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Post by Contributor, Jamie Larrison of How to Just About Anything
Years ago I decided to take the fast track to a whiter, more vibrant smile. Enticed by the Hollywood dazzle, I tried out the popular whitening strips and gelled trays. Not only were there little to no results after one application, but it burned my gums and made my teeth incredibly sensitive to hot and cold foods.
These products work by bleaching your enamel with harsh concentrations of chemicals. Not only do they remove the stains (most of the time), but they also strip the enamel, making teeth more sensitive and brittle.
This Dental Hygienest recommends using a sensitivity toothpaste while whitening teeth. She goes on to add, “One time, I made the mistake of ordering a different brand that was stronger than 20% (carbamide peroxide) and literally burned away part of my gums within minutes!”
Ironically she still recommends the product as a professional in her field.
Not something you want to use? Me either! Fortunately for you there are much safer ways to whiten your teeth at home, without the expense or hassle of gooey trays and strips.
There’s plenty of bad advice out there. Like this article that warns against using baking soda in favor of ADA approved, abrasive, fluoride laden, whitening toothpaste. This same article also recommends using chocolate and sugar free gum to enhance those pearly whites (insert palm to face here).
There is much advice on how to whiten your teeth in the natural health world. Some of it is legitimate, while others I’m not so sure about. Like rubbing banana peels on your teeth. Really not sure about that one! So what does work?
Whiten Teeth Naturally
1. Hydrogen peroxide
This was a staple in my teeth whitening regimen the summer before my wedding. I would swish 1 part peroxide with 1 part water in my mouth for 1 minute. Since then I’ve come up with a super simple whitening mouthwash using peroxide. Conventional mouthwash, like Listerine’s Whitening plus Restoring Fluoride rinse, boasts it’s use of peroxide to whiten the teeth. But what’s really in it?
PEG-40 hydrogenated castor extract (tainted with cancer causing dioxanes), fluoride, phosphoric ACID, poloxamer 407, and several types of sugars, sucralose and sorbitol.
No thanks! Here’s my recipe instead. Clove is wonderful for any pain and sensitivity in the mouth, while lemon adds extra whitening power.
DIY Whitening Mouth Wash
- 1.5 tsp Food grade 35% hydrogen peroxide
- 2 cups Filtered water
- 3-5 drops Essential oil of choice (cinnamon and clove, peppermint or spearmint are all excellent)
- 3 drops Tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops Lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake gently before each use. Mason jars are perfect for this! Store in a cool place.
Although it sounds backwards, brushing your teeth with this black powder works wonders! Its especially good for removing stains caused by the tannins in tea, coffee and wine. This can also be combined with coconut oil and used for an extra whitening oil pull.
Yes, the same bright orange powder that stains everything it touches actually whitens your teeth. I haven’t found brushing with it to be as effective as charcoal. It does however work well when applied as a paste to the teeth and allowed to sit for 15 minutes or so before brushing off with toothpaste.
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4. Baking Soda
Many people automatically think of baking soda when they think of teeth whitening. This classic staple will shine your pearly whites, but be careful. Baking soda can irritate gums in high amounts, so don’t use every day or brush for long periods.
5. You are What you Eat
Our diets effect our mouth health more than anything else. Fat soluble vitamins found in pastured eggs, meat, organ meats and raw milk are vital for strong, healthy teeth. Minimizing harmful foods like excess sweets and grains rich in the anti-nutrient phytic acid are also important. The Weston A Price Foundation and Ramiel Nagel’s book, Cure Tooth Decay are both excellent resources on diets ideal for mouth health.
Don’t forget the fruits and veggies! These contain a vast array of vitamins and minerals that are just as important to mouth health and strong enamel. Katie from Wellness Mama has a great article summarizing the ideal diet for building healthy, strong, white enamel.