I’ve gotten a ton of questions, recently, about what I do to keep my teeth so white. And today, I wanted to share a post on the more-natural approaches I’ve been keeping up with, in order to keep my pearly whites white!
Four years ago, I had begun to notice how lack-luster my teeth were. I was drinking a lot of coffee, tea and wine and up until recently, had just been brushing twice a day with a run-of-the-mill Crest or Colgate brand of toothpaste. I always enjoyed going to the dentist, because my teeth were in “excellent condition” - never had a cavity (and knock on wood, I never will)! But they weren’t white. This was around the time I was starting to take control over my health, and had just started eating more REAL food.
My dentist, at the time (Cody Olson at Northpark Family Dentistry), recommended a newer whitening method he had recently heard of, and figured I could be the guinea pig. Why not!? Kor Whitening, which was a refrigerated, peroxide gel that helped achieve “optimum whitening results” by providing a fully potent, chemically-influenced product. Typical whitening gels don’t do much because they are rapidly-contaminated by saliva; only active for 25-35 minutes. According to Kor’s website, “All peroxide gels work by forming hydrogen peroxide as their end product. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water, oxygen, and numerous radicals and byproducts known as “bleaching factors” that lighten teeth. Optimum whitening results are achieved only when these whitening gels are: fully potent; chemically influenced to produce a high percentage of free radicals (instead of simply oxygen and water); and are allowed extended time for these factors to diffuse thoroughly into the microstructure of teeth.”
I soon began my “whitening routine”, which consisted of me going to the dentist twice a week (for a couple of months), for a ‘professional round’ of tray bleaching, and then I would bleach, with the tray, at home, each night. I began to notice results very quickly, however, my teeth began to become SEVELY-SENSITIVE! At one point, I remember feeling like my gums were going to burn off, when I was doing one of the last in-office rounds. Beauty is pain, right?! haha kidding.
Lo and behold, the product worked, though! Almost instantly, I was feeling more confident every time I smiled. I left with a few extra syringes of refrigerated product for my trays, and I’d use that occasionally.
A More Natural approach
As the years continued, I was able to keep up with the white teeth, pretty well. However, a lot of that I contribute to my more-natural lifestyle. Unlike back in the day, I’m now very hesitant to put harmful chemicals anywhere near my body, and prefer to find the “safer route”. I no longer use run-of-the-mill products like Crest or Colgate - continuing to find products that are free of chemicals like fluoride, which can actually affect the liver and thyroid.
More natural approaches have been more reasonable, as well as safer for me (mind and body).
Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which reduces inflammation and kills bacteria. According to a traditional Indian Folk remedy called “Oil Pulling”, individuals swish around oil, in their mouths, as a way to remove bacteria, which can cause your teeth to look yellow. You can oil pull with many other oils, but coconut is popular because of its taste, as well as other health-benefits.
I’ve tried oil-pulling, and do notice a difference when I do, however (for me), it’s difficult to keep up with. To get the most benefit, you’re supposed to swish around for 15-25 minutes, and then spit out into a trash can (because the oil hardening can clog pipes). Instead of oil-pulling, I’ve found a few other ways to utilize coconut oil.
I learned from Rachael’s Good Eats that mixing coconut oil, with turmeric (yep, you heard that right… GOLDEN TURMERIC THAT STAINS EVERYTHING IT COMES IN CONTACT WITH) helps whiten teeth, and I’ve found this to be true, as well. Every so often, I’ll take a small bowl, pre-mixed with coconut oil and turmeric, and brush all over my teeth (with a cruddy toothbrush meant only for this). I let the mixture sit on my teeth for 5ish minutes, and then brush out with my toothpaste. Ironically, turmeric stains everything but teeth; it helps whiten those.
Since coconut oil is so good for the mouth (and body), I’ve started eating a tablespoon of it, daily. Sometimes, by itself, sometimes, with a warm drink.
Apple cider vinegar
ACV has been used for centuries, as a natural cleaning product, and disinfectant.
Acetic acid, which is the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar, effectively kills bacteria. The antibacterial property of vinegar is what makes it useful for cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth (Source, Source, Source).
One study performed on cow teeth found that apple cider vinegar does have a bleaching effect on teeth. However, they also found that vinegar may soften the teeth (Source).
I used to consume ACV, daily, as soon as I woke up. I stopped a few months ago, and haven’t noticed any difference, so have kept it out of my routine, for now. However, when I would drink, I would mix a tablespoon of it with water, and then drink with a straw (to not erode enamel).
I don’t recommend using ACV daily, for teeth-whitening.
Fruits and veggies can help rub plaque away, while you chew, and the malic acid, found in strawberries, can help remove discoloration. I’ve heard of celebs who mixing strawberry with baking soda, and then “buffing” away stains, however, I have yet to try this. Pineapple contains bromelain, which has been shown to remove tooth stains, as well.
I always like to think of tooth health similar to health of the rest of our body: filling it up with good, REAL food, is going to benefit more than filling it up with processed stuff. Limiting consumption of coffee, wine and soda will help too, and thinking about using a straw when consuming.
Sugar intake is another place to check out, when looking to naturally-whiten your teeth. A diet high in sugar supports growth of Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which causes plaque and gingivitis (Source).
When you do consume a sugary food, brush your teeth soon after you eat.
Some tooth discoloration is caused by enamel eroding away and exposing the dentin underneath, which is yellow in color. Therefore, anything you do to strengthen the enamel of your teeth will help keep your teeth pearly white.
Calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and broccoli, may help protect your teeth from enamel erosion.
This is probably the most-sought after topic: what products are best to use?! Instead of typing up a long list of ingredients to avoid, I’m going to share this helpful article, along with this point: what you’re using to brush your teeth with is just as important as what you decide to fill your body up with, and put on your body. Make sure it’s not filled with harmful chemicals!
Currently, I use Himalaya toothpaste and love it! The taste is minty, and I’m always left with a very-clean feeling, after brushing. Lumineux is also a new brand of natural, teeth-whitening strips, which I haven’t used, yet, but see for sale at my local co-op. They’re sold on Thrive Market, if you’re interested (get 25% off your first order).
Honestly, aside from my toothpaste (and daily floss-picking), I don’t do much else to keep my teeth white. I really believe that in taking good care of my body in other ways, my teeth follow-suit.
Have you tried any other natural remedies? Let me know, or let me know when you try one of these!