A smile filled with healthy white teeth is a universal symbol of health and beauty, but over time teeth get dull and discolored for a wide variety of reasons.
Individuals can use different techniques to help whiten and bleach teeth back to their original color, which is usually several shade lighter.
While using products to whiten the teeth leads to improvements in their color, it’s important to remember that most of these remedies and products can never make the teeth dramatically white.
Tooth discoloration is caused by several factors, which can each be either external or internal.
- A Smoking habit damages teeth permanently and is one of the major causes of discoloration and decay. Long-term smoking leads to grey marks on the teeth and yellowness that are impossible to get rid of.
- Drinking cola, coffee, tea or other dark beverages as well as eating highly-pigmented foods such as cherries and berries on a regular basis can cause stains on the teeth that are dark brown or black. Compounds in these items break down tooth enamel and cause the teeth to become sticky. When this happens the surfaces of the teeth easily absorb the natural dyes in food and drinks.
- Dental plaque accumulates on teeth when they are not cleaned properly. As fungi and bacteria grow it on top of the plaque it can lead to stains on the teeth that look orange or green.
- The sugar content and high acid level in most sugary beverages can cause damage to the tooth enamel and discoloration over time.
- Brushing teeth immediately after a meal when they are weakest, wears down the enamel leading to more damage, which causes teeth to absorb stains easily.
- Taking the antibiotic tetracycline while teeth are still developing (usually during childhood) can cause teeth to appear brownish-yellow or greyish-blue.
- Pulp necrosis and tooth decay can both cause the teeth to look greyish-black, and is caused by damage to the enamel due to trauma.
- Patches on tooth surfaces that appear brownish yellow or that have white patches are caused by several factors, which include early tooth decay, fluorosis (ingesting too much fluoride) and the teeth being disturbed during their development.
- Fluorosis (ingesting over two parts fluoride for each million parts of water) over a long period of time changes the way tooth enamel develops causing while patches that make teeth look mottled.
- When the pulp of a decayed deciduous tooth is exposed to bacteria at the top (its apex) it leads to infection that causes brownish-yellow patches during the development of the permanent tooth.
- Tooth enamel naturally darkens with age, even if an individual takes very good care of their teeth.
The following are several effective home remedies for whitening teeth safely and effectively.
- Sea Salt Mixture
Replace toothpaste with a mixture of sea salt to whiten teeth. It works to kill bacteria and germs in the mouth by increasing its pH temporarily and making it completely alkaline.
Rinsing the mouth with a salt water mixture after eating is good for keeping it clean and bacteria free and healing any sores in the mouth.
- Combine one ounce of water with half a teaspoon of sea salt.
- Put the toothbrush into the mixture and let it sit for between three to five minutes before brushing the teeth.
- Strawberry Paste
The malic acid and vitamin C content of strawberries makes it an effective treatment for whitening teeth and removing stains and plaque.
- Combine two or three crushed strawberries with half a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Use the paste to brush teeth several times each week.
- Eat fresh strawberries, chewing them thoroughly before swallowing.
Warning: The compounds in strawberries can wear tooth enamel down so alternate using this remedy with a fluoride-based toothpaste.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
While it takes some time to produce visible results, apple cider vinegar helps to whiten teeth and remove surface stains when used as a toothpaste (along with baking soda) or as a mouth rinse.
- Combine two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and half a teaspoon of baking soda to make a paste.
- Brush teeth with the paste several times a week.
- Use apple cider vinegar to rinse the mouth several times a day.
- Eating Apples
Eating fresh, tart, crisp and firm apples helps to remove the film on teeth that can make them look dull and dingy while also encouraging the saliva production that keeps stains from forming.
- Bite an apple using the front teeth, sinking them into the fruit all the way up to the gums.
- Chewing Sugarless Gum
Chewing on sugarless gum helps to remove food particles from the teeth and helps to whiten by producing extra saliva in the mouth.
- Drinking Water
Drinking water on a regular basis helps to whiten by removing build up and debris from teeth such as sugar and food particles.
