One of the things patients wonder about the most in cosmetic services today is how to whiten teeth.
According to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most important thing people want to change about their smile is the whiteness of their teeth, and almost 100 percent of those surveyed believe a great smile is one of their most important “social assets.”
So it’s no surprise that there’s so many whitening products on the market today to do this. But brighter smiles have been desirable long before modern solutions were available, and making a homemade teeth whitening paste is a fun and safe way to brighten your smile when used in tandem with professional care products.
Why do teeth get yellow?
To figure out how to whiten our teeth, we have to know why they get yellow in the first place. There are several factors that play a part, including genetics, what kind of food and drink you consume, and how well you practice oral hygiene. A tooth is made up of 4 tissues-enamel, which is the strong white covering that protects the tooth, dentin, which supports the enamel and is a hard yellow material that carries nerves, pulp, which is at the center of the tooth and contains blood and lymph vessels, and cementum, which covers the root of the tooth.
The enamel and dentin is what play the biggest role in color. Certain food and drinks will directly stain the enamel, yes, but over time the two biggest culprits are the nasty food and drink that actually break down the enamel, and weakening enamel as we age. As the enamel breaks down, it reveals the yellow dentin underneath. These remedies will focus on whitening teeth that have already lost some white enamel, but it’s also good to keep in mind that doing things to strengthen enamel is just as important so you can keep it from breaking down further. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or whitening!)
How To Whiten Teeth Naturally At Home
Most products today use carbamide peroxide, some of which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide – the main bleaching agent, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). And studies show bleaching is generally safe. As a general rule for Do It Yourself (DIY) whitening, using everyday solutions in moderation – like baking soda, coconut oil and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide – can make an effect. Several homemade solutions start with baking soda as the base, combined with other natural ingredients for consistency. Here are a few of them.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
A simple toothpaste consisting of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can create a brighter smile. Baking soda combined with water, explains MDHealth.com, releases free radicals that break down stain-causing molecules on tooth enamel. Here’s your best approach:
- Use less baking soda than hydrogen peroxide, and make sure your paste isn’t gritty.
- Combine about two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of baking soda.
- Stir it into a paste and start brushing.
- Let the paste stand about a minute and then rinse.
It’s always important to thoroughly rinse your mouth afterward so no hydrogen peroxide or baking soda is left over. And above all, limit use of your paste to two or three times a week. Excessive use of baking soda can have the reverse effect of cleaning, breaking down your enamel over time and causing sensitivity in your teeth. So, make sure you maintain your regular oral care regimen.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a multipurpose household product; you might be surprised to learn it also has natural whitening properties, per Reader’s Digest. Using it in conjunction with baking soda actually helps to remove stains and whiten your teeth. You can also gargle with it to a similar effect over time. And although results aren’t instant, using apple cider vinegar over a period of weeks can make a difference. To make your teeth whitening paste, two parts apple cider vinegar to one part baking soda is ideal. Again, less is more when it comes to baking soda. Try this solution a few times a week, or simply use the apple cider vinegar as a mild mouthrinse along with your daily oral care.
3. Coconut Oil and Peppermint Leaf
Although research is still inconclusive to the effect of coconut oil on oral health and bacteria, it has been considered for its stain-decreasing properties. Coconut oil, with a small amount of mashed peppermint leaves for a minty finish, can help remove some of the surface bacteria that yellows teeth.
According to AuthorityNutrition, coconut oil contains lauric acid, an agent that breaks down bacteria.
Like apple cider vinegar, it’s not an immediate solution, so using it over time will have the best effect. But unlike baking soda-based whiteners, it’s safe to use coconut oil daily and any measurement can work.
Making your own teeth whitening paste is fun, increases the brightness of your smile and attacks the foods and drinks that are the worst offenders of staining teeth in the first place. To this end, stay away from any citric-based homemade solution, like lemon, orange or strawberry. The acid in these fruits can break down and harm your enamel.
Remember that using homemade tooth whitening paste as your only oral care tool isn’t optimal for good mouth health. Sticking to a normal routine of proper flossing and brushing, along with your regular dentist visits twice a year, is the best way to maintain a healthy, bright smile.