Nothing says healthy quite like a beautiful smile full of white teeth, but commercial whitening products contain loads of chemicals including fluoride (which we are now learning damages teeth, instead of helping them), tar, aspartame, aluminum and benzene. And while you make your best attempt to spit them out after you’re done, up to 25% of them can be swallowed or absorbed into your system.
To get a whiter smile, try to avoid beverages that contain a lot of tannins (such as red wine, tea and coffee) and try some, or all, of the natural teeth whitening “tricks” below:
1. Switch from paste to powder
You may have noticed different tooth powders for sale alongside the toothpaste at your local natural foods store. People have been using some form of tooth powder since Ancient Egypt and it is a great, chemical free way of cleaning your teeth. In fact, most toothpaste is just hydrated tooth powder in a tube with fluoride and other chemicals added to the mix to keep it from spoiling.
You can likely buy all-natural toothpowder at your local natural foods store, or you can easily mix up a batch at home. Several tooth powder recipes can be found online, the most effective ones contain bentonite clay along with other ingredients, including herbs and essential oils.
Store your homemade tooth powder in a mason jar in the bathroom, but be sure to scoop out the powder into a small dish for use, as dipping wet toothbrushes into the powder can cause mold or other contamination.
2. Eat more crunchy fruits and veggies
The old saying might be more accurate if it went, “An apple a day keeps the dentist away.” Munching on raw fruits and veggies with some crunch to them (think apples, celery and carrots) is great of your teeth. They are naturally abrasive and over time will help remove and prevent stains from your teeth without damaging your enamel. Eating these foods also helps promote saliva production, which protects teeth from bacteria and produces enzymes that will remove stains and fight bad breath.
3. Deep clean with activated charcoal
Activated Charcoal is very different from the kind of charcoal you’re probably thinking of – it can’t be used for the barbeque, but it is very effective for removing toxins from your digestive tract (it’s used by hospitals as a treatment for food and other poisoning), skin and teeth. Though you’ve likely never noticed it before, you can find activated charcoal in pill or loose powder form at your local natural foods store, drugstore or online. Be sure to buy activated charcoal derived from wood or coconut, and not the petroleum based kind. It works by absorbing the tannins that stain your teeth, and despite its abrasive feeling it does no damage to your enamel.
To apply, simply dip a clean, wet toothbrush into some of the activated charcoal powder and brush your teeth in gentle circles for approximately two minutes. Be warned, while you’re brushing your teeth will look pretty scary. Afterwards rinse with diluted 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and you’ll have a dazzling new smile.
Be careful when you’re brushing and wipe down the sink immediately afterwards. Charcoal can easily stain tile, grout and your clothing.
4. Try oil pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient method for cleaning teeth, which was first described in Ayurvedic texts thousands of years ago. It whitens teeth, removes bacteria and fights gum disease. It is also incredibly simple.
All you need to do is take about 2 Tbs. of an organic, vegetable based oil (sesame or coconut oil are the most commonly recommended) and swish it around in your mouth for twenty minutes. This is long enough for the oil to pick up all the toxins and bacteria in your mouth, but not long enough for them to start being absorbed back into the body. As you swish it around, the oil will get thicker and creamier as it mixes with your saliva. Spit it out, rinse with water and brush your teeth. This can be done on a daily basis, or before every meal if you have some serious oral health concerns.
5. Rub your teeth with a banana peel
This one may sound like an old wives tale, but it really works! The high amount of potassium, magnesium and manganese in the peel of a ripe banana are very effective at removing stains from enamel with no abrasion at all; however, bananas are high in sugar (which is not so good for your teeth) so this method should only be used about once a week.
To try it out, peel a ripe banana and cut a piece of the peel that is small enough to use comfortably, then rub the inside of the banana peel over your teeth for about two minutes, being sure to hit every spot. Rinse your mouth with water and brush as usual.
6. End meals with a cheese course
There is some evidence that eating a small amount of cheese after every meal will prevent tooth decay and promote enamel repair. This hasn’t been completely proven yet, but for cheese-addicts it is welcome news. Other dairy products like milk and yogurt also contain casein, calcium and minerals that help with oral health and teeth whitening