If you’re like most Americans, you’ve been using one of Colgate’s or Crest’s countless toothpaste variations for as long as you can remember. But you still get cavities, your gums bleed when you floss, and your teeth never look as white as promised.
So what gives?
The truth is, we’ve been taught to trust toothpaste that doesn’t actually improve oral health. Despite their fancy names like “3D Whitening Brilliance Blast” and “Pro-Health Advanced”, these products aren’t formulated to address the real causes of cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems.
It's true -- I've always hated going to the dentist. Everything about it just made me cringe.
So when I went for my first teeth whitening session a while back, needless to say I was less than excited. But my umpteen-cup-a-day coffee habit had steadily turned my pearly whites into a dull gray. I had to do something.
A few minutes later, there I was, laying back in that goofy little recliner, a 100,000 watt light glaring just inches from my nose, eyes wide and hands shaking, as the dentist slid in the thingy packed with the bleach whitening peroxide solution.
HOOOOOLY CRAP! I thought I was going to go through the ceiling. The pain was so severe, like nothing else I had ever felt.
Over time, our teeth are exposed to acidic food and drink that thin the enamel, making it vulnerable to stains and discoloration.
Many people think that the only ways to combat yellowing teeth are paying hundreds of dollars for professional whitening treatments or using at-home whitening kits that leave their teeth incredibly sensitive.
There are simpler options though. I’ve gathered 7 tricks to get whiter teeth at home. They’re really easy, and they really work.
We’ll start with some eating habits, then move on to 1-ingredient fixes, and finally to an all-natural teeth whitening kit that won’t harm your teeth or gums or cause increased sensitivity.
1. Choose the right snacks
Everyone knows the damage that sticky, sugary snacks can do to our teeth. But did you know that some foods can help clean our teeth?
Firm, crisp foods like apples, celery and raw carrots can do they trick! They’re like a natural toothbrush that helps get rid of plaque and bacteria.
2. Don’t drink too much coffee and soda
Dark-colored drinks such as coffee, soda, teas and red wine can stain your teeth. They also thin and weaken your enamel, which only intensifies staining.
If possible, use a straw when drinking dark-colored drinks. This will minimize the contact the liquid has with your teeth to help lessen the risk of stains. When it’s not possible, brush your teeth after drinking your beverage. You should also drink plenty of water to help wash away leftover sugar that is lingering in your mouth.
3. Add baking soda to your brushing routine
Baking soda is commonly found in toothpastes and toothpowder. But did you know you can brush with it on its own?
You don’t want to brush with it on a daily basis since it can be harsh on your teeth. However, using it every so often can help with discoloration.
If you’re not a fan of the taste of baking soda (although who is?), try sprinkling some on top of your toothpaste before brushing. Doing this once a week can make a difference in the brightness of your smile.
4. Brush with activated charcoal
The activated charcoal found in face masks and cleansers is also good for your teeth. Brushing with activated charcoal powder or a tooth powder that includes it can help whiten your teeth.
Activated charcoal does an amazing job at absorbing plaque and bacteria. These impurities can discolor your teeth, so removing them with the help of activated charcoal will do wonders for your smile.
5. Swish with apple cider vinegar
An easy way to remove stubborn stains from your teeth is by swishing with apple cider vinegar. Combine a teaspoon of vinegar with ½ cup of water and swish the solution in your mouth for at least 30 seconds. Then spit and rinse.
Apple cider vinegar can help with whitening your teeth, getting rid of bacteria, and reducing bad breath. Just don’t over do it -- too much vinegar can break down enamel.
6. Try oil pulling
Don’t want to swish with apple cider vinegar? You’ll want to try oil pulling. This folk remedy from India helps remove toxins and bacteria from your mouth.
If you’re new to this technique, put a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for up to 20 minutes. Once you’re done, spit it in the trash. (If you spit it in the sink or toilet, it can solidify and block the pipes.)
Studies have found that the oil pulling technique can improve oral hygiene when practiced regularly.
7. Brighten with LED light
LED whitening kits are all over social media, but there’s one problem. They come with a chemical-filled goop that can burn your gums and mouth and cause tooth sensitivity if left on for too long.
If you want to use a whitening kit at home without the pain, try an LED natural teeth whitening system. The kit available from Primal Life Organics comes with a one-size-fits-most mouthpiece and a jar of all-natural whitening paste. This paste uses all natural ingredients to help whiten, polish and clean your teeth without any nasty side effects.
The LED tray features 16 lights with a 480nm wavelength that is strong enough to be effective in combating periodontal and gum diseases. The best part is that there are no batteries -- you simply plug the tray into a USB, Android or iPhone port and get glowing.
Getting whiter teeth doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars or leave your mouth in pain. By sticking with a regular brushing routine and incorporating some of these tricks, you’ll be putting your best face forward in no time.
What is your favorite way to get whiter teeth? Is there something that didn’t make the list? Leave me a comment below.