A smile always brightens one’s day… especially if you have sparkling, white teeth. It’s undeniably appealing to look at. In fact, having white teeth increases your level of attractiveness by 10%. A study performed by researchers from the universities of Leeds and Central Lancashire has proven exactly that. In addition to increasing your appeal, another study recently conducted on Brits has shown that a bright white smile also makes you more employable – 10% more than those who are unfortunate enough not to have it. Some people even equate white teeth with money and privilege. According to Oral B’s study, white teeth also make one look younger by five years. Lastly, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, whitening your teeth is one of the cheapest ways to enhance a person’s smile.
With all these positive benefits of having white teeth, it is no wonder then that teeth whitening, also known as dental bleaching, has become the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in America. In fact, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, more than $1.4 billion were spent on over-the-counter whiteners in 2005. And it hasn’t gotten any less popular today. This procedure continues to be offered by dentists across the country. You can even get your teeth bleached at some salons. And if you want to do it yourself, the market is flooded with in-home whitening kits to suit every budget. Faced with so many options, it can be hard for the average Joe or Jane to make a choice – the right choice. Because there are side effects to using in-home whitening kits and even in-office whitening. In the Journal of the American Dental Association, a study showed that 50% of people who underwent dental bleaching experienced teeth sensitivity, ranging from slight to extreme, and some even experience burning gums. So, if you want to avoid any of these, you should definitely opt to go natural. But before we go into the what’s and how’s of whitening your teeth the organic way, it’s important to first understand why your teeth aren’t white.
What Makes Your Teeth Yellow?
Though we see it on billboards, magazines, commercials, TV series, and movies, teeth aren’t actually meant to be pure white. The natural color of teeth is ranges from grayish to yellowish white. There are several factors that influence the color of your teeth. Genetics, of course, plays a part. There are several diseases that can also a change in color because they affect the enamel of your teeth such as dentinogenesis. Medications taken during the development of teeth can also affect color such as the intake of tetracycline antibiotics before the age of 8. And like all things in your body, age is also a factor. As you grow older, the enamel of your teeth becomes thinner, exposing the yellowish-tinged dentin.
Food color is also absorbed by our teeth thus certain things we eat and drink can stain them. Some of the things that can darken your smile include coffee, red wine, tea, soft drinks, soy sauce, tomato sauce, and tobacco. If you can’t avoid consuming teeth-staining foods and drinks, you should rinse your mouth or brush your teeth as soon as possible after you consume them.
Who would have thought that sweet, red strawberries could help whiten your teeth? Strawberries contain vitamin C which helps in removing the buildup of plaque on your teeth. It also contains malic acid, an enzyme that is also found in some whitening toothpastes. Malic acid removes the surface stains found on your teeth. Using strawberries to whiten your teeth is definitely more economical (and a great deal safer) than using an in-home whitening kit or going to the dentist.
Aside from helping brighten your smile at a low cost, strawberries also have a lot of health benefits. They boost your immune system, help fight cancer and bad cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and even help you maintain your weight.
How to Use
To use strawberries as a whitening agent, you can simply mash up the strawberry or cut it in half before rubbing it all over your teeth. Let the juice stay on your teeth for about five minutes before you rinse it completely off with water.
You can also combine one strawberry with some baking soda to create a sort of paste. First, mash up one strawberry with a fork. Then, mix it with half a teaspoon of baking soda until they blend. Dip your toothbrush into the strawberry-baking soda mixture then brush your teeth with it. Let the mixture stay on your teeth for five minutes. Afterwards, brush your teeth with regular toothpaste before rinsing your mouth completely with water. You can use dental floss if there are seeds stuck between your teeth. It is recommended that you limit using this natural tooth-cleanser to once a week. Using it too often can cause the malic acid in the strawberry to damage your enamel.
Crunchy Vegetables and Fruits (i.e. Apples, Celeries, Carrots)
We all know how healthy vegetables and fruits are but who would have thought that they could also help deal with the discoloration of teeth? Crunchy vegetables and fruits, to be specific, are good whitening agents because they are naturally abrasive. This means that they can polish your teeth without damaging your enamel – something that teeth whitening products can do. In addition, these foods help increase the production of saliva which helps keep teeth strong by fighting bacteria. Saliva also contains proteins and minerals that help prevent gum disease. Moreover, the more saliva you have, the fewer stains your teeth will get. This is because saliva also contains compounds and enzymes that enable it to have detergent properties. Other vegetables like broccoli and lettuce help prevent stains from forming on your teeth because they have mineral compounds that create a film over your teeth.
In addition to whitening your teeth, these foods are high in vitamin C which also helps kill the germs in your mouth as well as prevents gingivitis and gum disease.
How to Use
To use these vegetables and fruits as whitening agents, just make sure you eat them raw. Cooking them or softening them in any way will lessen their natural abrasiveness. Also, you’ll benefit more by eating them in their whole form such as biting into a whole apple rather than cutting the fruit or vegetable into pieces and eating it.
Cheese, Milk, & Yogurt
As teeth are bones, it’s only logical that eating foods containing calcium, phosphate, and vitamin D are essential to keeping them healthy. Calcium and phosphate are the building blocks of your tooth’s enamel. Thus, they are both necessary to the remineralization of your teeth – rebuilding those parts of your teeth that have been affected by plaque. Calcium specifically not only helps strengthen your teeth but also prevents bone loss.
These three foods also contain a milk protein called casein which helps in strengthening your enamel. Making your enamel stronger is important because, as the outer layer of your teeth, it protects the inner layer called dentin. The dentin is yellowish in color and exposing it will affect the color of your smile.
In addition, dairy products contain lactic acid which helps in keeping teeth healthy and reduces the risk of gum disease. Cheese, in particular, promotes the production of saliva which, in turn, helps stop bacteria from staining your teeth or damaging them. The fat in cheese also helps in stopping bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Moreover, you can also use hard cheeses such as cheddar to scrub your teeth and remove food particles. This “scrubbing” occurs whenever you eat hard cheese because, like crunchy vegetables and fruits, it is naturally abrasive.