Have you ever seen a picture of yourself and been shocked by the color of your teeth? Well, that was me looking at pictures of my son’s birthday. I was embarrassed and ashamed I let my teeth get to that point. That drove me to research safe and effective home remedies to whiten teeth and have a healthier smile.
Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?
First, I had to start with the problem. Why were my teeth turning yellow? I quickly realized there is no simple answer to that question. There are, in fact, several factors that contribute to yellow teeth.
Inadequate Dental Hygiene
The most obvious cause of yellow teeth is the lack of proper dental hygiene. Not brushing or flossing twice a day can cause plaque and tartar build-up. Over time, these will cause your teeth to become discolored.
Food and Drinks
Certain foods and drinks are also to blame for yellowing teeth. Dark or highly pigmented drinks such as coffee, soda, wine, and tea are big offenders when it comes to stains. Certain fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and potatoes are also culprits.
Medication or Disease
Consuming certain medications has also been known to affect the color of your teeth. Some antibiotics, when given to children with developing teeth, can cause discoloration. Certain mouth rinses, antihistamines, and hypertension medications may also cause yellow teeth.
Some diseases affect the tooth enamel and dentin. This too can cause discoloration of the teeth. Infection in a pregnant mother can actually affect the teeth of her infant. Treatments for diseases like chemotherapy and radiation are also known to adversely affect the teeth.
Genetics and Age
For some, the color of your teeth and potential discoloration is related to genetics and age. Some are genetically inclined to have thicker or brighter enamel on their teeth. They are at a lower risk of discoloration.
As we age, however, this enamel starts to wear away. As it does so, it exposes the dentin, which lies just beneath the enamel. The dentin has a natural yellow tint that makes the teeth look that color.
In a lot of cases, teeth turn yellow due to the wearing down of the enamel. But with smoking and tobacco use, you are actually staining your teeth yellow and sometimes brown. This staining occurs because of the nicotine and tar in the tobacco.
Excessive Amounts of Fluoride
We have all heard that fluoride can be good for our teeth. Many dentist even offer it as a protective treatment in their office. However, did you know that too much fluoride can cause discoloration of your teeth?
Fluoride is naturally occurring in our drinking water. If it is found in excessive amounts, it can lead to discoloration of the teeth. High levels in toothpastes, mouth rinses, or supplements can also cause issues.
As previously mentioned, having a good, strong enamel helps in avoiding tooth discoloration. Enamel affected during development, can leave your teeth at risk for yellowing. Therefore, those who experience traumatic events may lose the brightness of their enamel.
Seven Home Remedies to Whiten Teeth
So how do we remove stains and whiten teeth? Is it even possible? With research, I found you can whiten your teeth with the following seven at-home remedies.
Improve Your Oral Hygiene
When it comes to whitening your teeth at home, one of the best ways to do that is to improve your oral hygiene. Aging can cause your teeth to yellow, but it is more often caused by plaque build-up. By brushing two times a day for at least two minutes, you can remove this harmful plaque.
Flossing is also beneficial. Plaque results from bacteria accumulating in your mouth. When you floss, you remove the bacteria from in between your teeth. This helps eliminate further plaque production.
Brush After Eating
It is not always convenient to brush your teeth after eating or drinking. But, it can help with your oral hygiene and prevent stains. Quickly removing food particles will prevent them from turning into plaque. Using a whitening or fluoride toothpaste can polish the teeth and remove stains.
Another way to improve your oral hygiene is by eliminating all use of tobacco. When you use tobacco, your mouth is filled with harmful nicotine and tar. This damages your teeth and can stain them yellow or even brown. By avoiding tobacco you can prevent stains on your teeth. You can also improve the health of your mouth dramatically.
Schedule Regular Dentist Visits
Brushing helps to maintain the appearance of your teeth. But, regular dentist visits will provide you with a deep clean. The dental hygienist will be able to scrape off built-up plaque and tartar and shine your teeth. He or she can also catch any oral issues you may have before they become too serious.
“Pull” Out the Toxins
Oil pulling is an ancient Indian method that is used to pull out toxins and improve the health of your mouth. This method helps whiten teeth, kill bacteria, reduce plaque, and prevent gingivitis.
To perform oil pulling, take a tablespoon of oil, swish it around your mouth for up to 20 minutes, and then spit it out. As 20 minutes is a long time, it is recommended to start out with swishing for one to five minutes and work your way up. Others prefer to brush or rub the oil on their teeth.
Use Coconut Oil
Sunflower, sesame, and coconut oils are all recommended for oil pulling. Coconut oil, however, seems to be the preferred oil. Not only does it have a milder taste, but it can also benefit your health. Coconut oil contains lauric acid. This kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and creates healthier gums.
Another method of “pulling” out toxins is brushing with activated charcoal. The activated charcoal is believed to trap bacteria and plaque. By doing this, it can help whiten your teeth.
Brush your teeth with the activated charcoal, as normal. Then rinse with water and spit until the charcoal is completely gone.
