A smile can be a representation of many things like happiness and strength. It often has the power to lift the energy and light up in a room. Some might even say that a smile is the best makeup a girl can wear and the preferred shade is definitely sparkly white! Everywhere you turn today a celebrity is advertising teeth whiteners and promising the best smile money can buy. But at what cost? Do we even know what’s in these chemical based bleaches and if they are even safe, let alone effective?
There are two reasons that teeth become yellow or stained: extrinsic discoloration and intrinsic discoloration. Extrinsic discoloration is due to beverages such as coffee, water with high levels of fluoride, red wine, tea, soda, antibiotics, smoking, and food with heavy dyes that affect the surface of the teeth. Intrinsic discoloration is caused from within by things like infection, certain medication, heavy metals such as iron or copper, genetics, childhood illness, trauma to the tooth, and aging.
Most people opt for harsh whiteners and bleach that may potentially destroy the enamel, remove minerals from teeth, cause sensitivity, irritate gums, and disrupt the good bacteria that protects from harmful microbes. A study published in 2013 reported that the light tools that accompany many of these methods showed no benefit versus bleaching alone. Also, dental whitening treatments often use 35% hydrogen peroxide, which may disrupt existing Amalgam fillings. In 2016, Tabriz University of Medical Science discussed that the hydrogen peroxide used in professional whitening treatments may release up to 43% more mercury vapors. This may also increase deterioration of silver fillings and lead to poisonous toxins getting into the bloodstream.
Lucky for us, there are natural, more effective ways to help whiten and brighten our smile. See some of our favorites below:
Activated Charcoal is a byproduct of slowly burnt wood, coconut shells, corn, or decayed vegetative matter. It is then treated with oxygen to activate and become porous. This helps it bind to toxins responsible for surface stains on the teeth while safely removing it. Because the charcoal is black in color, it naturally will color correct and brighten. Always opt for organic charcoal derived from coconut shells and dip a wet toothbrush into charcoal powder and brush it into your teeth. Leave it on for 1 to 2 minutes, rinse, and then brush with toothpaste.
Turmeric is a golden-yellow, orange-colored root that is a part of the ginger family. Known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, turmeric occurs in multiple studies to not only whiten teeth, but also to helps remove plaque, prevent gingivitis, and gum disease. Always use high-quality organic turmeric powder, dip a wet toothbrush, and brush into teeth. Leave it on for a minimum of five minutes, rinse, and brush with toothpaste.
Strawberries - High in malic acid, strawberries help to remove surface stains. Crush several rand mix with baking soda. Apply with a toothbrush and let sit for a few minutes. Brush teeth with water to remove paste and rinse well. Use once or two times per week.
Coconut oil pulling is a technique that has been used for over 3000 years. It contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory components that help release bacteria, prevent oral diseases, and whiten teeth all at once. Multiple studies show pulling with coconut oil regularly may also prevent tooth decay and cavities, reduce bad breath, and improve overall oral health. Scoop two tablespoons of organic unrefined coconut oil into your mouth and swish it around. Start with 5 minutes your first time and gradually work your way up to 15 to 20 minutes. You will often notice that as you continue the practice, the oil you spit out will be clearer as the oral environment improves. Utilizing this practice often will gradually help whiten and brighten teeth. Many experts suggest this be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and brushing teeth directly after for best results.
Essential oils and Herbs have been utilized in Aryuvedic practices for centuries to help cleanse and whiten teeth. Essential oils such as lemon, peppermint, sweet orange, clove, wintergreen, eucalyptus, and cardamom all have shown to reduce bad bacteria and help whiten stained teeth. Herbs and roots such as mint, neem, licorice, and cinnamon also are beneficial to oral health. Many natural toothpaste and mouthwashes now include these healing and whitening herbs and oils for daily use.
By @jenacovello and Natasha M
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.