Are your dulling teeth detracting from your sparkling personality? Well, of course not! But we could all afford to smile a little brighter. White strips and trips to the dentist are one way to get there. Opening up your kitchen (and your mind) is another. Full disclosure: none of these at-home whiteners are going to rival the results of a few hours spent with a beam of light pointed at your mouth, or other professional solutions, like custom bleaching trays. But when brushing and flossing aren’t enough, you can supplement your regular oral hygiene routine with one of these natural (and surprisingly effective) solutions.
Keep reading to see which DIY methods actually work!
Yes, charcoal. Not exactly the same stuff you use to fire up the grill, but it’s still black and dirty looking. There’s a reason charcoal is used to filter water and fed to poison victims—it acts like a magnet, attracting and sucking out toxins. It functions the same way when applied to teeth. Using an activated charcoal rinse pulls out toxins and, more importantly, tannins (the teeth-staining culprits lurking in many common foods and beverages).
To try an activated charcoal rinse, combine equal parts water and powdered activated charcoal (you can buy it at most health and wellness stores). Swish the liquid around in your mouth for about a minute. Then hold the mixture in front of your teeth for five minutes. Once your time is up, spit it out, and start rinsing with fresh water. Yes, it will take several rinses to remove all of the charcoal from your mouth.
Next time you eat an orange, don’t toss the peel. The white part of an orange peel (called the albedo) contains a natural solvent called limonene—you’ve probably seen limonene on the bottles of your household cleaning products—which works to remove stains. The enamel-strengthening calcium doesn’t hurt either. And don’t worry—there’s no citric acid in that part of the fruit, so it won’t harm your teeth.
To try this no-fuss teeth-whitener, simply rub the inside of the peel against your teeth. You can repeat with a new section of the peel as many times as you wish. When you’ve had enough, just rinse out your mouth.
Strawberries are a natural teeth-whitener on their own. Just snacking on them is a great way to reap the benefits of the malic acid- and vitamin C-packed fruit. Vitamin C brightens teeth by clearing away plaque, but the real powerhouse is malic acid, which acts an astringent to remove surface stains. Combine it with baking soda, the trusted enamel-cleaning all-star, and you’ve got a winning, or rather whitening, combination.
To buff away stains with a strawberry baking soda paste, crush a strawberry into a pulp, then add about ½ tablespoon of baking soda, and blend. Use a soft toothbrush to spread the paste onto your teeth. Leave it on for up to five minutes, and then rinse, brush, floss, and you’re off.
It’s the pin seen around the world, “Whiten Your Teeth With A Banana Peel.” Cheesy? Yes. Inaccurate? No. Bananas contain high amounts of essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, and potassium, all of which penetrate stains to whiten teeth. The nutrient-rich fruit is also high in vitamin D, which strengthens teeth, and helps them absorb the minerals better.
To try the banana peel method, you’ll need a ripe banana (a small amount of green on the peel is okay, but the goal is perfectly ripe). A banana at this level of ripeness will have the optimal level of potassium needed to effectively brighten teeth. Spend one minute rubbing the peel all over your upper teeth and one minute concentrating on the lower teeth. Then, sit back, and let the banana paste work its magic for 2-10 minutes. Try to keep your lips away from your teeth for the best results. When you’re done, brush, rinse, and go.
Either you hopped on the oil pulling bandwagon long ago or you got sick of hearing about just as long ago. Either way, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention teeth whitening powers of the miracle detoxifying ritual. In addition to the general wellness benefits of oil pulling (headache relief, improved kidney function, clearer sinuses, and more), the practice promises to deliver a healthier mouth, with stronger teeth and gums and a whiter smile. The process of oil pulling literally pulls the toxins out of your mouth, killing the bacteria that tarnish teeth.
If you’re ready to oil-pull your way to whiter teeth, we recommend choosing coconut oil for its antimicrobial properties. Take a spoonful of your organic oil, swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, and then spit it out in the trash. (The process sounds simple enough, but be prepared to lose willpower at some point—activities help.)
Have you tried any of these off-the-wall ways to whiten your teeth? Tell us about your results in the comments!