Brush With Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a common household item that bleaches teeth and kills bacteria. The form that most people have in their homes, however, is typically too diluted, but can be used as a mouth rinse. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, swish in your mouth for one minute, and rinse.
If you don’t want to use hydrogen peroxide from the bottle, try using a toothpaste that contains it. Studies have shown that using toothpaste with peroxide twice a day can lead to 62% whiter teeth in just six weeks.
Hydrogen Peroxide Gel
Another option is to use an over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide gel. One study showed that by brushing on hydrogen peroxide gel teeth could be whitened in as little as two weeks. The gel must be at 6% concentration which can be a challenge to find.
A Word of Caution
The benefits of using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth have been proven. But, using a high concentration can cause irritation to the gums. If not applying directly to the teeth, a concentration no greater than 3% should be used. Use hydrogen peroxide only a few times a week as it can weaken or wear away the enamel.
Use Baking Soda
Another popular treatment for whitening teeth is baking soda. It’s actually a common ingredient in several toothpastes. Baking soda is an abrasive and works to scrub away stains on the teeth.
It is best to brush your teeth with your normal toothpaste and then brush with the baking soda. In order to brush with baking soda, make sure you have turned it into a paste. You can do this by mixing it with either water or hydrogen peroxide. The paste should be smooth and not gritty as this can remove enamel, which doesn’t regenerate.
Try Toothpaste With Baking Soda
If using baking soda seems like too much work, simply invest in a toothpaste with baking soda already in it. Studies show that toothpastes with baking soda have greater success at removing stains. Those with higher concentrations of baking soda, had greater success with whitening teeth.
Baking soda will work, but you must be willing to give it time. You can’t expect whitening to occur overnight. If you’re not seeing the results you want after a few weeks, try toothpaste with baking soda or another home remedy.
Switch Up Your Diet
If you are not a tobacco user and have good brushing habits, your yellowing teeth may be the result of food you are eating. Coffee, tea, wine and even dark berries are major culprits in yellowing teeth. Avoiding these or having them in moderation may prevent or decrease stains.
If you have to have that morning cup of coffee, drink water afterwards. Drinking water or swishing it around can lessen your chances of discoloration. Drinking through a straw is also helpful. But, brushing your teeth is ideal. This guarantees the removal of harmful drinks and food, preventing stains.
We all know that consuming high amounts of sugar can cause cavities. But did you also know that it could be contributing to the yellowing of your teeth? Sugar actually promotes the growth a bacteria strain that causes plaque and gingivitis. Limiting the amount of sugar you ingest or brushing after can help promote whiter teeth.
Increase Your Calcium
We have all heard that milk builds strong teeth, and now know that there really is truth to that saying. Calcium supports the strengthening of the enamel of your teeth. If you can limit the breakdown of enamel, you limit the exposure of dentin and therefore have a whiter smile.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s common knowledge that vinegar can be used as a multicleaner around your house. So why not use it to clean your teeth? Apple cider vinegar primarily contains acetic acid which helps to kill bacteria. This harmful bacteria is what causes plaque and, therefore, yellow teeth.
In addition to acetic acid, apple cider vinegar contains probiotics, magnesium, and potassium. These all contribute to a healthy body and mouth. To use ACV, you can dilute it with water and use it as a mouth rinse, rinsing for several minutes. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you can brush your teeth with the apple cider vinegar or rub it on directly with your finger.
Dangers of Using ACV
Because apple cider vinegar does contain an acid, there are risks involved when using it. Acid can soften your teeth or wear down the enamel. Therefore, you should limit the amount of time your teeth are in contact with the vinegar.
If you plan to use the apple cider vinegar as a rinse, always rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide is acceptable as well. If you are brushing the ACV on, be sure to brush your teeth after with regular non-fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to not use it everyday in your oral hygiene routine.
Eat These Fruits and Vegetables
It seems strange, but eating fruits and vegetables can help whiten your teeth. It has been shown that crunchy fruits and vegetables help remove plaque as you eat. Some fruits even have components that are believed to help whiten teeth.
Strawberries and Apples
Similar to ACV, strawberries and apples contain malic acid which dissolves teeth stains. Malic acid can also increase saliva and help clear away harmful products in your mouth. You can consume the apples to receive their benefits, but the strawberries can be made into a paste.
To use the strawberries for brushing, crush them and mix with baking soda. First, brush with this mixture and then brush your teeth with regular toothpaste. As strawberries contain acid, this process should only be used a couple of times a week.
An ingredient found in many toothpastes that helps remove stains is bromelain. This is an enzyme that is naturally occurring in pineapple. Some believe that consuming pineapple will help brighten your teeth. Though evidence has yet to confirm this, it can hurt to try!
Feel Confident in Your Smile
With these teeth whitening solutions, there’s no excuse to be insecure with your smile. These tips are simple and easily incorporated into your daily oral cleansing routine. So, don’t fight to hide those yellow teeth anymore. Feel confident in showing off your bright, beautiful, and healthy smile!