I'm very particular about my oral hygiene, something that stems from the fact that I wore braces when I was in college ... how horrifying! When the orthodontia was finally removed after I turned 20, I used to bleach my teeth a lot. But after a decade of doing so, my enamel wore down and now my teeth are uber sensitive.
A few years ago, I started researching how to naturally whiten my teeth so as to keep my bright smile, but without all the painful chemicals. Let me tell you: theses techniques actually work! I get compliments about my smile and how white my teeth are all the time, so give these a try.
1. Drink with straw when possible.
I've been doing this for a while and when I don't, my dental hygienist calls me out. I drink a lot of tea, which means my teeth are prone to staining, so whenever possible I drink it through a straw (I let it cool down first). Same goes for coffee and wine. I'll be honest and admit I don't always follow this rule (drinking red wine through a straw looks a bit silly), but it's the first step in avoiding stains. Yes, the liquid will still stain your teeth, but when it's coming through a straw, it'll mainly hit the back of your teeth (the part no one sees).
I've also made it a habit to brush immediately after eating and drinking, which can help remove food and drink residue before it has a chance to seep into your enamel and set as a stain.
2. Eat your fruit!
Though too much acid can eat away at your enamel, I use strawberries, lemon zest and orange peels as natural teeth whiteners.
Strawberries are full of malic acid, a natural enzyme that acts as an astringents and helps remove discoloration from your teeth. The fiber in these berries also helps to remove cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth. Lemons have a high acid content that works as a surface-level stain remover, while the inside of an orange peel contains vitamin C, pectin, limonene, glucarate and soluble fibers, all of which act as natural teeth whiteners.
You can rub orange and lemon peels along your teeth, or mash up all three fruits into a paste and let it sit on your teeth for a few minutes.
3. Use coconut oil to oil pull.
I have been oil pulling for over a year and absolutely love it! Before I started, my dentists would complain about my gums, saying I needed to take better care of them. Now, not only has the inflammation in my gums decreased, but my teeth don't stain as much. I swish for 20 minutes every morning before brushing my teeth, and I swear, my teeth have never looked better. Additionally, oil pulling will help your overall oral hygiene and strengthen your immune system by pulling out any nasty toxins lurking in your body.
4. Brush with baking soda.
So easy, so good for you: a DIY toothpaste made from baking soda will not only whiten your teeth, it'll also keep you from using harmful conventional toothpastes. Here's a great recipe if you want to try making some for yourself.
5. Add some charcoal to your oral hygiene routine.
This may sound bizarre, but people in India have been using activated charcoal or "monkey powder" to whiten and clean their teeth for centuries. It's a little messy, but totally worth it. Open a capsule, mix it with a little water, dip your toothbrush in and brush. Voila!