Ah, those pearly whites. We place a lot of importance on them. Not only are healthy teeth linked to our overall well-being, but nothing boosts our confidence quite like a bright, sparkling smile. So it’s no wonder teeth whitening tops the list of the most-requested cosmetic procedures. Globally, teeth whitening is a $3.2 billion industry.
There are a number of reasons our teeth can become discolored. Aging, tobacco use, consuming staining foods and beverages, medications, certain diseases, and even heredity can all yellow our teeth. Research shows that 80 percent of Americans ages 18-49 want a whiter smile, and that 6 out of 10 people believe that having whiter teeth would boost their confidence. In 2015 alone, Americans spent over $1.4 billion on at-home teeth whiteners.
If you’ve been wanting to whiten your teeth, you may be looking for cost-friendly way to do so. Or maybe it isn’t about money at all, and you’d simply prefer to forego the harsh bleach and chemicals contained in many teeth whiteners, and find a more natural and holistic way to brighten your smile. If so, here are seven tips to achieve a whiter smile more naturally.
- Avoid staining foods and drinks. Coffee, tea, red wine, cola, and even berries are all culprits in staining tooth enamel. You don’t have to avoid these foods entirely, but you can limit the amount of time they stay in your mouth. For example, drink dark-colored beverages through a straw to limit contact with your teeth. You should also be diligent about rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth as soon as possible after consuming these types of foods. And always avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, which not only discolor your teeth, but cause gum and other diseases.
- Try brushing with baking soda. Baking soda contains natural whitening properties, which is why so many brands of commercial brands now offer toothpaste containing this ingredient. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so it can gently and safely remove surface stains. It has the added benefit of creating an alkaline environment in your mouth, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow.
- Try hydrogen peroxide. There’s a reason we all used peroxide on our cuts and scrapes as children. It kills bacteria and less bacteria in your mouth means less tooth decay, and ultimately, less discoloration. Many commercial teeth whiteners use this as a main ingredient, but if you want something less harsh, rinsing with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, or using one of the many toothpastes available that contain peroxide.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is not only good for your overall health, but in their crunchy, raw states can help remove plaque from your teeth and gums as you chew.
- Try oil pulling. This practice traces its roots back to the Indian culture, in which it has long been used to improve oral hygiene by removing toxins from the mouth and body. There are a variety of oils that can be used based on taste preference, including coconut, sunflower, or sesame. The practice calls for swishing a tablespoon or less of oil around in your mouth, pushing and pulling it through your teeth. Oil is one of the mildest ingredients that can be used in teeth whitening, so oil pulling is safe to do every day.
- Increase your calcium intake. Eroding and softening enamel is often the culprit in tooth discoloration. Erosion of enamel exposes the underlying dentin, which is naturally yellow. Although milk, cheese, and yogurt are often hailed as the highest in calcium, there are a variety of high-calcium foods that do not contain dairy, including legumes, seeds, and even leafy greens.
- Practice good oral health habits. Our teeth will inevitably yellow some as we live life and age. But we can prevent the degree to which they do by being diligent in maintaining good oral health habits. That means brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly. After all, it’s a lot easier to keep teeth white than to whiten them once they’ve become discolored.
If you’d like to learn more about wellness, dental health, and affordable dental care options, check out the Dental Solutions blog.