a mild abrasive, and so enters within the outer tooth surface (enamel) and breaks down larger particles that cause our teeth to stain.
How to brush your teeth with baking soda:
Mix baking soda with some water to create a slight paste, and use it on your toothbrush. Brushing your teeth with baking soda a couple of times a week will cause your smile to brighten up, if you don’t see any results, try brushing with baking soda daily instead.
Use a soft toothbrush, and use gentle circular brushing strokes. Avoid brushing very aggressively as this can damage your teeth.
Can baking soda harm your teeth?
Baking soda has been proven to whiten teeth more effectively than other whitening products that use a stronger abrasive. The abrasive in baking soda is considered mild and so it is safe to gently brush your teeth with it.
Make sure that you continue brushing your teeth normally with fluoride toothpaste. The baking soda is just to whiten your teeth and cannot replace regular toothpaste as it doesn’t have any fluoride.
2. Oil Pulling to get whiter teeth:
Oil pulling is a method were oil (an anti-bacterial) is rinsed around in the mouth, and catches all the bacteria and toxins. Traditionally coconut oil is usually used, but olive oil can work just as well.
You just need to rinse your mouth with the oil, and continue brushing your teeth with normal toothpaste like you would normally do.
Studies have shown that when used as an adjunct along with proper oral hygiene, using oil-pulling can be quite beneficial to your overall oral health (3). So be sure to continue your routine normally of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, but also add an oil-pulling rinse to this routine to get even more benefits.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide for teeth whitening:
Hydrogen peroxide is an abrasive that is commonly found in whitening toothpastes. It’s quite effective in teeth whitening, and is found to be more successful and safer than activated charcoal (4).
Some studies have also shown that mixing hydrogen peroxide with baking soda will have a more powerful effect. It’s a powerful bleaching agent and can be rinsed in the mouth with water to produce a whitening affect.
As a powerful abrasive, hydrogen peroxide can be quite harmful to your teeth, so use it only a once or twice per week.
4. Banana Peel teeth whitening:
Even though there isn’t much evidence to prove the claim that banana peels actually do provide a whitening effect on teeth, many people do seem to recommend it, especially users active on social media and Instagram.
Unlike other fruits that have been suggested for teeth whitening (such as strawberries and oranges), bananas are not acidic and will not pose a harmful erosive effect on your teeth.
High in potassium, bananas are a healthy food, but if their skin can indeed be used for teeth whitening is still to be entirely proven, but there is definitely no harm in trying it for yourself. Eat a banana a day, and rather than throwing the peel away, rub it on your teeth for 10-15 minutes.
5. Whitening teeth with Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid and over prolonged use may cause damage to the hardness and surface configuration of teeth. If you’re experiencing more sensitivity than normal after using vinegar to whiten your teeth, then stop it’s use. (5)
Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used as an anti-bacterial and as a natural cleaning product.
As a mild acid, it can kill bacteria and cause a bleaching effect, and so rinsing your mouth with vinegar may remove stains.
As mentioned above, vinegar is an acid and can damage your teeth. Give it a try as a mouthwash, if you notice any whitening results then continue using it, but if you experience any pain or sensitivity then immediately stop it’s use.
Prevent teeth staining
Preventing your teeth from getting yellow in the first place is not that difficult and can save you a lot of time and effort. Maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile is way better than having to treat one!
After your teeth whitening self-treatment, it’s important to follow some steps in order to ensure that your whiter smile does not get stained for as long as possible.
- After a meal, make sure to swish your mouth with water. This is to remove any remaining food, drink or debris from the surface of your tooth which could have caused the tooth staining. It’s a super simple act and will help so much in the long run, so try and make this a habit.
- When drinking coffee, tea, wine, or fruit juice (stain-causing drinks), try to drink them using a straw. This limits their exposure on the surface of your teeth. Also when drinking these drinks, don’t get in the habit of swooshing the drink in your mouth before swallowing it, instead just swallow it immediately. The goal is to limit the contact of these drinks with your teeth as much as possible.
- Consider reducing stain-causing foods as much as you can, especially coffee, tea, and wine.
- If you smoke, consider quitting or cutting down on the amount that you smoke.
- Drink water. Drinking water keeps you hydrated and washes away any drinks/food from your teeth. It also promotes saliva production which has protective aspects and can function to protect your teeth and remove any early stains.
- Last but not least – maintain good oral hygiene! As I’ve mentioned (several) times above, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day is extremely important not only to keep your beautiful white smile, but to maintain your overall oral health.
Teeth whitening pain
Teeth sensitivity associated with teeth whitening is a common symptom, even with DIY homemade teeth whitening methods.
If at any point you feel pain, or teeth sensitivity categorised by a sharp searing ‘electric’ kind of pain that lasts less than a second, consider asking your dentist if it is safe for you to continue your teeth whitening process.