I used to use whitening strips regularly in high school. I wanted my teeth to look just like the celebrities I saw on TV. My teeth would ache occasionally and the tips of them started to look a little translucent, but beauty is pain, right?! Wrong. What’s rarely mentioned is that most of the celebrities we see touting blindingly white teeth actually have veneers, it’s next to impossible to bleach teeth that white, and definitely not necessary. What’s also not talked about enough are the harsh chemicals contained in most teeth whitening treatments that can mess up your teeth for a long time. (1) Luckily, you don’t need to risk your oral health with chemicals, there are plenty of natural teeth whitening ingredients, some of which may already be in your pantry! (1)
Whether you’re trying to avoid the side effects of the bleaching ingredients in OTC tooth whitening kits, here are 3 of my fave natural brighteners:
Charcoal is one of the latest trends in the juice industry and for good reason! It’s extremely adsorptive, meaning it has the ability to pull toxins, and in more serious cases, poison, from your body. It’s even been said to help with nasty hangovers. Personally, my favorite use for it thus far is for teeth whitening. It has the same adsorptive effect on your mouth, it can help pull toxins and remove stains. First timers beware: it will turn your mouth (and your sink if you aren’t careful) extremely black! I keep an extra toothbrush around for charcoal brushing and spit into a cup when doing this. (2)
Directions: Open a capsule of activated charcoal (about 1/8 teaspoon) and pour into a cup. Wet your toothbrush and dip it into the charcoal, then brush gently. You just want to massage the surface of your teeth. After brushing, keep in your mouth for 2-3 mins to allow it to continue to work. Spit and rinse thoroughly, then follow with a second brushing using your regular toothpaste. I like to do this at night as it usually takes 2 brushes and a flossing for the charcoal to disappear.
Turmeric is another counterintuitive option because it’s notorious for staining pretty much everything it touches, but I read about it so much on blogs I follow that I had to give it a try. Conclusion..it works! I personally prefer charcoal as it doesn’t really have a taste but I highly recommend trying both. Aside from brightening teeth, this study also found that turmeric had a positive effect on gingival inflammation
Directions: Wet your toothbrush and dip it in 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder. Brush teeth as normal, but instead of rinsing when you’re done allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for 3-5 minutes so that it can do it’s magic. Spit and rinse thoroughly, then follow with a second brushing using your regular toothpaste. If you notice any yellow around the corners of your mouth, continue to rinse. (3)
Coconut Oil Pulling
This one is time consuming but, in my opinion, totally worth it. It takes about 15 minutes more of your time than the previously mentioned options but I find that if I do this in the shower or even while I’m walking my dog in the AM it goes by pretty quickly. When you oil pull with an oil that has antibacterial properties, the oil can bind to the biofilm, or plaque, on the teeth and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth.
Directions: Swish with a small amount of coconut oil (1-2 teaspoons) for 15-20 minutes a day, preferably first thing in the morning before eating. Timing is key, as this is apparently enough time to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that your body starts reabsorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker as you swish. Spit oil into the trash can- NOT the sink and make sure you don’t swallow as the oil is hopefully now full of bacteria and plaque.
Have you tried any of these natural solutions on your pearly whites? Let us know in the comments!