Swishing water around in the mouth in between mouthfuls of food helps to brighten the teeth and keep them from looking dull.
Lemon juice helps to whiten teeth by removing yellow stains and killing bacteria in the mouth.
- Mix the juice of one lemon with water and use it to rinse the mouth.
- Rub a lemon peel directly onto the teeth.
- Combine several drops of lemon juice with salt and apply the mixture to the gums and teeth, concentrating on stained areas.
- Leave the solution in place for several minutes before rinsing it away with water.
For best results use this treatment twice daily.
- Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy basil (also known as Tulsi) helps to whiten teeth and prevent oral health issues such as bleeding gums.
- Crush sundried basil leaves into a powder and use it to brush the teeth.
- Combine crushed basil leaves with mustard (or orange) oil to make a paste and apply it to the teeth.
- Margosa (Neem)
The astringent and antiseptic properties of the twigs from the margosa (neem) plant help to whiten teeth by removing yellow stains and maintaining the health of the teeth.
The twig itself helps to prevent cavities and bad breath while doubling as a toothbrush when chewed.
- Brush teeth gently with a combination of toothpaste and a few drops of margosa oil.
- Orange Peel
The vitamin C and calcium in orange peel helps to whiten teeth by killing microorganisms in the gums and teeth.
- Every night before going to sleep, rub a piece of orange peel or orange peel powder directly into the teeth.
- Crunchy Vegetables
Eating crunchy vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, broccoli and celery helps to whiten teeth by removing plaque. Raw carrots are particularly effective because they kill bacteria in the mouth and keep it clean by promoting a healthy acid-alkaline balance.
When they are eaten every day, raisins help to whiten teeth by removing and preventing the plaque that sticks to teeth and boosting saliva production.
Studies show that eating cheese after a meal can help to re-mineralize teeth and prevent decay that leads to discoloration.
- Milk and Yogurt
The high calcium and phosphorus content of milk and yogurt make them effective for strengthening and re-mineralizing the enamel of the teeth, while also helping to prevent cavities.
- Banyan Roots
The astringent properties contained in the banyan tree roots help to whiten teeth naturally, with the trees aerial roots also doubling as a disposable toothbrush.
- Chew a piece of the root of the banyan tree thoroughly before spitting it out.
- Citrus Fruits
Eating citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and pineapples whitens teeth naturally because their tartness encourages the mouth to produce more saliva.
- Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are an effective remedy for whitening teeth.
- Crush dried bay leaves to make a powder.
- Combine the powdered bay leaves with an equal portion of powder from dried orange peels.
- Add enough water to the powder to make a paste before rubbing the mixture into the teeth.
- Rub the mixture of bay and orange leaf powder directly into the teeth.
- Dark Chocolate
Compounds in dark chocolate, such as theobromine, help to whiten and strengthen teeth by hardening its surfaces.
- Peelu Plant Fibers
Peelu plant fibers ground into power form make a natural and non-abrasive toothpaste that helps to whiten teeth.
- Aloe Vera
The antibacterial properties of aloe vera make it very effective for cleaning and whitening the teeth. It works to protect teeth from cavities and the eventual need for root canals.
- Combine vegetable glycerin, aloe vera and a small amount of baking soda to make a paste.
- Brush teeth thoroughly using the mixture as a toothpaste.
Although well-known for causing stains, turmeric actually helps to whiten discolored teeth.
- Roast turmeric before grinding into a powder.
- Combine the turmeric powder with a little bit of salt and lime juice.
- Apply the mixture to the gums and teeth to whiten and keep the mouth healthy.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
While most individuals use hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds, it is also extremely useful for oral hygiene and is available in most pharmacies.
Using a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to bleach the teeth is a safe and effective method for whitening at home. It is recommended by the American Dental Association and can be used as a toothpaste or mouthwash.
- Combine two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide, three teaspoons of baking soda and a few drops of mint and peppermint extracts to make a paste with a toothpaste-like consistency.
