Teeth whitening products are big business. Many people attempt homemade versions for good reason – they're less expensive, and use natural ingredients. Plenty of these teeth whitening home remedies can be found on the internet. But which ones are truly effective and which are just smoke and mirrors? In today's post, we're going to answer this question by combining two criteria: cold hard science, and celebrity endorsements.
1. Baking Soda
By mixing baking soda with water, you can create a toothpaste that also works great for whitening the teeth. Baking soda works because it's abrasive – but not too abrasive. Research into the effectiveness of baking soda for teeth whitening found it was even more effective than some commercial toothpastes using more abrasive ingredients.
Add water to baking soda until you've reaching your preferred consistency (not too watery, unless you want teeth-whitening soup). Continue mixing until the consistency is even, but keep in mind that toothpaste made this way will never be as smooth as store-bought toothpaste. The extra grittiness that baking soda toothpaste has over conventional toothpaste is feature, not a bug.
Julia Roberts, with one of the most famous smiles in Hollywood, has used baking powder as part of her dental care routine ever since her grandfather told her he sprinkled baking soda onto his toothbrush, and never got a cavity.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Working similarly to peroxide, vinegar has a bleaching effect. A study found that white vinegar and apple cider vinegar both worked to whiten teeth. Both were also, however, harsher than peroxide. White vinegar was the harshest, making apple cider vinegar the way to go.
If you still remember your elementary school science fair project, you'll know that vinegar + baking soda equals a volcano, not a toothpaste. Instead, wet a toothbrush with a bit of vinegar and brush it on. To avoid damage, use vinegar even more sparingly than you would peroxide.
Orlando Bloom swears by apple cider vinegar for a variety of benefits, including this one.
3. Papayas and pineapples
Scientists have found that papain – an enzyme found in papayas – and bromelain – an enzyme found in pineapple – outperform regular toothpaste in teeth whitening. For an at-home solution, add more papaya and/or pineapple to your diet. Be sure to chew the food fully and allow it to come into contact with all of your teeth so the enzymes will be able to work their magic.
Australian model Miranda Kerr recommends this natural tooth-whitening technique as a less-abrasive alternative to the other homemade options.
4. Good Dental Hygiene
The best way to keep your teeth white is to prevent them from getting stained in the first place. When tooth enamel wears away – either from staining beverages or ordinary decay – it reveals the yellower dentin underneath.
To properly care for your teeth, brush at least twice per day using fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly to keep the spaces between your teeth clean, and use a quality mouthwash. (Duh.)
Nicole Kidman recently made an appearance on a new Sesame Street initiative Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me to promote good basic dental hygiene practices.
Every coffee drinker knows that coffee can stain teeth, but it's not the only culprit. Sadly, many of the foods we love will betray our teeth by discoloring them. This can lead to whatever whitening methods you're using being less effective than they would be otherwise. Nor is it practical to brush your teeth after every drink. Instead, try using straws as often as possible. This will help keep the stains and acids of the beverage away from your teeth.
Opray Winfrey recently added re-usable glass straws to her “favorite things” list – a healthy option for teeth and the environment.
6. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a practice dating back centuries that involves rinsing the mouth out with coconut, sesame, or sunflower oils. It's similar to a mouthwash. After being placed in the mouth, it's 'pulled' between the spaces of the teeth and sloshed around to provide a thorough clean.
Along with its benefits of reducing plaque and gingivitis, some studies have suggested that oil pulling may whiten teeth. This makes oil pulling a worthwhile addition to your oral care routine. Even if you find its teeth whitening properties don't live up to the hype, you can at least be confident that you are making your mouth healthier.
Actress Shailene Woodley specifically recommends a sesame oil pull: “It’s amazing! It really makes your teeth whiter, because the plaque on your teeth is not water soluble, it’s fat-soluble. So the lipids have to dissolve in fats, which is why oil works in your mouth.”
We know what you are thinking – “but turmeric stains everything”! Not everything!
Thankfully, teeth are spared the wrath of the yellow tinge. Many people swear by the ancient Indian practice of using turmeric as a tooth whitening agent. There's evidence that curcumin, a polyphenol contained in turmeric, has antiseptic properties and offers a wide range of therapeutic benefits for your mouth. In addition to its whitening effects, its also been shown to reduce tooth pain and help to fight off gingivitis.
Julianne Hough – dancer, actress, and singer – is an outspoken advocate of the method, and creates her own at-home whitening products using Turmeric as the base.
8. Orange Peels
An ingredient in many commercial teeth whitening solutions is d-limonene, a compound found in the peels of citrus fruit. The ingredient has been shown to help reduce and prevent smoking stains on teeth but not coffee and tea stains. Still, many people advocate using citrus peels as part of an overall natural teeth whitening solution. If you'd like to try for yourself, peel an orange and wipe your teeth with the white part of the rind.
Remember, though – citrus juice is acidic and can harm the enamel on your teeth. So you'll want to make sure that you're using the rind only, and that it's not coated in the juice.
Peel-based techniques are some of the most popular tooth whitening videos on YouTube – the platform for the next generation of big names.
9. Activated Charcoal
There's no scientific evidence that activated charcoal makes a significant difference in teeth whitening. There is, however, an entire industry of followers who believe that it works. Being abrasive, charcoal may aid in removing surface-level stains, but you should be careful not to use it every day as it could wear down the enamel.
Activated charcoal is used by wetting a toothbrush, and dipping it into the charcoal before brushing.
Gwyneth Paltrow has famously been a proponent of activated charcoal as a natural whitening technique. If you have faith in GOOP, give it a try.