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An attractive smile with pearly white teeth can be a treat to eyes. But like most perfect things, it often seems like a distant dream almost impossible to achieve. In fact, people spend thousands of rupees every year on teeth whitening procedures just to dazzle in that perfect white smile. There is a whole set of oral hygiene products that are sold for fading that unsightly yellow discolouration of your teeth. You may have already heard of various remedies and thought of giving them a try too. But how do you know what works? And is there anything that actually does work?

Read on to find out!

  1. Yellow teeth causes
  2. Home remedies for teeth whitening
  3. How to whiten teeth with baking soda

Teeth naturally start to attain a slightly yellowish shade as a person ages. Even your milk teeth or deciduous teeth are comparatively more whitish in appearance than the permanent set of dentition. There are two types of discolouration of teeth, external or internal stains. The internal discolouration is usually physiological cannot be removed without a proper dental procedure. However, certain lifestyle factors and drugs lead to external stains. These include:

  • Eating too much coloured and spicy foods containing turmeric
  • Tobacco chewing and smoking
  • Irregular brushing
  • Not taking care of oral hygiene

(Read more: 10 reasons to stop chewing betel nuts)

These stains can easily be prevented by changing your lifestyle habits and by using some simple home remedies.

Dental procedures are the quickest way to a pearly white smile but they also put a huge hole in your pocket. On the other hand, home remedies are cost-effective and less invasive. Though they may take a longer time to show noticeable results, home remedies involve some of the same chemical compounds that are used by professionals. The only difference lies in the mode of application. In home remedies, these compounds are used as external applications, whereas a dentist uses invasive or operative techniques and instruments to apply the same ingredients internally. Let us explore what all these remedies are and how they work to remove all those external stains.

  1. Baking soda for teeth whitening
  2. Hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening
  3. Papaya for teeth whitening
  4. Pineapple for teeth whitening
  5. Oil pulling for teeth whitening
  6. Turmeric and rock salt for teeth whitening
  7. Banana peel for teeth whitening
  8. Activated charcoal for teeth whitening
  9. Lemon for teeth whitening
  10. Strawberry, apple and kiwi for teeth whitening

Baking soda for teeth whitening

The first and most commonly used ingredient for teeth whitening at home is baking soda. Baking soda is chemically known as sodium bicarbonate. It has an abrasive nature that helps in removing yellowness from teeth mechanically. This means that baking soda will help you in getting whiter teeth by removing a thin layer of teeth superficially.

So, if your teeth have gotten yellow or discoloured over time by consuming food products like tea, coffee and turmeric, brushing your teeth with baking soda can do the trick.

There are several ways of incorporating baking soda for brushing. The most simple and effortless way is to buy toothpaste with baking soda as an abrasive agent. Don't worry, every toothpaste has an abrasive agent anyway.

The American Dental Association approves sodium bicarbonate as an abrasive agent in teeth whitening dentifrices and validates its lower abrasiveness as compared to other commonly used abrasive agents like calcium carbonate, anhydrous dicalcium phosphate and calcium pyrophosphate. Baking soda is alkaline in nature. Apart from teeth whitening, baking soda also acts as a buffering agent and decreases the bacterial load inside the oral cavity. It is also said to have a better stain removal potential than any other abrasive agent.

Other ways of using baking soda as a teeth whitening agent are mentioned below:’

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda powder
  • Soft bristle toothbrush
  • Coconut oil/olive oil/sesame oil/sunflower oil

Ist method:

  • Take 4 tablespoons of baking soda, add a few drops of water into it to make a paste
  • Take a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth with baking soda paste
  • Keep brushing for at least 2 minutes in order to get optimum results
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards with cold water

2nd method:

  • If you don't have a toothpaste with baking soda, add it in your regular toothpaste to make your own baking soda toothpaste at home
  • Mix it well, then brush with it for 2 minutes

3rd method:

  • Another way to use baking soda is by mixing it with coconut oil instead of water
  • Just add 4 tablespoons of baking soda in a generous amount of coconut oil, enough to make a paste
  • You can brush your teeth using this mixture for two minutes

4th method:

  • You can also use coconut oil and baking soda for oil pulling
  • For this, take a ¼ cup of coconut oil with 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • Mix both the ingredients well
  • Fill your mouth with this mixture and swish
  • The whole procedure of oil pulling should last at least 5 minutes
  • Rinse your mouth with cold water afterwards

Tips:

  • Being an abrasive agent, baking soda can lead to tooth sensitivity in the long term.
  • Don't use baking soda daily or too frequently to whiten your teeth. It will do more harm rather than good; once a week usage is more than enough.

Hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that is commercially used as a bleaching agent in teeth whitening procedures done by professionals. Apart from external stains it also helps remove internal stains. Various studies indicate the use and efficiency of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda as a toothpaste ingredient to get whiter teeth.

You can use this miracle teeth whitening agent in home settings too but only in the form of external application. Here is how:

What you’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1% hydrogen peroxide

Procedure:

  • Take the baking soda in a bowl, add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into it
  • Mix it well to form a paste
  • By using a soft bristle toothbrush, brush your teeth with this mixture for at least 2 minutes (normal brushing duration)
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards

Tip: Hydrogen peroxide is a potent bleaching agent, therefore it's use should be limited. Use it once a month or two months to prevent any side effects.

Papaya for teeth whitening

Have you ever thought this fruit can give you whiter teeth over time? Well, now you would. Papaya is rich in a bioactive compound known as papain, which has been proven to be effective in removing dental plaque, one of the major causes of teeth staining.

This action of papaya is attributed to its proteolytic properties, which help break down extrinsic stains on teeth.

If you want to gain benefits of papain, eat lots of papayas. However, for localised application, follow these steps:

What you'll need?

  • Few cubes of papaya

Procedure:

  • Take a thin slice of papaya, rub your teeth with it
  • Do this frequently as much as you can, this won't cause any side effect as such

Pineapple for teeth whitening

This sweet and sour fruit not just stimulates your taste buds but also holds a lot of benefits in every bite. In some cultures, pineapple is used as folk medicine. The main credit for all its therapeutic benefits goes to a bioactive compound called bromelain.

Apart from the use of bromelain for respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and many more, surprisingly bromelain also has the ability to whiten your teeth.

Just like papain, bromelain also possesses proteolytic and fibrinolytic properties and the working mechanism behind bromelain is also the same as that of papain.

Bromelain helps in breaking down the structural protein of dental plaque or pellicle thereby promoting the removal of external stains attached to it.

A comparative study done between papain and bromelain containing toothpaste with a regular toothpaste reveals a significant increase in mean lightness value of teeth with constant use of papain and bromelain as compared to regular toothpaste.

For best result bromelain, increase the intake of pineapple. However, for topical use, try following this method:

What you’ll need:

  • Few slices of pineapple

Procedure:

  • Rub your teeth with thin slices of pineapple
  • Make sure you cover all surfaces of teeth, especially the ones that are most visible like your incisors, canines and premolars
  • You can do this twice a week
  • Avoid direct application of pineapple daily as it is slightly acidic in nature
  • The acidic content of pineapple can damage the external layer of enamel on frequent use

Oil pulling for teeth whitening

Oil pulling is a traditional method of cleansing the oral cavity that is widely used in India and South Asia. Regular oil pulling is said to be beneficial in whitening teeth, improving dental health and the overall general health.

Well, if something can provide you with this many benefits, it's definitely worth a try. For oil pulling, you can use any edible oil like coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil and sunflower oil. Take your pick and follow the steps mentioned below  for best results:

What you’ll need:

  •  ¼ cup of an oil of your choice

Procedure:

  • Take a mouthful of oil and move it around your mouth in a swishing or pulling motion
  • Make sure it touches every corner of teeth and mouth
  • The whole practice should last for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Spit the oil and rinse your mouth with water

Turmeric and rock salt for teeth whitening

Regular and long term consumption of turmeric is known to promote teeth staining. But you might be amazed to know that this spice can also help fade the yellow discolouration of teeth when used in the right way.

Turmeric contains an ingredient known as curcumin, which has been suggested to aid in plaque removal and improvement in the symptoms of gum diseases. It also helps suppress the growth of plaque-causing microbes in the oral cavity. While all of these effects may not make your teeth whiter, they help remove the existing stains and prevent further tooth staining.

Rock salt is a mild abrasive in nature. It helps in the removal of external stains when rubbed in the form of a paste. Also, it helps increase the pH of the oral cavity, thereby decreasing the bacterial load and plaque density.

To make the best out of it, you can add both of these ingredients for their cumulative effects:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard oil

Procedure:

  • Mix all three ingredients in a bowl
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush to brush all the surfaces of teeth stressing more on the visible surfaces
  • Keep brushing for at least 2 minutes
  • Wash your mouth thoroughly thereafter

Banana peel for teeth whitening

Have you ever thought that a banana peel can be of any use? Well, it is! Even the peel of banana contains various essential micronutrients like potassium, magnesium and manganese. These metals get absorbed through the enamel surface and make them appear whiter.

