If you're trying to actively remove stains and brighten your smile, the first thing you should know is that there are a ton of different reasons teeth start to lose their natural whiteness. There are also a bunch of ways to prevent teeth yellowing, like avoiding certain foods and drinks and experimenting with oil pulling. If you've already read up on prevention and decided your teeth are in need of a little extra care, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of whitening products out there. This gets even more complicated if you're trying to whiten your teeth in the safest and most natural way possible.
If you do finally land on a method that speaks to you, how do you know if it will actually work? As a holistic dentist, it's my job to share the best all-natural whitening methods with my patients and protect them from ingredients that can actually cause more harm to their teeth than good. Here are my best tips to achieve—and maintain—your natural white smile.
The safest ways to whiten your teeth:
1. Use a charcoal toothpaste.
Charcoal is fantastic for stain removal, and I use it myself at home. Keep in mind, charcoal is not able to intrinsically whiten—that is, charcoal cannot change the color of the inner dentin of the tooth, but it does a great job on surface stains.
2. Use the right tools.
One of the best tips for whitening teeth is simply this: At home, I use an Oral-B electric toothbrush with the 3-D White Brush Head or the Cross-Action Brush Head to remove extrinsic stains. When paired with an abrasive toothpaste, biofilm is effectively broken down, enamel is polished, and stains are removed. I recommend only using the specialty paste for two to three weeks at a time and not on a regular basis.
3. Avoid over-the-counter whitening strips.
You’ve probably seen commercials for whitening strips that you can purchase from local retailers. While this option may be budget-friendly and seem easy, there are some drawbacks. Over-the-counter whitening strips use the same chemical as the dentist, but because they are not a custom fit, they tend to come into contact with the gums, causing damage.
4. Carbamide peroxide.
If you try the charcoal and it does not work, you may be looking for intrinsic color change rather than extrinsic color change. You can see your dentist for a teeth-whitening treatment of pure 10 to 15 percent carbamide peroxide. The dentist can make you a set of custom trays that you will take home and be able to use for the rest of your life. Custom trays enable the whitening gel to sit snugly against your teeth without touching your gums. This is not a "natural" teeth-whitening method, but if you’re looking for intrinsic color change, this is the safest way to whiten, as it prevents whitening gel from coming into contact with the gums, which can damage them.
Natural teeth-whitening methods that do more harm than good.
There’s a lot online about people applying lemon juice or vinegar to their teeth in an attempt to whiten. I strongly advise against this! Some of these methods used to whiten can be extremely harmful. Lemon juice, lemon or orange peels, and apple cider vinegar are all items I’ve seen people tout as miracle all-natural teeth whiteners. However, all of these substances are acidic and very bad for the enamel. They eat away at the tooth enamel; in the long run, this will cause the teeth to be even more yellow since the dentin will be more visible.
In addition, whitening toothpastes are generally not good for your teeth. Not only do they not really deliver on their marketing claims, but they tend to actually be harmful to your teeth and gums. It is impossible for toothpaste to intrinsically whiten the dentin. The only thing it’s able to do is maybe remove some surface staining. Unfortunately, it contains harsh abrasive ingredients that damage teeth and cause gum recession over time with prolonged use.
Do these regularly for a healthier mouth.
If you want to achieve and maintain a healthier mouth, try incorporating one (or a few!) of these practices into your regular wellness regimen:
- Apply charcoal on a weekly basis. It will help to remove any surface stains before they have a chance to soak in past the enamel and into the dentin.
- Avoid foods and drinks that are known to create stains. Or at least swish with water or dry brush after consuming these substances. This will cut down on your whitening woes!
- Keep your mouth moist throughout the night. Do this by practicing mouth taping, which will help eliminate bad biofilm buildup.
- If you suffer from dry mouth, consider using biotene (artificial saliva) in order to keep your mouth moist. This is critical at all times, not just at night. Your oral health is dependent on keeping a moist environment for proper bacterial balance.
- Engage in an oil pulling routine. This will help to maintain healthy teeth by removing surface stains extrinsically before they’re able to set in.
- Chew a natural chewing gum containing xylitol. This ingredient helps to inhibit bacterial growth as well as prevents bacteria from adhering to the teeth. Maintaining whiter, stain-free teeth can be as easy as routinely chomping on some chewing gum!
So, there you have it—you’re well on your way to naturally white and bright teeth for a lifetime!
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