Tooth discolouration is a problem that many suffer from. Although it doesn’t pose a threat to one’s dental health, it makes people self-conscious about their smiles. This often ends up being the reason why they attempt to whiten teeth naturally at home.
Hence, this post is going to focus on the most common natural ingredients that are currently used to remove surface stains and tooth discolouration.
- Baking soda works twofold by creating an alkaline environment in the mouth and by scrubbing tooth stains off
- Oil pulling is a long-standing practice that reduces the bad bacteria in the mouth but there is little evidence to suggest it can naturally whiten the teeth
- Activated charcoal is more abrasive than baking soda, hence it should be used with care when it comes to teeth stains
- Raw fruits like papaya and pineapple offer some natural teeth whitening benefits
- You should eat fruits and vegetables not only to improve your oral hygiene but also to enhance your general health
- Avoid foods that stain teeth like berries, coffee, chocolate, and wine
- Professional take-home trays offer a better fit than OTC trays and therefore are more effective at removing teeth stains and tooth discolouration
Natural Teeth Whitening Methods
Here are some of the most popular methods of whitening teeth at home.
Disclaimer: we do not encourage the use of any of these ingredients unless you have consulted a dentist first and been given the green light to do so. A single application of these products will not do you harm but long-term use may have its implications.
Baking soda is an all-time favourite household product that has a slew of uses. Its slightly abrasive nature renders it perfect for removing mild stains from the teeth.
Another great advantage of baking soda is its being an alkaline substance. This creates certain conditions in the mouth that tooth decay-promoting bacteria can’t thrive in.
When it comes to application, make a baking soda dentifrice by mixing bicarb soda with water and then apply it directly to your teeth. Brush slightly as you normally would. However, it is not advisable to do this very often as it can damage your teeth.
Alternatively, you could get your hands on toothpaste containing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for best results. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent. If you can’t make up your mind on a particular product, ask your dentist to recommend a brand.
Charcoal is used in toothpaste with the sole purpose of whitening the teeth. It seems counterintuitive that something as black as this could have tooth-bleaching properties but the truth is, it can work for mild stains.
The reason for this is that activated charcoal contains abrasive grains that can lift off a stain when rubbed against the surface of the teeth. It acts in a similar way as baking soda, only it’s black.
However, dentists don’t recommend that you use plain charcoal to brush your teeth. There is the possibility of overdoing it and harming your discoloured teeth. In fact, charcoal can chip tooth enamel, leaving you with sensitivity problems.
You should also be careful with charcoal toothpaste since not all are created equal. Look for products that are not super abrasive and make sure they are approved by the American Dental Association (with an ADA Seal of Acceptance) or another authority.
Not to mention, it’s not recommended that you use charcoal on a regular basis, even if you manage to get your hands on a good charcoal-based toothpaste that promises to give you whiter teeth.
All things considered, you need to be careful with any home whitening remedies that you want to implement in your daily routine.
Oil pulling with coconut oil
Daily oil pulling has been shown to decrease the amount of tooth decay-promoting bacteria, which doesn’t necessarily whiten teeth. The practice dates back to ancient Indian days and has long been used in ayurvedic medicine.
Overall, the idea is that you use a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. The longer you do that, the better chance it has to kill bacteria.
You don’t necessarily need to use coconut oil if you don’t have a jar sitting in your pantry. Any oil could work for oil pulling, but coconut oil is considered the best. You might also give sesame oil and sunflower oil a try.
Be that as it may, don’t expect any miracles to happen. While there is no danger to oil pulling, there is also no solid evidence that it has bleaching effects.
Plus, if you engage in this practice, you should know that spitting the oil down the drain might clog your pipes, so it’s best to do so in the trash can. Needless to say, you should not swallow the oil.
Fruits and vegetables
While some fruits contain acids that may eat at your tooth enamel layer, others are rich in enzymes that may be able to fight against stains. We are talking about pineapples and papayas and their enzymes papain and bromelain.
You could rub the fruit on your teeth after eating or just use toothpaste containing these enzymes. It definitely doesn’t hurt to give it a try. However, you should not expect any amazing results whatsoever.
