There is nothing more attractive than a nice smile. A smile can take you places, form connections and forge lasting bonds.
Healthy white teeth are the building blocks to that nice smile. If you haven’t been prudent in caring for your teeth, at – home damage control can prove effective.
Bleaching kits, however, should be used with caution as advised by dentist Dr Jablow who also coined the term “bleachorexic”.
According to her, bleaching could be counterproductive by weakening enamel and making them yellower, thus defeating the purpose.
It would be then worthwhile to whiten our teeth in the comforts of the available resources of our own kitchens.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Knowing a thing or two about caring for your pearly whites can avert wear and tear and preserve their glory and grace.
A water rinse is good after consuming foods and fruits that are acidic, which can erode the enamel. A pinch of salt to the rinse has the added benefit creating an alkaline environment, making it harder for bacteria to survive.
Teas, coffees, colas and the like, that contain tannins can stain teeth and must be consumed in moderation and followed by a rinse.
Extremely hot or cold beverages can cause discomfort and erode enamel. Smoking tobacco should be avoided as it causes discoloration.
Damage control: Factors beyond control such as age, high levels of fluoride in water, medication, etc. can lead to stains and yellow teeth.
Other than cosmetic dentistry, we can be innovative and proactive in our home remedies to whiten teeth as the 5 listed below:
- Benefits of Home Teeth Whitening
- Various Methods of Home Teeth Whitening
- Home teeth whitening trays
- Whitening Strips
- Brush-on whiteners
- Whitening toothpaste
- Whitening Floss
- 1. Activated Charcoal
- 2. Oil pulling
- 3. Baking Soda
- 4. Turmeric
- 5. Lemon Juice
- Possible Issues and Precautions
Benefits of Home Teeth Whitening
There are various benefits to home teeth whitening.
- Since most people live very busy professional lives, finding time to visit a dentist for periodic teeth whitening can be time-consuming. Using the right home teeth whitening kit can save money and time. You can go about your daily chores while whitening teeth.
- Home teeth whitening kits are simple to use.
- To achieve long-term results, many dentists advise patients to continue teeth whitening at home for even a year. Some products like teeth whitening strips need to be used only for 5 minutes a day – similar to flossing or brushing.
- There is a wide range of home teeth whitening products available – paint-on products, strips, gels, whitening trays, and many whitening accessories.
- These kits are portable and can be even used when traveling or at work
- The cost is a major factor – in-house whitening can cost $650 on average for a single session. On the other hand, while home-based whitening kits supplied by a dentist cost about $400, at-home OTC kits range in cost from $4-$100 making them easily affordable.
Various Methods of Home Teeth Whitening
Always remember to whiten teeth at home after a meal or drink.
However, you must make sure you are hydrated. Some teeth whitening kits allow you to have a drink of water during the process. Always exercise caution before using any home teeth whitening kit.
Getting a dentist’s recommendation will avoid all kinds of problems and help us choose the right one.
A kit with excess peroxide can over whiten teeth and vice versa.
Use a home teeth whitening kit immediately after a cleaning session with a dentist for maximum effect.
For best results use a whitening kit after brushing and flossing teeth and avoid food and drinks (except water) for a couple of hours after you whiten teeth.
Here are some of the common home teeth whitening systems available and their uses.
Commercial Teeth Whitening Products
Home teeth whitening trays
These trays supplied by dentists are considered the safest and best especially if they need to be used for long periods. These trays contain higher bleach concentration compared to OTC kits.
These kits usually contain custom-made trays made from flexible plastic and which fit teeth perfectly.
These offer best whitening results, reduce the amount of bleach that comes in contact with gums and causes inflammation and also ensures that the bleach comes into uniform contact with teeth, therefore, offering maximum whitening.
The bleaching agents can be custom made with a desensitizing agent to protect gums and teeth. They may come pre-loaded on the tray or available in easy-to-use syringes.
