It seems like every time you watch television or read a magazine, there's an ad for a new teeth-whitening product or procedure. Some methods cause sensitivity or pain -- normally those with bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide -- and others are expensive. Whether you are interested in a natural whitening alternative to avoid side effects or simply to save some money, several methods are available that use everyday household items and food.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat fruit and vegetables. Crunchy ones like apples, pears, carrots and celery remove stains from your teeth through their abrasive texture, leaving brighter enamel. Apples also contain a natural astringent that lifts discoloration from your teeth. Rub orange peels on your teeth for a mild whitening effect. Do not substitute lemon peels for this, as the acid they contain can strip away the enamel of your teeth.
Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol prevents plaque buildup and encourages saliva production which naturally cleans your whole mouth, including between and around teeth. Chewing on a little cheese after eating has been shown to prevent tooth decay. The calcium and phosphorus in cheese, yogurt and milk stimulate the remineralization of your tooth enamel.
Floss and Brush
Floss at least once a day in addition to brushing two or more times daily. Stains on the sides of teeth add to a darker overall appearance and flossing removes the items that cause this discoloration. Flossing also helps keep your gums healthy which complements the sparkle of your smile.
According to the American Dental Association, some studies suggest that baking soda is too abrasive for teeth whitening. However, it does have stain-lifting properties and by combining it with other ingredients, you may protect the enamel while whitening it. Create your own paste by mixing baking soda with water or simply sprinkle a small amount onto the toothpaste on your brush. Adding a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda paste increases the whitening effect, but the American Dental Association recommends you consult your dentist before using a bleaching product like this. Once your teeth have shown an improvement, use a baking soda additive only once or twice a week. Different theories exist on the benefits of adding lemon juice or strawberries to baking soda for teeth whitening. While some believe it causes more harm to the enamel than good, other reports suggest that using it once or twice a week is safe. Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural astringent, and the seeds act as a buffer. Crush a ripe strawberry and mix it with a teaspoon of baking soda. Apply the mixture to your teeth and then brush as normal after about five minutes. Always rinse well after using any of these ingredients.