A pearly white smile is something we all lust after. While sitting on the couch with our glass of red wine and after-dinner chocolate treat, we watch with envy as celebrities flash across the TV screen, blinding everyone with their bright white smiles. How do they keep their teeth so dazzlingly white, we wonder?

We here at Advanced Dental Care of Anderson have compiled a list of easy, cost-effective natural teeth whitening remedies

What Causes Teeth to Stain?

If you want to brighten up your smile a bit, it is important to first understand why your teeth stain and what happens when you attempt to whiten them. This will give you a better understanding of the best ways to naturally whiten your teeth at home!

Extrinsic Stains

There are two different types of teeth staining. The first is extrinsic stains, which affect the surface of the enamel. Although tooth enamel is really easy to stain, extrinsic stains are the easiest to correct. When you whiten your teeth, you increase the porosity of the enamel temporarily, allowing the whitening agent to reach the discolored molecules in your teeth.

Enamel staining is usually due to a variety of bad habits. Tar and nicotine, the two main chemicals in tobacco, cause yellowish stains on the surface of your teeth. Foods and drinks that are high in chromogens, substances that produce pigments that stick to tooth enamel, also are high on the list of teeth-staining culprits. This includes coffee, teas, red wine, chocolate, or dark berries, most notably. Acidic foods and beverages can also enable staining by breaking down tooth enamel and making it easier from chromogens to stick to your teeth.

Intrinsic Staining

The other type of teeth staining is known as intrinsic staining. This type of staining occurs inside the inner structure of the tooth, the dentin, which makes these types of stains much more difficult to remove. Intrinsic staining is generally caused by medications.

The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline have been linked to intrinsic teeth staining, as well as minocycline, which is often used to treat chronic acne. Some prescription-strength mouthwashes can cause intrinsic staining, as well as too much fluoride. If you’re worried about intrinsic staining, talk to your dentist about what may be causing that.

Four Ways to Naturally Whiten Teeth At Home

So, what can you do about all of this that won’t break the bank? The good news is there are lots of inexpensive, at-home tricks you can practice to help naturally whiten your teeth. We’ve compiled a list of four proven teeth-whitening remedies that are all natural and, even better, you can do them from the comfort of your own home!

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is a traditional Indian remedy intended to improve oral hygiene. Oil pulling involves swishing oil around your mouth to remove plaque-forming bacteria that may stain teeth. The practice traditionally involved sunflower or sesame oil, but coconut oil is most commonly used today, as it has a more pleasant taste and the high concentrations of lauric acid in it can reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.

Streptococcus mutans is the main culprit when it comes to bacteria in your mouth that cause plaque, gingivitis, and staining. Studies have proven that oil pulling significantly reduces Streptococcus mutans in your saliva in as little as one week. That’s how oil pulling works to naturally whiten your teeth – as the oil is being swished around your mouth, the bacteria gets stuck in it and then dissolves. This way, you can remove a large amount of bacteria in your mouth every time. Not only will this process help to naturally whiten your teeth, it can also combat the microorganisms in your mouth that cause bad breath!

So how does it work? To oil pull, put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish the oil back and forth between your teeth. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you may need to wait a few seconds for it to liquefy in your mouth. When you first start oil pulling, dentists recommend you swish for 5 to 10 minutes, gradually increasing until you swish for 15-20 minutes each time you oil pull.

Make sure you spit the coconut oil into a trash can, as it can cause clogs in your drain if it re-solidifies. Because there is no acid or chemicals in coconut oil that erodes your enamel, you can oil pull daily and be on your way to a cleaner, healthier, brighter smile!

Brush with Baking Soda

Next up on our list of at-home teeth whitening remedies is baking soda! Baking soda is a common ingredient in toothpastes, as it has natural whitening properties. It is also a mild abrasive that will scrub away surface stains on your teeth. Additionally, baking soda is alkaline, which can create an environment in your mouth that inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Brushing your teeth with baking soda will not produce overnight results, but it is fluoride free and doesn’t contain dyes or other chemicals that are harmful to your teeth. Studies have shown that toothpastes that list baking soda as an ingredient were significantly more effective at removing stains from teeth; the higher the concentration of baking soda in the toothpaste, the greater the whitening effect was. Baking soda toothpaste has also been proven to be more effective at removing plaque.

If you want to try this at-home remedy, you don’t have to hunt for a toothpaste with a high baking soda concentration. You can just make your own at home! Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water and brush your teeth with the paste a few times a week. You will begin to see natural whitening results within two weeks.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another common toothpaste ingredient that can be used at home to help naturally whiten teeth. Like baking soda, it is a natural bleaching agent that can kill bacteria in your mouth. Peroxide can penetrate the layers of the teeth, allowing it to remove more than just surface stains.

Studies have proven that toothpaste containing hydrogen peroxide leads to at least 50% whiter teeth in just six weeks. Most commercial whitening products list hydrogen peroxide as an ingredient, though you will use a much lower concentration at home. When shopping for hydrogen peroxide to use in teeth whitening, make sure to look for a 1.5% or 3% solution, as high concentrations can cause gum irritation or tooth sensitivity.

If you want to try using hydrogen peroxide as an at-home, natural teeth whitening trick, you can use it as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth. Do so by mixing a 3% solution with water to dilute it if you think that concentration may be too strong for your teeth. Swish a spoonful around your mouth prior to brushing your teeth. Another way to use hydrogen peroxide to naturally whiten your teeth is to mix it with baking soda to create a toothpaste. Research suggests only doing this a few times a week as overuse can wear down tooth enamel, however.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a centuries-long history of being used as a disinfectant and natural cleaning product because of its acetic acid, the main ingredient. Acetic acid kills bacteria, which makes apple cider vinegar useful for cleaning and whitening your teeth. Dental studies have shown that apple cider vinegar does have a whitening effect on teeth, but it can also soften teeth and erode enamel. For this reason, don’t use apple cider vinegar every day.

If you want to try whitening your teeth with apple cider vinegar, you can make it into a mouthwash by diluting it with water and swishing it around your mouth for several minutes, though be sure to rinse with plain water afterwards. Do not take a swig straight from the bottle, as apple cider vinegar is so acidic that doing so could cause serious damage to your enamel. After swishing with your apple cider vinegar solution, be sure to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

Advanced Dental Care of Anderson is Here to Help!

While there are a lot of cost-effective, safe ways to whiten your teeth, it is most important to always brush and floss. Some tooth discoloration is natural with age, but tooth stains are most commonly due to a build-up of plaque. Regular brushing and flossing will help protect your teeth from stains by reducing the amount of bacteria and plaque in your mouth.

If these at-home remedies don’t seem to be working for you, you can always visit us at Advanced Dental Care of Anderson! Using the latest in bleaching technology, we offer safe treatments for crafting a dazzling smile. Also, be sure to check out our blog for more teeth whitening tips!

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash