Do-It-Yourself Tooth Whitening

A natural way

Do-It-Yourself Tooth Whitening

White teeth are associated with beauty, wellness, youth, and vitality. It’s understandable why so many people invest in expensive tooth whitening procedures at the dentist’s office, or in popular over-the-counter kits. We explore various affordable, natural alternatives that, combined with basic dental hygiene, can help make your smile radiant.

Many people report that whiter teeth make them feel more confident and they smile more often. But the neon smile common to Hollywood celebrities is pure fantasy for most of us. Teeth naturally fall within a range of light greyish-yellow shades, depending on your genetics, and will darken as you age.
 
Why do teeth turn yellow?

Skin tone and cosmetics can affect how the colour of your teeth is perceived. Those with darker skin tones or who use dark makeup will appear to have brighter teeth.

Lifestyle also plays a big role in the colour of your teeth. Drinking coffee, tea, and red wine, and eating dark berries and chocolate can stain the teeth—and those stains build up over time. Even consuming milk can lead to an increase in tartar production that causes yellowing. Smoking not only blackens teeth but kills healthy gum tissue, posing serious health risks to your mouth.

5 ways to keep your teeth white

  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Some conditions that cause discolouration may be preventable.
  • Brush your teeth after eating, or rinse your mouth with water.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Avoid all tobacco products.
  • Consult your dentist if you suspect an underlying medical condition. Some medications and diseases may cause discolouration.

How can I make my teeth whiter, naturally?

Sorting fact from fiction when choosing natural tooth whiteners can be difficult. Only a few of the methods have visible benefits, while others may harm your teeth if used frequently over long periods of time. To keep your teeth white and your mouth healthy, consider the benefits and drawbacks of these popular options when making your decision.

Saliva
Nothing is more natural and beneficial to the mouth than saliva. Encourage the production of saliva by crunching cruciferous vegetables and fruit such as celery, broccoli, carrots, apples, and pears to help scrub away stains. Chewing sugarless gum also triggers saliva and neutralizes acid that causes tooth decay.

Baking soda and salt
Brushing with a mixture of equal parts baking soda and salt is very effective in removing stains; it kills the bacteria that causes plaque and reduces acids that harm tooth enamel.

Hydrogen peroxide
Food-grade hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) is not as concentrated as the peroxide found in tooth whitening kits, although it may still cause gum irritation and sensitivity. Brush your teeth normally, swish peroxide around your teeth, and then rinse with water. Be careful not to swallow hydrogen peroxide.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
As previously noted, baking soda is especially effective—and is perhaps the best overall home remedy for tooth whitening—when used in combination with 3 percent food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Just remember to brush gently to avoid gum irritation after use.

Natural methods to steer clear of

Unfortunately, some popular natural tooth whitening methods may do more harm than good.

Citrus fruits
Brushing with lemon or orange juice or rubbing the peels across the teeth weakens tooth enamel by depleting calcium, due to high concentrations of citric acid. This can lead to decay.

Strawberries
Mashing strawberries into a pulp and rubbing or brushing your teeth with them has a similar effect. Strawberries also contain acid, and the seeds may damage gums and teeth if you brush vigorously to remove stains.

Hardwood ash (lye)
A preferred home remedy from years past was to brush with hardwood ash. The potassium hydroxide (lye) contained within the ash was thought to be a bleaching agent. Aside from the awful flavour, potassium may harm tooth enamel over time.

Always weigh the risks involved before trying any whitening procedure. Sometimes it’s healthier to flash a less than bright-white smile.

What’s in at-home whitening kits?

Ingredients

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • carbamide peroxide
  • urea peroxide

 

Precautions
Kits containing over 15 percent hydrogen peroxide may cause extreme, though temporary, sensitivity and irritation to teeth and gums.

Research
Clinical studies support the safety and effectiveness of bleaching when used as directed, but as the whitening is not permanent, many people require periodic treatments. While certainly not a natural solution, Health Canada notes that at-home whitening should be done no more than once every six months. The effects of long-term use have not yet been researched.

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