Everyone wants a sparkling smile — and many people have opinions on how to go about getting one. There’s no shortage of natural teeth whitening methods, which cover the range from traditional old wives’ tales to popular trends that everyone wants to try.
Of course, when it comes to your teeth, you certainly shouldn’t be trying out the latest fads without knowing that they’re both safe and effective. Let’s separate the fact from fiction to find which teeth whitening methods may be the best options for a fresh, white smile.
Popular Natural Teeth Whitening Methods
There are plenty of teeth whitening methods that people have tried and tested in search of those sparkling pearly whites. Many of these different methods involve everyday items you likely already have in your kitchen, making them seem like an easier alternative than scheduling a visit with your dentist. But does do-it-yourself convenience come at the cost of teeth safety or visible results?
- Oil pulling: This traditional folk remedy involves swirling oil — commonly coconut or sunflower oil — around your mouth for up to 20 minutes each day to remove bacteria and plaque. While this practice doesn’t contain any acid and thus doesn’t risk damaging your teeth, there are also no scientific studies proving that it successfully whitens them.
- Baking soda: The natural whitening properties in baking soda have caused it to become a favorite natural teeth whitening method. Some believe that it helps diminish surface stains on your teeth. However, this is not a scientifically proven method and it can have some adverse oral health effects.
- Apple cider vinegar: Its bacteria-killing properties have made apple cider a long-time resource for cleaning and disinfecting. Because of its bleaching abilities, some choose to dilute apple cider vinegar with water and use it as a mouthwash. Unfortunately, its acidic properties can cause this concoction to have a highly damaging erosive effect on your teeth.
- Fruit: It doesn’t get any more natural than fresh fruit/vegetables. Some people believe that eating fruits (like pineapple or strawberries) or rubbing fruit peels on your teeth can help remove plaque and lighten stains. However, overeating certain acidic fruits can actually damage your teeth over time. You should also keep in mind this method has not been proven to lead to whiter teeth.
- Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is a porous form of carbon which is abrasive and will remove surface stains from teeth. According to the CDA the abrasiveness of charcoal paste has the potential to harm tooth enamel. Charcoal does not have any proven oral health benefits. Using oral care products that contain charcoal, whether short or long-term, is not recommended by the CDA.
- Whitening toothpaste: Many toothpaste brands promote their teeth whitening capabilities. These products often include hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which are known to lighten a tooth’s color. Do they really work? Let’s discover…
The Facts vs. Fiction of Natural Teeth Whitening
FICTION: Eating fruit is a safe and effective way to whiten your smile.
FACT: One DIY whitening method involves consuming fruits such as papaya and pineapple, which contain certain enzymes believed to help remove stains. While some claim this can help lighten surface stains and whiten your smile, there’s no scientific data proving its validity. Others believe that eating citrus fruits or apple cider vinegar can whiten teeth safely. However, prolonged exposure to acidic substances can actually wear away your enamel, causing permanent tooth damage.
FICTION: Natural tooth whitening is permanent.
FACT: While some people have found varying degrees of success from using natural methods, none of these are a long-lasting solution. Each of the natural methods mentioned above requires regular repetition in order to observe a difference, assuming there is one at all. A few sessions of professional tooth whitening, however, are far likelier to have long-lasting results, especially with follow-up visits to refresh the color.
FICTION: Effective teeth whitening can happen in just a few minutes.
FACT: Unfortunately, there is no immediate fix when it comes to natural teeth whitening. There are plenty of things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and stain-free, including regular brushing and flossing, regular cleaning, avoiding tobacco products, tooth staining food and beverages like coffee, tea, red wine or chocolate. Once your teeth have been discolored, however, it takes some work to brighten them again. Frequent natural teeth whitening is inadvisable, as many methods can lead to enamel erosion and tooth damage.
Professional teeth whitening practices typically involve several applications for the best results. At Dental Choice, in office teeth whitening takes an hour minimum, divided into four 15-minute applications at a time. Those with heavy stains may need additional sessions and results can vary.
FICTION: Whitening toothpaste will have a visible impact on the color of my teeth.
FACT: Toothpastes marketed for their teeth whitening properties typically do have effective whitening chemicals in them. According to some research, whitening toothpastes that are highly abrasive should not be used for more than 4 weeks. Doing so could damage your teeth.
FICTION: Baking soda is a safe teeth whitening method.
FACT: From blending it with strawberries to mixing it with water, baking soda is a common DIY tooth whitening ingredient. While it may be effective at removing stains, a baking soda paste is not a safe or advisable long term solution. It can disturb the balance of good to bad bacteria in your mouth, potentially causing oral health problems that may need to be fixed later.
FICTION: DIY whitening is just as effective as professional teeth whitening.
FACT: Professional teeth whitening offers a host of benefits that attempting your own at home cannot. Professional teeth whitening methods are conducted by dental professionals and far likelier to be safe and damage-free, and they are also much more likely to leave you with successful results. Many dentists use teeth whitening trays that are customized to offer the look you’re hoping for.
Professional dentists will also be able to offer you follow-up instructions and provide touch-ups over time if needed.
Contact Dental Choice for a Free Consultation Today
Your smile says it all. At Dental Choice, we strive to provide quality care and effective results so that you can keep your smile bright and beautiful. With over 20 years of experience and a team of trained dentists, our aim is always to provide teeth whitening services that help healthy teeth shine. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a free consultation.
This article was reviewed by Dr. Ghotbizadeh of Zenith Dental Choice.