Each custom-made tray could cause $100. Some of the tray-based home teeth whitening kits that dentists give include:
- ‘Philips Nite White and Day White ACP’ that costs between $200-$400. It has kits with varying concentrations of hydrogen peroxide for day or night use. It contains fluoride, potassium nitrate that reduces sensitivity and amorphous calcium phosphate which is known to be an enamel re-builder.
- ‘Philips Nite White Turbo’ contains 6% hydrogen peroxide which is mint flavored. It costs $200-$400 and can be used either night or day for differing durations.
- ‘Philips Zoom Weekender Kit’ has a time release agent that increases bleach penetration and 6% hydrogen peroxide gel. it can be used either overnight, 1-2 hours daily or 2-4 hours twice daily depending on the sensitivity of teeth to bleach.
- ‘Opalescence by Ultradent’ uses viscous carbamide peroxide that can be left on teeth for longer hours for better results. It also contains fluoride and potassium nitrate in a special combination to reduce sensitivity. Available in different strengths and flavors, it can be used with custom-made trays. Opalescence trays cost from $150-$200.
- Opalescence Trèswhite Supreme’ offers a simple to use inexpensive whitener with an innovative tray that fits all sizes. This is a preferred kit for those who want to quickly whiten teeth before an important social or business event or when traveling. It costs from $75-$200.
These are invisible strips that have a coating of whitening gel.
They are easy to apply and do not require any molding, therefore making them easy to fit on all shapes of teeth.
They are not very expensive and can be used even when working or traveling.
Strips are available with different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and cost, ranging from $19-$44. Some like ‘Crest Whitestrips Supreme’ has 14% hydrogen peroxide.
These strips are not suited for uneven teeth and are not effective in removing stains found between teeth crevices. Saliva can also interact with the bleach making it less effective.
These resemble a pen and are easy to use.
They can instantly get rid of food stains, stains from beverages like red wine etc. Costing from $12-$99 dentists often use them as an addition to tray or in-office bleaching procedures.
These come with abrasives and chemical bleaching agents.
They can be used as a supplementary treatment after a tooth whitening procedure.
- Toothpaste with peroxide: While these do whiten teeth, the amount of bleach in them is minimal to prevent irritation.
- Toothpaste with abrasives: These come with finely ground abrasives like baking soda, silica, calcium carbonate or aluminum oxide. Overuse can dull dental veneers or crowns and cause more stains to form.
Daily use of this can remove stains from spaces between our teeth and reach difficult stains.
It is different from standard dental floss for it contains abrasives like silica.
Natural Teeth Whitening Methods
1. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is carbon, processed into an absorbent form that acts like a sponge soaking up toxins and bacteria.
It’s effective in stain removal from teeth, and is specifically attracted to tannins but doesn’t have enamel eroding effects.
As a bonus, it contributes to an alkaline environment in the mouth.
How it works for Teeth Whitening
Activated charcoal has been used since ancient times as a medicine to treat reactions caused by oral ingestion of poisons.
It acts by absorbing the poison and preventing it from entering the gastrointestinal tract.
It is, therefore, medicinal and different from the ones that sit in barbeque pits. As the name suggests it is a derivative of charcoal that is oxidized to have a varied, porous structure.
It is a black, tasteless powder made from wood, coal and other resources.
One teaspoon of activated charcoal is known to have pores that could cover 10,000 square feet, making it very powerful in its absorbent capacity.
When applied on teeth it binds to its pores microbes, debris, and toxins. The best part is its stain removal abilities as it specifically attracts tannins caused by tea, coffee, red wines etc.
Miraculously, minerals such as fluoride and calcium remain intact rendering the enamel relatively safe.
It also works better in an acidic environment to balance out the pH. It can counteract cavities and promote healthy gums. The longer it stays in the mouth the better it works.
Activated charcoal as an ingredient in teeth whitening is available in powdered form or can be squeezed out of capsules or tablets by crushing them.
It can be mixed in various formulations to effectively brighten.
1. Charcoal + water mix
This is the easiest and fastest way to whiten. Mix a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of charcoal to form a thick paste.