- Use the paste to brush the teeth for approximately two minutes using small circular motions.
- Wash the paste residue from the mouth thoroughly.
- Brush teeth with regular toothpaste to remove all traces of hydrogen peroxide from the mouth.
For best results use this treatment once weekly.
- Place approximately two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in the mouth before swishing it around for approximately one minute before spitting it out and rising with clean water.
- Brush teeth thoroughly.
Note: The combination of bacteria and hydrogen peroxide causes a bubbling and foaming reaction to take place inside the mouth, and is a sign that it is killing bacteria.
- Baking Soda
One of the most popular and effective home remedies for whitening teeth and removing stains and discoloration is baking soda, which can be used as a mouth rinse or a toothpaste.
- Combine two tablespoons baking soda with one cup of cold water and mix well until completely dissolved.
Rinse with the solution two or three times daily for best results.
- Wet a toothbrush before dipping into a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda combined with a few drops of water.
- Brush the teeth with the mixture for approximately two minutes before rinsing the mouth thoroughly with clean water.
Repeat two or three times weekly for best results.
Warning: Baking soda can damage tooth enamel with overuse, so proceed with caution.
Activated charcoal is an effective remedy for whitening teeth because of its absorbent qualities. Any toxins, impurities and stains present in the mouth bond with charcoal’s surface making it easier to remove them with brushing and rinsing.
Over time using activated charcoal regularly leaves teeth feeling smoother and cleaner and looking visibly whiter. It does this by increasing the pH of the entire mouth, which helps to kill the bacteria that can cause plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, discoloration and staining.
Activated charcoal is available in powder or capsule form online and in most natural health stores.
- Take a clean toothbrush and moisten it with water before dipping into powered charcoal. Alternatively, open a charcoal capsule and pour its contents directly onto a damp toothbrush.
- To avoid staining items in the vicinity, place the charcoal covered toothbrush into the mouth carefully without spilling any particles.
- Using small circular motions, brush the teeth gently for approximately two minutes before rinsing the mouth clean.
Repeat as often as necessary for best results.
- Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil Paste
Oil pulling, which is an Ayurvedic remedy that involves swishing oil throughout the mouth and in between the teeth, helps to detoxify the mouth and gums by removing harmful bacteria and germs.
Organic cold-pressed vegetable oils from the coconut, sesame and olive all have lipids that help to remove bacteria that stick to the surface of the teeth.
Coconut oil is particularly beneficial for teeth whitening because it has fatty acids that transform into enzymes that help to whiten teeth when they mix with saliva (it also contains antioxidants, vitamin E and has a pleasant taste). The mixture activates an oxygen molecule (oxidized free radical) that sticks to any stains on the surface of the teeth, before creating a chemical reaction that helps to remove the stain easily with a tooth brush or mouthwash.
Melt one cup of coconut oil into liquid form before combining it with two teaspoons of baking soda and five to ten drops of spearmint extract to add flavor and kill bacteria.
- Swish tablespoon full of oil in the mouth for up to twenty minutes on (an empty stomach).
- Remove the oil from the mouth and rinse with warm water.
- Banana Rub
Bananas are a rich source of compounds that help to whiten teeth when they are absorbed through the enamel. These compounds include minerals such as magnesium, potassium and manganese among others.
- Brush and floss the teeth thoroughly.
- Peel a banana and rub a piece of the inner part against the teeth for approximately two minutes before rinsing the mouth.
Repeat twice daily for best results, with one time being right before going to bed.
- Brush The Tongue
Along with freshening the breath, brushing the tongue removes bacteria that can cause discoloration and stains on the teeth.
- Beginning at the back of the tongue and with long strokes, use a toothbrush with soft bristles to brush the tongue. After each stroke, rinse the brush under running water to avoid re-depositing any bacteria.
- Use a Straw
Use a straw to drink dark-colored beverages such as cola or grape juice. This keeps the liquid from making direct contact with the surface of the teeth, which can lead to stains from food dyes.