In general, it is a great idea to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
What is the Most Effective Way to Whiten Teeth?
Even though natural remedies can help with some surface stains, they don’t usually produce long-lasting results. Some of them don’t even work, to begin with. At least there is no evidence that demonstrates their efficacy.
Professional teeth whitening
If you really want to have white teeth, you can use professional bleaching. This is an in-office procedure that is usually performed in one sitting and the results can be seen right away. There are several steps involved in professional teeth whitening in Singapore.
The first one is to determine the current shade of your teeth using a special chart. This will let you know where you currently sit on the colour scale and help you figure out how many shades lighter you want your smile to be.
Your teeth will then be examined and polished with a pumice tool to ensure there is no plaque left. The dentist will place a barrier between your teeth and the rest of the structures to protect the fleshy parts of your mouth from the whitening gel.
Then they will proceed to apply the chemical agent to the teeth. It involves high concentrations (of up to 30% or higher) of hydrogen peroxide.
The gel will be left to sit on for up to an hour. After that, the dentist will check back on you to see if you like the current shade and apply fluoride to prevent tooth sensitivity.
Another way to do this is to shine a halogen, UV, or LED light over the gel using a laser device or a lamp, which breaks down the peroxide, helping it work faster and more intensely. This accelerates the whitening process.
Keep in mind that whitening teeth should never happen too often. Your cosmetic dentistry expert will tell you when it's safe to return to the office for a top-up procedure and a brighter smile. Make sure to read our post on how to take care of your teeth to maintain the whitening results for as long as possible.
Take-home tooth whitening kits
We mention this last because even though it can produce amazing results from the comfort of your own home, it is more prone to errors. The reason for this is simple.
With in-office bleaching, a professional implements all the steps for you. They know exactly how much bleaching gel to use and how much time it needs to sit on your teeth. There is no risk of overdoing it or damaging your teeth. You can read our post on teeth whitening side effects if you're interested.
Then again, with take-home trays, part of the job is left to the patient. You have to put in some effort yourself and try to be as diligent as possible.
The first step involves spending some time with your dentist, actually. They will make impressions of your teeth that will allow for the creation of a custom tray.
Your dentist will give you the end result alongside a carbamide peroxide gel to use with the tray. Carbamide peroxide does not work as fast as hydrogen peroxide and that’s the reason you’re going to get one.
This way, if you accidentally apply some of it on your tongue, cheeks, or gums, sensitivity is less likely to occur. There's also not going to be gum irritation.
You will be prompted to wear the trays for several hours a day for the next 28 days or so. The duration of treatment varies from one patient to the next.
Professional trays are much better than OTC trays because they create a better fit over the tooth structure, and a good fit is crucial for amazing results.
The biggest disadvantage of this method is that you may get uneven results due to a bad fit.
Additional Tips to Prevent Stains
Prevention of stains is better than stain removal. Thus, here are some tips to prevent you from staining teeth that you could incorporate into your daily life.
The best thing you can do is to brush your teeth regularly, twice a day or after each meal. Don't forget to floss because food trapped between your teeth breeds bacteria and causes stains. The American Dental Association recommends that you floss at least once a day.
Moreover, to prevent tooth stains, you can try cutting down on foods and drinks that stain teeth such as coffee, red wine, and berries. It is understandable why this tip would be more challenging to follow, that's why you can focus on the rest.
It is also vital to monitor any health conditions you have that may affect your dental health. Certain medications can make your teeth yellow. If you have concerns about that, bring it up with your doctor or dentist at your next appointment.
For smokers, cutting down on cigarettes or entirely quitting the bad habit is recommended. Tobacco leaves stains on your teeth. No smoking means you don't feel the need to whiten your teeth.
Another important step is to schedule regular dental checkups with your dentist. This way, you can treat issues as they occur and avoid damage to your teeth.
They also offer professional cleaning, which removes plaque buildup, leaving the teeth looking much better and whiter than before. Last but not least, it will keep you from developing gum disease.
At the end of the day, the best natural teeth whitening methods include healthy habits like brushing your teeth that everybody can build.