Brush for about 2 – 3 minutes and rinse out to be rid of the excess charcoal.
The same can be combined to form a mouthwash mix with a little more water if needed. Swish for about 3 – 5 minutes.
Spit out the water and let the charcoal sit for another 3 minutes. Finally, rinse with clear water.
2. Charcoal + oil pulling
Oil pulling is a ritual that delivers detox effects orally and throughout the body. Oil pulling with coconut oil is particularly effective, although it can be done with sesame and olive oil as well.
Oil pulling with a charcoal – coconut combination can reap the benefits of the two to clean teeth and filter toxins.
Blend a tablespoon of coconut oil and ¼ tablespoon of activated charcoal powder. Swish in the mouth for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Start with 2 minutes or as long as possible, to gradually increase to 20 minutes. Spit out and thoroughly rinse with water. Wipe out any excess charcoal.
This method is also great to clean out any debris and toxins in dental fixtures like braces.
3. Charcoal Oil paste
Mix a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder to half a teaspoon of coconut oil into a thick paste.
Add it on a brush and work it on teeth for about 2 – 3 minutes. Rinse out thoroughly after and wipe off any remaining charcoal to reveal a radiant smile.
4. Charcoal + peppermint + clove
Peppermint oil is privy to being a mouth freshener while clove oil counts its benefits in being antibacterial and favorable to gum health.
In this mix a teaspoon of coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon activated charcoal powder, 2 drops of clove and a drop of peppermint oil combine into a paste.
Brush to sparkling teeth for about 2 minutes and follow up with a water rinse.
A pinch of charcoal
In being pressed for time, the activated charcoal powder can be added to daily brushing by sprinkling on some toothpaste.
Home remedies such as activated charcoal have been proven to be effective but can’t be substituted for regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups.
When used in home remedies for teeth – whitening it is recommended to use activated charcoal made from natural forms like nutshells, coconut shells etc.
While activated charcoal works in cleaning and brightening, it takes time to take effect and the results won’t be the same as professional whitening. As a remedial measure, it should be used in moderation, being abrasive in nature it could damage enamel.
It should, therefore, be used only every alternate day and should be discontinued if the teeth feel sensitive. The potency of a tablespoon of powder is equivalent to 14 capsules.
While making a mix keep this in mind to use a lesser quantity in case of the powder which is more potent. It’s best to use discretion with the above mixes, adjust quantities, and tweak the method accordingly to what suits best.
Be prepared, as the procedure could get messy. Use a towel that you wouldn’t mind staining and a separate brush for the drill. Keep wipes handy.
2. Oil pulling
Is safe, natural and counts numerous followers due to it’s proven benefits.
Listed as a daily morning Ayurvedic ritual it provides a host of detox – benefits starting at the mouth, down to the body. Oil pulling can be practiced with coconut, sesame, sunflower or olive oil.
The best of the three, for this purpose, is coconut oil.
Coconut oil has medicinal properties with the presence of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) and Lauric acid, keeping bacteria and viruses at bay.
Many people claim that through regular oil pulling they’ve experienced better dental health, fresher breath, and whiter teeth!
The method suggests, swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil for about 20 minutes, on waking. I managed 5 minutes and found the same effects of a cloudy mix of the oil on spitting it out.
The cloudy mix indicates the oil pulled the toxins from the mouth. Swishing for as long as you can, to gradually increase the time might help. It is then followed by regular brushing with toothpaste.
3. Baking Soda
Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate, an inexpensive alkaline solution to many beauty woes and health worries.
Scientific and anecdotal evidence point it out as an antacid, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal aid. It has a mild exfoliating effect on the teeth, polishing out plaque and other bacteria.
Brushing with toothpaste sprinkled with baking soda can make teeth squeaky clean and sparkly white.
Baking soda mixes can include cinnamon – a welcome addition to dental health known to be a mouth freshener.
Dabbing a paste of cinnamon and baking soda onto a wet or oil coated toothbrush can work wonders in crafting sparkly whites.
