Bright, clean, and stain-free teeth are a symbol of youth and health, and who can deny that having a beautiful smile helps us feel more confident? As a bonus, gorgeous white teeth are less likely to clash with your lipstick! Of course, the dental care market is flooded with options for DIY teeth whitening: from gels to stain-busting rinses, there’s no shortage of teeth whitening products from big-name dental care brands.
Many of us prefer to avoid these options, however, for a variety of reasons. First, most come from non-cruelty-free brands. Second, we’re not quite sure what all of those unpronounceable ingredients mean or do or what really happens when we accidentally (but inevitably) swallow a little. Third, the majority of whitening products contain tooth-sensitizing ingredients—especially the more aggressive “professional” strips and gels; after a round of these, merely inhaling cool air can make teeth ache. Fourth, for some, super white teeth don’t feel natural. Teeth the color of printer paper can be anything but attractive – remember Ross’ glow-in-the-dark mishap in Friends?
Fortunately, there are several minimally processed options for those of us who want to brighten our smiles without the side effects or concerns that accompany conventional whitening products. Most are inexpensive—and some are you can easily DIY with common household ingredients! Here are a few options to get you started:
Coconut oil pulling:
Although the claim that coconut oil pulling can “detox” your mouth is still up for debate, coconut oil is antimicrobial and does appear to help people achieve healthy, white teeth. To practice oil pulling, swish a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes each morning. Alternatively, you can add a bit to your toothbrush and brush it on. Either way, just be sure to spit out the oil rather than swallow it.
Smart Ash Activated Charcoal Toothpaste Alternative:
Smart Ash is a fluoride-free blend of activated coconut shell charcoal, bentonite clay, organic orange peel extract, organic frankincense, and organic mint extract. This innovative formula is designed to whiten teeth (without abrading them) while helping to remineralize and strengthen them. This toothpaste alternative is also formulated to help reverse tooth sensitivity.
Activated coconut shell charcoal works to whiten teeth by pulling out stains. Meanwhile, bentonite clay adsorbs and eliminates toxins. That’s not a typo – it “adsorbs” rather than absorbs them, meaning it acts like a magnet, allowing the toxins to bond to the clay and leave your mouth when you spit out Smart Ash.
Baking Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide:
These common toothpaste ingredients can really make a difference in the appearance of your teeth. With this simple recipe, you’re just getting the active ingredients—without any preservatives or colorants. Simply mix a shake of baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to create a runny paste—the paste should not be gritty or abrasive. Dip your toothbrush in the mixture and brush as normal. If you have sensitive gums, dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water.
Dr. Brite Tooth Whitening Pen:
The antioxidant-infused whitening pens by Dr. Brite contain safe, food-grade ingredients, including glycerin, vitamin C, and coconut oil. The pen may be used 2-3 times a day after your regular brushing. The line also offers peroxide-free versions of the pen for those who may have sensitive gums.
Wellscent Shine Dental Powder:
If you have a bigger beauty budget, consider this dental powder by Wellscent. Formulated with baking soda, MSM, green clay, neem, and peppermint, this mineral-rich powder offers holistic tooth care. Not only does it help remove stains, it fights inflammation, plaque, and bacteria.
Brush after meals:
This one is a no-brainer, of course. We all know it’s critical to brush our teeth regularly. Brushing teeth immediately after a meal (or cup of joe), however, will quickly remove surface stains before they set in and become more difficult to remove. This is also a great strategy for minimizing the build-up of plaque and bacteria.
What not to use:
Several sources advocate the use of strawberries (with baking soda) as an easy way to whiten teeth. I’ve even tried this method myself. In researching this piece, however, I discovered that the fruit acids in strawberries may actually eat away at tooth enamel. The same goes for lemon juice/lemons peels. Alas, it’s best to give yummy-sounding fruit treatments a pass.
Do you have a favorite way to naturally whiten teeth?