A quick Google search shows that lots of people (more than 70 million!) are interested in naturally whitening their teeth. It’s no wonder, given that nearly everyone agrees that white teeth are an essential part of an attractive smile. Some natural teeth whitening methods are worth trying, while others are not. In addition to being ineffective, some methods can actually harm your teeth.
Read our blog for Dr. Rick Barfield’s advice on natural teeth whitening methods. While it’s fine to try some of the methods we’ve noted are safe for your teeth, the results may not be as white as you like. Our professional teeth whitening from Opalescence will do a better job at removing the surface stains that dull your smile. You can choose a treatment in our office, which takes about an hour, or home treatments.
If you’re a regular patient, we’ll provide you with take-home trays for whitening when you visit us regularly for dental exams. You’ll also receive free teeth whitening gel, a $50 value, as long as you maintain our recommended schedule of exams!
Another option for keeping your teeth as bright as possible is increasing your dental cleanings. We recommend at least two professional cleanings a year, but adding an extra cleaning or two can give you a whiter smile.
What to Do When Whitening Won’t Work
Certain kinds of discoloration won’t respond to natural teeth whitening methods – or even professional treatments. If your tooth enamel is thin and/or damaged you may be able to see dentin, a layer found between your tooth’s hard outer enamel and the soft pulp inside. Visible dentin gives your teeth a yellowish look. If that happens, you can cover the discolored teeth with one of these restorations:
- Dental Veneers – When applied to the front surfaces of teeth, veneers hide discoloration and other flaws too, like chips or small gaps between teeth. We use ultra-thin Lumineers veneers which require little if any modification of your teeth.
- Dental Bonding – A bonding treatment, which involves applying thin layers of resin to teeth, is an alternative to veneers. It is more affordable, but won’t last as long as veneers.
- Dental Crowns – A crown may be the best choice for teeth that are especially weak or damaged since it covers your entire tooth.
Try an Electric Toothbrush for Removing Surface Stains
One of the most conservative natural teeth whitening methods is switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric one. An electric toothbrush typically works better than a manual brush at removing surface stains from teeth. Why? It uses consistent motion and pressure, which delivers a more thorough cleaning than you’ll get from your manual brush. Because of this, it tends to more thoroughly remove staining substances from teeth.
Some brushes have special whitening modes and/or whitening heads. If you have a brush with these features, they are worth trying. However, unless you are looking to upgrade your brush anyway, it’s probably not worth seeking out these extra features.
These Natural Teeth Whitening Methods May Have Some Merit
While your mileage may vary, there is no harm in trying these natural teeth whitening methods:
- Hydrogen Peroxide – This is a natural bleaching agent that also kills bacteria. It’s also found in many professional teeth whitening products – though in a much higher concentration than you can purchase. You can rinse your mouth with it before brushing. Or make a paste by combining it with baking soda, as outlined below.
- Baking Soda – Mildly abrasive baking soda can scrub away built-up plaque on your teeth. It’s especially effective when combined with hydrogen peroxide. Mix two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon of baking soda. Gently brush teeth with the mixture. Don’t use it more than once or twice a week, though, or the soda could damage your enamel.
- Charcoal – Like baking soda, charcoal is abrasive so it can scrub away surface stains. However, it is typically harder to find and more expensive than baking soda. As with soda, be careful not to brush too vigorously with it or use too often.
- Turmeric – This spice contains a compound called curcumin that can help fight bacteria buildup in the mouth. Most internet recipes for using it to whiten teeth recommend mixing it with baking soda. Chances are, the soda is what makes your teeth appear whiter.
- Oil Pulling – This practice, which involves swishing oil around in your mouth for several minutes, is a traditional Indian folk remedy. Some studies show that daily pulling can cut down on plaque, which can lessen the appearance of discoloration. However, many people find it tedious and/or unpleasant. If you want to try it, two of the oils used most often are sesame oil and coconut oil. Coconut oil is a solid that turns to liquid in your mouth. After pulling, spit it into the trash rather than the sink as it could clog pipes.
Avoid These Natural Teeth Whitening Methods
While some of these natural teeth whitening methods can help remove surface stains, they can also damage your enamel. As we noted before, damaged enamel results in discoloration that can’t be removed. We advise against using:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar contains acetic acid, which kills bacteria. This helps remove the plaque that can make your teeth look dull. However, this beneficial anti-bacterial action is canceled out because vinegar is so acidic it’s likely to weaken your tooth enamel.
- Lemon Juice – Like vinegar, lemon juice is highly acidic. So it can erode your enamel.
- Strawberries – Berries contain malic acid, an ingredient that some folks believe can whiten teeth. However, a study by a University of Iowa researcher showed the strawberries didn’t whiten teeth as well as other methods. The researcher also found the malic acid weakened enamel.
If you have any questions about natural teeth whitening methods or any other aspect of your dental health, call us today at 972-905-9266.