Turmeric is a spice that gives us more than a golden glow. It is known to be a superfood with roots in the ginger family.
It offers generous amounts of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and antioxidant benefits.
The many studies done on the health benefits of turmeric have confirmed its contributions that are also extended to dental wellbeing.
Why turmeric is great for teeth whitening
Abuild-upp of bacteria that feeds upon plaque and poor dental hygiene can lead to a host of other problems.
It causes tartar, gum disease and a definite decay of tooth enamel. These underlying problems visibly manifest themselves in discolorations, stains, yellow and unattractive teeth.
Turmeric has been a contributing content in cavity sealants, mouthwashes etc.
Its bountiful benefits are blatant in its ability as a preventive and restorative to maintain dental health and to eventually display cosmetic gains of whiter teeth.
The magic of Curcumin
Turmeric contains a chemical compound called curcumin that reveals hues of yellow-and orange.
Numerous studies on the compound have made turmeric a well-known spice.
It is this element of turmeric, which brings in the therapeutic aspects of an antiseptic, analgesic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Studies have proven that massaging teeth and gums with turmeric can ease soreness and swelling.
It has also been proven that as a sub gingival irrigant it is better than other anti-inflammatory solutions, thus giving relief to red and swollen gums.
Thus, the curcumin component in turmeric is primarily accountable for its action in gum inflammation.
Other important contents: Turmeric is also a supplier of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese.
It’s also a source of fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
It’s known that a combination of potassium, magnesium, and manganese in turmeric can help remove stains and whiten teeth. In addition, the calcium content can help absorb the minerals to work better.
Vitamin C in turmeric can support deficiencies that cause tooth decay, gum problems and in turn manifest in healthier looking teeth.
A study demonstrated that turmeric as a mouthwash had commendable abilities as an anti-microbial aid.
Studies have also shown that compared to antibiotics the antibacterial effects of plants like turmeric were more effective.
The powder has abrasive and astringent properties that work on staining and in turn whitening teeth.
Turmeric can be used in conjunction with other ingredients for teeth whitening. Being a natural remedy, it offers healing for oral health to give teeth a glossy healthy white look.
1. Turmeric + water
Before brushing with toothpaste, mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with equal parts water into a paste.
Dab the brush in the paste and gently brush in circular strokes for about 2 minutes. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and follow up with regular brushing.
2. Turmeric + baking soda
Baking soda does a great job of cleaning stains from enamel. In combination with turmeric can be a sure shot to polish and brighten teeth.
Use 1/4th teaspoon of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of water and combine well to form a paste.
Apply it onto a brush and brush on gently for about 2 minutes – 3 minutes. Follow up with a thorough water rinse for about 30 seconds.
3. Turmeric + coconut oil
Coconut oil combats bad bacteria and protects gums. Together with turmeric, it works as on oral hygiene and teeth whitening.
Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with an equal part of coconut oil into a paste.
Scoop the mix on to a brush. Brush for about 2 – 3 minutes. Rinse out with water.
4. Turmeric + Lemon juice
Lemon juice has the ability to bleach teeth. It can combine with turmeric to remove stains and support dental health.
Dilute a teaspoon of lemon juice with a teaspoon of water. Mix it into a paste with the turmeric. Brush gently onto teeth for about a minute.
Rinse out with water for about 30 seconds. Lemon juice has a mild erosive action, which can damage the enamel if done too often. It’s best to use the technique fortnightly.
5. Turmeric + Clove + Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil acts as a mouth freshener and has a cooling effect, while clove has antimicrobial properties.
They work with turmeric in a refreshing mix ensuing healthy gums and whiter teeth.
Make a paste of turmeric with water or coconut oil. Blend with a drop each of peppermint and clove oil. Brush gently onto teeth for about 2 – 3 minutes. Follow up with a water rinse for 30 seconds.
6. Turmeric with Bentonite clay
Bentonite clay has similar properties as turmeric in polishing a sparkly smile. In addition, it can also restore the pH balance of the mouth.