Though there isn’t much research available on the details of its action and effectiveness, banana peel does not have any side effects. So, you can certainly try it as a remedy for teeth whitening.

What you’ll need:

  • A banana peel
  • Knife

Procedure:

  • Cut your banana peel into small slices
  • Rub your teeth with thin slices of banana peels
  • Make sure you cover all surfaces of teeth especially the most visible parts
  • You can do this twice a week to see any noticeable changes

Activated charcoal for teeth whitening

Activated charcoal is one of the most popular teeth whitening agents and is widely used as a primary ingredient in various toothpaste and teeth whitening kits. Though there is no proof regarding its efficiency, there are various theories regarding its mode of action. One such theory suggests that activated charcoal is a negatively charged compound as opposed to the positively charged dental plaque. So, when you brush your teeth with activated charcoal, it binds with plaque, making itself absorbed through enamel and results in teeth whitening.

Activated charcoal is also an abrasive agent and hence leads to removal of external stains on teeth. You can easily buy activated charcoal from any supermarket and use it in the following way:

What you’ll need:

  • Activate charcoal powder
  • Water

Procedure:

  • Mix some activated charcoal powder in water to form a paste
  • Brush with this paste for about 2 minutes
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with cold water

Alternatively, buy toothpaste with activated charcoal as an ingredient.

Tip: Regular use of activated charcoal may abrade your enamel, leading to increased sensitivity. So, it is important to be vigilant and not use this particular remedy more than once in a few weeks.

Lemon for teeth whitening

Some people consider lemon juice as a remedy for teeth whitening. However, there are both pros and cons of lemon as a teeth whitening agent. Lemon juice and peel contain citric acid in abundance. Citric acid acts as a bleaching agent thus helping in getting rid of the yellowness of teeth. However, direct application of citric acid may lead to the gradual erosion of enamel, making your teeth sensitive to both heat and cold. Still, if you want to give it a try.

What you'll need?

  • Half cut lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Procedure:

  • Put a tablespoon of salt into a bowl
  • Squeeze half lemon into it
  • Mix both ingredients well
  • Brush your teeth with this mixture focussing on the visible surfaces of teeth for 2 minutes

Tip: Don't use this regularly, it might lead to loss of enamel structure overtime as lemon is acidic in nature.

Strawberry, apple and kiwi for teeth whitening

Strawberry and apple contain maleic acid, which is considered to be a natural enamel whitening agent. The exact mechanism behind the teeth whitening effects of maleic acid is not established yet.

Another goodness loaded fruit is a kiwi. Kiwi is enriched with a compound known as actinidin. Actinidin is supposed to remove surface stains on enamel thereby making it appear whiter than usual.

If you want to enjoy the whitening effects of these fruits, start their consumption more frequently. While eating, keep aside one or two slices and rub them on the surfaces of teeth for best results.

What you'll need?

  • Few slices of strawberry/apple/kiwi

Procedure:

  • Take a piece of strawberry/apple/kiwi, rub it on the surfaces of teeth visible while laughing or smiling
  • Keep doing this whenever you eat any of these fruits or develop a habit of rubbing with any of three fruit slices daily to see changes
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References

  1. Vijayasree Vennila, Vasapalli Madhu et. al. Tetracycline-Induced Discoloration of Deciduous Teeth: Case Series. J Int Oral Health. 2014 Jun; 6(3): 115–119. PMID: 25083046
  2. YimingLiDDS, MSD, PhD. Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice: A review of literature. Available online 19 October 2017.
  3. American Dental Association [internet]; Oil Pulling
  4. Kleber CJ, Putt MS, Nelson BJ. In vitro tooth whitening by a sodium bicarbonate/peroxide dentifrice., J Clin Dent. 1998;9(1):16-21. PMID: 9835828
  5. PK Chakravarthy and S Acharya. Efficacy of Extrinsic Stain Removal by Novel Dentifrice Containing Papain and Bromelain Extracts. J Young Pharm. 2012 Oct-Dec; 4(4): 245–249. PMID: 23493413
  6. Rajendra Pavan, Sapna Jain, Shraddha, and Ajay Kumar. Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review. Biotechnol Res Int. Published online 2012 Dec 10. PMID: 23304525
  7. Monika Nagpal and Shaveta Sood. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun. PMID: 23633828
  8. Chacko Kalliath, Archana Mukunda, Meera Pynadath, Vidya Venugopal, and Jithin Prethweeraj.Comparison between the effect of commercially available chemical teeth whitening paste and teeth whitening paste containing ingredients of herbal origin on human enamel. Ayu. 2018 Apr-Jun. PMID: 30783367