Mix a teaspoon each of bentonite powder and turmeric in water or coconut oil to form a paste. Apply it on to a toothbrush and brush for 2 – 3 minutes. Rinse out with water.
Repeat regularly to achieve the best results.
Using turmeric in teeth whitening is evidently efficient and safe. It should, however, be used in moderation due to its abrasive properties.
- Every alternate day when used with water and gentle brush strokes will not cause harm.
- Baking soda is an abrasive as well and turmeric combination method should be done once a week or in once in 10 days.
- Turmeric powder has a grainy consistency that could get trapped in dental braces, demanding more effort in rinsing it out.
- Turmeric leaves yellow stains. The stains could persist on gums, which will gradually fade.
Rinse thoroughly with water after any of the methods. Use a separate toothbrush for turmeric treatments.
- Although turmeric has great cleansing and preventive properties, it has to be used an adjunct to mineralizing toothpaste.
Turmeric is a natural boon and bounty, providing benefits to oral health and hygiene. In combinations with other at – home ingredients, it acts as a maintenance measure to keep teeth in top shape.
5. Lemon Juice
There are many natural home remedies that can be used to whiten teeth at home.
These are useful especially when you wish to maintain your teeth after professional whitening has been done. Natural home remedies to whiten teeth have been used for generations.
Some of these methods are simple, quick, effective and inexpensive.
Even though the 20th century has seen a proliferation of various whitening systems – both home and professional – many people still prefer these tried and tested natural remedies.
There are several home remedies that have been used to whiten teeth like lemon juice, strawberries, apples, baking soda and more.
Baking soda combined with lemon juice has been recommended as a natural home remedy for teeth whitening. Take a small bowl and place some baking soda and squeeze in the juice of one lemon.
The mixture will bubble a bit.
Wipeout extra saliva and clean teeth with a cotton swab. Now use a brush or another cotton swab to apply the mixture on your teeth.
Take care to avoid the gums. You can leave this mixture on for precisely one minute before brushing off with a toothbrush.
Lemon juice contains citric acid which has bleaching effects and baking soda is a natural abrasive that can remove surface stains.
Do not leave it for longer than a minute for lemon juice will erode tooth enamel. Use not more than once a week for otherwise your teeth enamel can get irrevocably damaged.
Lemon juice has a low pH level of 2.3.
This means that it is acidic and leaving it on for long periods will cause more harm than good. It could result in the loss of calcium in the teeth.
Possible Issues and Precautions
We have seen the various home teeth whitening options that are available.
Knowing certain precautionary measures and who can and cannot use these products is very important.
People who have fillings or crowns, those with sensitive teeth and people with intrinsic stains caused by tetracycline or other antibiotics are not very good candidates for home teeth whitening.
You must also know the extent of your stains. For example, if your teeth appear yellowish, the stains are probably superficial and may turn a few shades brighter with home bleaching.
On the other hand, grayish or darker-hued teeth will not improve much with bleaching.
Make sure the product you get is certified. Brushing with potassium nitrate toothpaste for sensitive teeth can soothe irritation caused to the nerve endings after a whitening session.
Get a dentist to examine you and make sure the product you plan to use is safe. Always get a product which has right concentrations of carbamide peroxide that you can tolerate.
Read label instructions very carefully and follow them to the letter. Leaving on whitening paint or gels for longer than recommended can cause gum irritation and other problems like inflammation.
Avoid acidic drinks for 2 hours after a whitening session. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with sensitive teeth or inflamed gums must not attempt teeth whitening at home.
Do not whiten your teeth too often simply because there are affordable products available. Bleaching more than twice a year is not recommended.
Sometimes you may develop a sore throat or patches on your gums after a home teeth whitening session. This usually disappears after a few days.
Follow these few safety tips before using home teeth whitening kits to avoid side effects.
Incorporating the tenets of oral hygiene to ensure healthy gums and teeth is primary.
Beauty comes from the inside out and therefore prioritizing dental health would exhibit cosmetic benefits.